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Norfolk youth centre reopens again following asbestos alert

PUBLISHED: 11:57 24 January 2013 | UPDATED: 11:57 24 January 2013

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Part of a Norfolk youth and community centre has been reopened again to user groups after being temporarily closed when workmen discovered asbestos on the premises.

The bottom floor of the Diss Youth and Community Centre in Shelfanger Road was being used again on Wednesday after trustees of the centre closed the building on Tuesday when workmen discovered the potentially deadly asbestos, which has been linked to lung diseases, in panels surrounding windows on the top floor.

An independent expert was called in to conduct air tests on the top floor, which revealed only “minimal” levels of asbestos in the air, insufficient to pose a danger to people, so the trustees decided to reopen the centre.

The fire retardant material, which has been banned in the UK since 1985 because it has been linked to lung diseases including mesothelioma, was discovered on the top floor at Diss Youth and Community Centre, in Shelfanger Road on Tuesday by workmen who were replacing single framed metal windows with double glazing to make the building more energy efficient.

Town clerk Deborah Sarson told a town council meeting on Wednesday the top floor was being kept closed, adding: “The air test has found very low levels of asbestos, but it is safe to keep that area locked. Some user groups are choosing to use alternative sites temporarily, but we are keeping users informed and providing them with alternative sites where we can.”

Keith Kiddie, one of the centre’s trustees, said the windows were being replaced as part of refurbishments to the centre, built in the 1970s, which will include new flooring, blinds and a suspended ceiling to make it more energy efficient.

However, he said the top floor was not used by any of the groups based at the centre, including the South Norfolk Youth Symphonic Band and there was no risk anyone could have been contaminated by the asbestos, which is only harmful if it is disturbed.

He added the workmen moved swiftly to stop the improvements and close the building after discovering the white material, which was subsequently confirmed as asbestos by an independent expert. Windows on the bottom floor had already been replaced and no asbestos had been found.

He did not know how much it would cost to remove the asbestos and said work had been suspended until the material had been removed.

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