Hundreds of buildings, including schools and community facilities that are owned by Reading council contain potentially hazardous asbestos as MPs have called for the material to be removed.

A Freedom of Information (FOI) request submitted to Reading Borough Council has uncovered the amount of buildings with asbestos containing materials, referred to as ACMs, in them.

The council has admitted that there are hundreds of buildings where asbestos is present, a cause for concern as exposure to asbestos  can cause lung and chest cancer and other illnesses.

They include 32 schools, with a majority of them being primary and nursery schools.

Additionally, there are 79 other buildings owned by the council which contain asbestos.

There are also a total of 47 commercial buildings with ACMs.

They include the Meadway Sports Centre in St Bartholomew’s Road, Palmer Park Library, Reading Central Library and the buildings at Christchurch Meadows in Caversham.

Seven of the commercial buildings are listed as empty.

However, it is understood one of them, Caversham Court, is due to be brought back into use as the home for the Rabble Theatre company.

The FOI stated that here are approximately 181 residential communal areas which contain some form of ACMs.

There are approximately 9,500 council homes in Reading, so the council was not able to provide exact number of these homes which contain asbestos.

However, it admitted that, because the majority of the homes were built before 2000, it is likely many of them contain some form of ACMs.

The figures have been revealed as MPs on the Commons Work and Pensions Committee have called on Government ministers to remove all remaining asbestos from public and commercial buildings by a 40 year deadline.

Members of the committee said that, although the extreme exposures” of the late 20th century may be a thing of the past, asbestos remained the biggest cause of work-related deaths in the UK, with more than 5,000 deaths recorded in 2019.

All buildings that the council has listed as having asbestos material have Asbestos Management Plans in place.

These management plans are enacted to prevent asbestos exposure, and lay out how materials can be safely removed and replaced with non hazardous material where practical.

The FOI to Reading Borough Council was answered in January this year, case reference FOI-385565574 .

You can view it in full by searching for it by doing a web form on the council’s FOI page: