'It still makes me nervous': Bosses' frustration at ongoing cladding issue
- Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021
Two years after a piece of cladding fell from a city centre apartment block some nearby businesses are still "nervous" about the public's safety.
Rachel Waring, one of the owners of Warings Lifestore in Westlegate, was forced to temporarily close her business after a piece of cladding fell from nearby Westlegate Tower.
The hospitality boss – who has been busy serving customers sitting outside under Covid restrictions – said: "It still makes me very nervous. It's not remotely about how it looks, it's about whether or not the people of Norwich are safe.
"I was there when the cladding came down and it could have killed someone. Every time we have high winds it makes me nervous about people sitting out there on the benches and those walking up and down the street.
"I haven't heard anything about if or when it will be fixed, I just hope it's done to the proper standards of health and safety. This isn't the sort of thing we want to drag on for years."
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But a spokeswoman for Watsons Property, managers of the building, reassured the public that the structure was safe.
She said: “The scaffolding is currently being used as protective measure following the wind damage in 2019. It has been advised that the structure is safe. The scaffold was erected as a preventive caution to encapsulate the remainder of the cladding and remains until the remedial works take place. These works are due over the coming months.”
The maintenance of the scaffolding has had a continual impact on trade added managers of Evans Cycles, which is part of the Westlegate Tower complex.
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"Every month or so they come and do maintenance which means there's scaffolding in front of the shop, so people think we're closed," said assistant manager Danny Quinton.
"To be honest we can't even tell how much it impacts trade anymore because it's gone on for so long. We still have people coming in for appointments so it's not like we're empty the days it's there. We haven't heard anything about when it's going to be sorted which would be the most ideal outcome," he added.
Watsons added that the issue would be resolved in the "forthcoming months".
- Westlegate Tower recap
On March 14 the apartment building suffers at the hands of 60mph winds and a piece of cladding falls from the building.
Three businesses, Warings Lifestore, Paula Gundry and Evans Cycles were all required to close out on a week's business from March 15 to March 21.
During that time other businesses in the street reported a drop in footfall of 50pc due to road closure signs at the top and bottom of the street.
However, despite the cordon being put in place for the public's safety, on March 17 pedestrians were filmed climbing through the blockade.
In January of 2020 Norwich South MP Clive Lewis called for the 'eyesore' to be fixed.
In April this year, managers of the building issued an update that the work would be completed "over the forthcoming months".