Protective film to stop glass pane drop after scare

Exterior of Wigan Life Centre, where glass panels have broken and fell from the ceiling
Exterior of Wigan Life Centre, where glass panels have broken and fell from the ceiling

Long-term safety measures will be put in place at Wigan’s Life Centre following a major scare earlier this year when a glass pane plummeted 20ft.

An investigation, launched in the immediate aftermath of the July incident, has now concluded.

The panel fell mostly intact, I had a very clear view. It’s falling about 20ft, if someone had been underneath it would have killed them

An eye-witness

The Observer understands a protective film will be applied to the panels of the glass fronted building so that if the panes do shatter they will not fall.

Tragedy was averted in July when quick-thinking staff heard a pane shatter and made sure no-one was underneath it when he fell to the floor.

It was the second time a glass panel had fallen from the outer structure, the first being back in 2014, prompting concerns surges in temperature had caused the glass to warp and then shatter.

The town hall has not commented on whether temperature changes have been identified as the cause of the design defect.

The main entrance to the Life Centre, off Believe Square, was temporarily closed off to the public following the scare but was soon re-opened with scaffolding used to shore up the structure.

It prompted Conservative leader of the opposition Coun Mike Winstanley to call for a safety review.

Wigan Council built the Life Centre as part of a private-finance initiative (PFI) and are therefore tenants of the building.

Local authority bosses have been working alongside owners Equitex in the intervening months.

Penny McGinty, assistant director for property and leisure at Wigan Council, said: “As tenants of the building, we’re taking this issue extremely seriously.

“The safety of our employees and visitors has to be our number one priority and we’ve been pushing hard for the issue to be resolved quickly.

“Equitex, who have responsibility for the buildings, will complete the necessary works and we anticipate the work to be complete by the end of January.”

Following the July incident, an eye-witness told the Observer: “I must commend the staff who acted quickly and professionally, if it wasn’t for them there could have been a death, they have probably saved a life.

“The panel fell mostly intact, I had a very clear view. It’s falling about 20ft, if someone had been underneath it would have killed them.

“At first I thought it was vandals at ground-level and I was looking up at the panel when it fell.”