Firm fined after cinema collapse

The former Orion Bingo building, Cleveleys
The former Orion Bingo building, Cleveleys
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A HEALTH and safety inspector said it was “only luck” no one was seriously injured when a disused cinema collapsed on to a dual carriageway in Cleveleys.

HSE Inspector Anthony Polec made his comments following the successful prosecution of Gaskells Demolition Services for failings while it demolished the former Orion building on Fleetwood Road.

The structure collapsed on June 17 last year.

Gaskells was hired to demolish the building 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, 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 Blackpool 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 breaching Regulation 29(1) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007.

The company, of Oriel Road in Bootle, was fined £5,000 and ordered to pay £3,000 in prosecution costs on 11 May 2011.

Speaking after the hearing, Mr 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.”

The Art Deco building opened as a cinema in 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.

A spokesman for Demolition Services Ltd declined to comment after the hearing.