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Structural Defect causes danger at Life Centre building

A structural defect on the Life Centre building in Wigan was close to causing a serious injury to the public.

An eyewitness confirmed that only the actions of quick and perceptive staff averted a tragedy when when a structural defect caused a glass panel fell from the top of the landmark Life Centre building and shatter 20 feet below.

It landed near a seating area where people had been standing around only minutes earlier.

It is now being debated whether or not the Believe Square services hub should remain open while safety checks are going on. Michael Winstanley, council opposition leader and former mayor of Wigan, said that he would contact Donna Hall, chief executive at town hall, to express concerns about the potential danger to the public.

Council heads have cordoned off the entrance and requested that visitors use an alternate entry into the building. The council is also being urged to act, as this is the second time since 2014 that this type of structural incident has occurred.

The Health and Safety Executive confirmed recently that Wigan Council had not sent any reports and no investigation was in progress.

The visitor who witnessed the Life Centre incident said that only the quick-thinking staff prevented the falling glass from killing someone. He said that the panel cracked just before falling, giving employees the opportunity to clear the drop zone of people.

 

Structural Defects Insurance

Although there were no injuries, the structural defect has raised safety concerns because a similar incident occurred two years ago.

It is uncertain how long the public will have to use the alternate entrance. The council has issued reassurances that the building is being reviewed for safety purposes and Cllr Winstanley said he would press safety concerns with town hall leaders.

The assistant director for leisure, property and resources confirmed that the Life Centre has reopened and services are still carrying on as usual. The main entrance remained closed after the incident and, according to the assistant director, building management has spoken with the contractor investigating the cause so that additional preventative measures may be taken.

The last time a glass panel fell, it was in the summer months of 2014. This has caused speculation that hot weather could have forced the glass out of its frame.

However, a complete refit of the glass facade if the structural defect was found to be serious would be an expensive and disruptive project, given the fact that the award-winning building is the site of many council services.

The eyewitness told journalists that the Life Centre’s seating areas are beautifully designed and enjoyable places to sit, but a large and heavy falling glass panel is a dangerous threat that needs to be taken seriously and properly addressed, even if the resulting cost is high.

“The rest of the building is safe: it wouldn’t stop me going back in to use the library,” he said, adding that if the council does not prevent building visitors from going into that particular area, they would be making a serious mistake.

The eyewitness said that under no circumstances should the incident be “swept under the carpet.”

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