Cinema falls on busy road during demolition

Grant Prior 12 years ago
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A Liverpool demolition contractor has been fined after poor work saw a disused cinema collapse onto a dual carriageway in Thornton Cleveleys, Lancashire.

Gaskells Demolition Services Ltd of Bootle was prosecuted after part of the Orion building fell onto the A587 during rush hour on Thursday 17 June 2010.

The art-deco building opened as a cinema on 24 November 1934, with more than 1,000 seats. It closed in 1961 and was used as a theatre before being converted into the Orion bingo hall in 1965. It was eventually shut for good in October 2009.

Gaskells was hired to demolish the building on Crescent West ahead of a supermarket being built on the site.

During the work, part of the building and scaffolding collapsed, blocking the two northbound lanes of the dual carriageway and the entire width of Runneymede Avenue for several hours.

No one was injured in the collapse but one pedestrian suffered a near-miss and a car was also damaged.

The HSE investigation found that, although the company had taken some precautions, it had failed to set up safe arrangements for the demolition such as an exclusion zone around the building.

It also failed to apply to the council for temporary road closures while the work took place.

The scaffolding put up along the front of the building was to allow workers to access it, rather than to support it.

Gaskells Demolition Services Ltd admitted safety breaches and was fined £5,000 and ordered to pay £3,000 in prosecution costs.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Anthony Polec said: “The risk of buildings unexpectedly collapsing is well known in the demolition industry but Gaskells failed to take adequate action to prevent lives being put in danger.

“The company should have put suitable measures in place to protect the public, such as applying to close the roads while the demolition work took place and setting up an exclusion zone to keep the public away.

“It could also have erected facade retention scaffolding that could support the building, rather than relying on employees to keep a lookout for passers-by.

“This was entirely inappropriate given the demolition work was taking place next to a busy dual carriageway on a weekday morning. It’s only luck that no one was seriously injured.”

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