Campaigners cry foul in Walker Welfare demolition battle

Campaigners cry foul in Walker Welfare demolition battle

CAMPAIGNERS have accused council officials of a cover-up after claiming a Thornhill community centre is not unsafe.

Members of the Save Walker Welfare group gained access to the Edge Lane building, which is being demolished, on Monday night.

The group concluded after an hour-long investigation the building was not in imminent danger of collapse.

Kirklees recently ruled that the community centre has to come down for reasons of public safety. They also said it was beyond economic repair.

Campaigners insist they found no evidence to support that or other claims that the building contains asbestos.

Andy Waring, for the group, said apart from a door support beam and a few roof timbers the building had not suffered from rot.

They also believe the only way the bell tower could collapse would be if walls supporting a steel beam were removed.

Mr Waring claimed what damage there is was evidence of neglect, which he blamed Kirklees for.

And despite council claims of asbestos Mr Waring said clouds of dust spread over Thornhill on Monday while workmen were on site.

On Monday’s demolition moves he added: “It took four builders with hammers and pickaxes more than eight hours to remove part of the building wall.

“It removed the gable end support to the whole front roof of the building, and yet the Walker Welfare Centre still stood proud.

“One would expect any interference in such an unstable building and that would be it - she would fall to the ground.”

Mr Waring described campaigners as “beyond angry” about the situation and accused Kirklees of a cover-up.

He said: “Internal Kirklees surveys reported the roof in danger of falling in, the walls caving in, and the floor so badly rotted it could fall through at any time.

“It’s now quite clear the only danger this building presented to Kirklees was the honest nightmare of their blatant neglect.

“It would cost money and possibly jobs as heads should roll for whoever is found to be blamed.

“All along it’s been one big push to get it knocked down so that the evidence of neglect would be gone.

“Well bad luck Kirklees because we’ve now proof that they totally lied from start to finish.”

The Save Walker Welfare group were due to meet at a local school last night (Thursday) to discuss their next move.

Members of the campaign group got into the building on Monday after the demolition company allegedly left it insecure.

Mr Waring said: “Access was wide open for anyone to enter the site and then walk straight into the unlocked building.

“Kirklees have been hell bent in denying access to our group so we could see the problems with our own eyes.

“Now we’ve had access it’s very clear why they wouldn’t let us in. We’re now beyond angry and we want it known.”

A Kirklees spokeswoman denied the claims and said the contractor, Bradford firm Gill Demolition, had been reminded to keep the site secure.

She added: "The council and third parties commissioned a number of surveys, all of which came to the conclusion the building was internally unsafe and beyond economic repair.

“We have been in contact with the demolition contractors to remind them about their responsibilities at the site.”

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