Council's £80,000 bill to secure derelict building

A total of £80,000 of taxpayers' money has been spent on securing the privately-owned derelict Pagefield building in just over a year, it can be revealed.

Friday, 14th April 2017, 8:46 am
Updated Tuesday, 9th May 2017, 7:01 pm
The old Pagefield building, behind Mesnes Park

Wigan Council does not own the former mill and college building - but it has taken action in a bid to keep people safe.

However, people continue to access the site next to Mesnes Park in Swinley and the problem has flared up during the Easter holidays and sunny weather.

Large groups of teenagers have been seen at the Pagefield site, running around inside the derelict grade II-listed building and even sitting on the roof.

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Teenagers at the Pagefield building on Sunday, April 2

Council bosses have now confirmed they have spent £80,000 there in the past 14 months - despite not owning the site.

Karl Battersby, director for economy and environment at Wigan Council said: “Wigan Council has spent £80,000 of taxpayers’ money in an attempt to keep this site safe despite it being the owner’s responsibility.

“Unfortunately, people are still finding ways to access the building - putting themselves in danger and putting our emergency services under unnecessary pressure.

“We will continue to work with the owners, GMP and the fire service to implement further security measures and secure the site to prevent further risk to the public.

Teenagers at the Pagefield building on Sunday, April 2

“We advise all people to stay away from the site and for parents to warn their children of the dangers of exploring the site before someone is seriously hurt.”

The Pagefield building has become derelict and dangerous, especially following the damage from numerous deliberate fires.

There are regular calls to the fire service and police, who put their own lives at risk when they enter the building to respond to incidents.

There were several incidents just last week, including a girl treated by paramedics after hurting her leg while on the roof and a woman threatening to jump off the building.

Last year the council demolished one of the fire-damaged buildings on the site - but its legal team is still trying to recoup the £70,000 bill from the owners.

It also arranged for the owners to erect new fencing, but the gates have been left unlocked several times.

Despite the efforts of the council, there are still many people getting into the Pagefield building.

Wigan Central councillor George Davies has long been calling for teenagers to stay away and fears someone will be seriously injured or even die there.

He said: “Please, please keep away. We are doing our best. It does not belong to the council but we are trying our best with the emergency services to get something sorted out for that building.”

He said the council will hold a meeting next week to discuss the future of the site.

Retired teacher Andrew Fitton saw people in the building as he walked through Mesnes Park on Wednesday evening. He said: “What I saw was the most upsetting thing I have seen in my life. I was going through Mesnes Park and there were children in the mill, on every storey.

“There was one right at the top pushing a door open, with nothing in front of him. If he had fallen, it would have been to his death.

“It was very dangerous what I saw.”

He urged the council to do something to stop people getting onto the site via Mesnes Park.