Tenants demand action after slab near miss

The side of the sixth floor of Derby House, Scholes, where a large sheet of render fell off
The side of the sixth floor of Derby House, Scholes, where a large sheet of render fell off

TENANTS cheated death after a slab of concrete crashed to the ground from a Wigan high rise block of flats.

Shocked residents are demanding an inquiry into the near-disaster, the heavy piece of cladding having plunged 60ft to the ground just feet from the entrance to the building in Scholes village.

They say that it is “a wonder nobody was killed.”

It is believed that the high winds over the weekend dislodged the structure at Derby House which, it is claimed, was at least 6ft by 5ft before smashing into large pieces on the ground.

The panels, a high tech breathable cool in summer/warm in winter covering, have only been in place for two years.

They were a key part of the £1m per block of flats refurbishment, carried out by contractors on behalf of Wigan and Leigh Housing which manages the council’s housing stock.

But the structures have already been mired in controversy after an unsightly green mould appeared on some walls, currently the focus of a top level argument between the council and contractors over culpability.

Now tenants and leaseholders representative Syd Hall of neighbouring Crompton House is demanding that housing chiefs carry out a full structural survey of all the flat blocks over which the panels were applied.

He said that since the incident on Sunday morning, residents are increasingly afraid to use the exit and entry points for fear of being hit by falling masonry.

Mr Hall weighed one of the surviving lumps of render left shattered on the ground and found it was around 15lb.

He has calculated that the sheet of cladding could have weighed as much as 50lb before it hit the ground ... making it a “potentially deadly” missile if it had struck a tenant.

Mr Hall said: “This is an extremely dangerous health hazard indeed and we are all concerned about using the entrance to get in and out in case something like this comes crashing down on our heads.

“There is no doubt at all that somebody could have been killed or very seriously injured indeed if this panel had come off during a busy time when people are coming and going, rather than in the early dawn when nobody was about.

“I am asking for a full investigation of all six blocks as soon as possible.

“We as tenants and leaseholders deserve honest answers this time.

“When we have asked about the green mould it has been like wrestling spaghetti, trying to get to the truth.

“But this is much more serious.”

Mr Hall wants, as an immediate emergency priority, protective scaffolding “shelters” to be erected over the front and rear entrances of the six blocks of high rise flats to protect the tenants and leaseholders from a repeat incident.

A spokesman for Wigan and Leigh Housing confirmed that it was investigating the incident and its cause.