ASBESTOS has been found in schools, council buildings, leisure centres and even artefacts kept at Steam museum, according to official reports.

Surveys by Swindon Council show how widespread the hazardous material is in the town, with some buildings requiring extensive work to remove or contain it.

While most of the areas affected were concealed behind walls or in cavities, window frames and floor panels were also found to contain the material.

At the Arts Centre in Old Town , a survey in 2010 found asbestos in wall panels, in the ceiling and on fibreboard at the back of the auditorium. The material was also found in the plant room at the Ridgeway Leisure Centre in Wroughton , in a lift machinery room and a basement at the Link centre and in a boiler room at the Oasis.

Schools were also found to contain the substance.

Covingham Park Primary School was found in 2009 to contain it in more than 20 locations, including a cleaning cupboard, medical room and staff room. At Drove Primary School in Old Town it was present in 21 different places according to a report in 2010, including a window sill.

At Mountford Manor Primary School in Walcot cement panels and insulation boards containing the substance were found in the main hall in 2011. A window at Grange Junior School in Grange Drive was found the year before to contain chrysotile, the most common type of asbestos. At all of the schools inspectors either recommended the material be removed by specialist contractors or declared them safe unless affected by building work.

Surveys also flagged up its presence at the council’s Civic Offices, the Plus One Centre in Euclid Street and Croft Sports Centre. The David Murray John Building at the Brunel Centre was one of the worst affected buildings, with the material found in 74 different places.

Inspectors recommended it should be removed if affected by work taking place in the tower.

Asbestos was also presumed to be present in Second World War adult, baby and children’s gas masks at the Steam museum, a report in June this year found.

In each case, contractor SAS Ltd, which carried out the reports for the council, recommended the substance be removed or sealed.

The reports were provided after a Freedom of Information Act request by the Adver.

Pat Lewis, of the Swindon and South West Asbestos Support Group, said: “Asbestos was widely used for insulation and it can be found in window sills and other places. Teachers have died from exposure to it. “However it is not a danger to children or anyone else unless it is disturbed and schools have regular inspections.”

Swindon solicitor Brigitte Chandler, of law firm Charles Lucas & Marshall, said: “I have represented people who have died after working as carpenters at schools and other council buildings in Swindon where their duties included sawing and fitting materials containing asbestos to windows.

“It is important to make people aware that asbestos should never be touched or moved other than by people who are trained and qualified to deal with it.”

A spokesman for the council said: “All private and public owners of buildings are responsible for making sure asbestos is managed properly and safely...the council follows all the relevant legal and statutory guidelines for dealing with it.

“However, it is important to know exactly where it is, so that the material can be safely dealt with if alteration, maintenance or demolition work is needed. That’s why the reports have been done. “Where schools have converted to academies, they have full responsibility for managing asbestos in their buildings.” 

Buildings which were found to contain asbestos include:

  • Abbey Meads Community Primary School
  • Arts Centre
  • Broome Manor Golf Complex
  • Cheney Manor Unit ‘O’ – former Tyco premises Chilton Farm
  • Citizens Advice Bureau, Linden Green Civic Offices
  • Covingham Park Primary School
  • Croft Sports Centre
  • Crowdys Hill School
  • David Murray John Tower
  • Drove Primary School
  • Eldene Primary School
  • Elsie Millin Court
  • Emlyn Square, No. 12
  • Euclid Street Nursery
  • Ferndale Youth & Community Centre
  • Freshbrook Community Centre
  • Grange Infant Community School
  • Grange Junior School
  • Greenmeadow Primary School
  • Haydon Wick Primary School
  • Health Hydro
  • Highworth Pre School
  • King William Street CE Primary School
  • Kingsdown Crematorium
  • Liden Primary School
  • Link Centre
  • Locality Centre at Oaktree Nursery & Primary School
  • Mecca Bingo Hall
  • Moredon Library
  • Mountford Manor Primary School
  • Nyland Campus
  • Nythe Community Centre
  • Nythe Primary School
  • Oaktree Nursery & Primary School
  • Oasis Leisure Centre
  • Penhill Primary School
  • Queens Park Gardens
  • Regent Circus, No. 13
  • Ridgeway Leisure Centre
  • Robert Le Kyng Primary School
  • Rodbourne Cheney Primary School
  • Sanford House
  • South Marston CE Primary School
  • Steam Museum
  • Swindon Dance
  • The Commonweal School
  • The Platform
  • Ridgeway School & Sixth Form College
  • Town Gardens Café
  • Upper Shaw Farm
  • Westlea Primary School
  • Windmill Hill Primary School
  • Wroughton Infant School