Wigan businesses return after dangerous wall chaos

More than Words were one of the businesses affected by the unsafe wall
More than Words were one of the businesses affected by the unsafe wall

Businesses left “devastated” after being left without a premises for 11 weeks because of a dangerous wall are now back in and operational.

In June, six businesses were unexpectedly evacuated from their sites as a result of significant damage to a wall at Eckersley Mill.

A structural assessment deemed that the wall was vulnerable to imminent collapse and posed an immediate risk to the public.

The companies, including community interest company More than Words, which provides advocacy services for adults with disabilities and The Wendy House Nursery, were left scrambling for temporary centres to operate from.

Wendy Porter, manager of the children’s nursery, among others, pressed the town hall for quick action after their businesses began to suffer financially.

Although they were supported by council officers who helped them find temporary premises and Douglas ward councillor, Patricia Draper, the concerned owners spoke out about how trade had been affected due to the change of premises.

Recently the council served an urgent works notice to the owners of the building, ordering them to make the remaining structure safe.

Much to the delight of the ailing businesses, the notice was complied with and the owner’s contractors have now completed the work, building internal and external scaffolding and hoardings to secure part of the wall and the adjacent weaving sheds.

This work has allowed Pottery Terrace to reopen and businesses to re-enter their premises. However, vehicle access on pottery terrace remains limited.

Marie Bintley, assistant director for growth and housing at Wigan Council, said: “We appreciate the significant impact this incident has had on businesses in the area and we thank them for their co-operation as we strive to rectify the damage in partnership with the building owner.

“The resilience they have shown during this difficult time is a true testament to their professionalism.

“Public safety and the continued sustainability of affected businesses were two of our main priorities, so it was important that the necessary arrangements were made so that business owners could get back to normality.”

Since receiving the news, affected businesses have spoken about their “relief” at being back inside their premises.

Karen Dunn, from More than Words CIC said: “It has been an extremely challenging time and we are so relieved to be finally back in our premises. We couldn’t have done it without the support of our students and their families, our staff, landlord, the council and Councillor Draper.

"We’d also like to thank Fur Clemt for letting us use their room in the afternoons when we needed extra space and Central Park for providing temporary accommodation.”

Wendy Porter added: “The disruption caused by the mill, has had a devastating impact on our nursery business.

“We are very grateful to Wigan Council for their support during this difficult time.

“We would like thank Marsh Green Primary, for allowing us to use their school and facilities and our landlord TCC for allowing us to use alternative rooms within their building; to enable us to continuing supporting families in the community.”