Campaigners demand £150 million refurbishment cash be spent on more important buildings
PUBLIC money earmarked for removing asbestos from Buckingham Palace should be diverted to de-toxifying schools, campaigners urged yesterday.
The royal household is mooting the idea of Elizabeth Windsor leaving Buckingham Palace for a number of months so “essential” refurbishment work costing the taxpayer a whopping £150 million can take place — a move dubbed a “Rexit.”
This will include the removal of asbestos, exposure to which can cause the development of the cancer mesothelioma decades after the fact.
But while masked workmen will be sent into the palace to remove the deadly substance, the government is still dragging its feet on removing it from schools.
A palace spokeswoman told the Star that the royal household spent £300,000 on asbestos removal in the last financial year and that there was “further work to be done on asbestos.”
Republic, a campaign group which calls for the abolition of the monarchy, said taxpayers’ cash should not be spent on repairs.
Chief executive Graham Smith said: “They should be prioritising schools and other public buildings over Buckingham Palace.
“Any work done at all on the place should be funded by tickets sold at the gates. “Public money should be spent on [removing asbestos from] more important buildings.”
It is estimated 90 per cent of schools still contain asbestos, and a report from teachers’ union the NUT in April said it killed 300 former pupils and 15 teachers a year.
NUT deputy general secretary Kevin Courtney said: “Asbestos has been a scourge in workplaces for many years and our first concern is for generations of the Queen’s staff who have potentially been exposed to asbestos.
“For them, this restoration work will be welcome. What is good enough for Buckingham Palace, however, should be good enough for all.
“Britain has the highest mesothelioma rate in the world yet the government has no long-term strategy for the removal of asbestos in schools.”
Campaigner Graham Dring, who co-ordinates the Greater Manchester Asbestos Victims Support Group, said Britain was “still paying the price for decades of political inaction” over asbestos removal.
“We have victims coming into our office every day looking for assistance,” he added.