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Pedestrians ignore safety barriers under city centre tower

PUBLISHED: 20:09 17 March 2019 | UPDATED: 20:09 17 March 2019

Pedestrians have breached the road closure of Westlegate after a chunk of cladding fell from the tower in high wind. Picture: Archant

Pedestrians have breached the road closure of Westlegate after a chunk of cladding fell from the tower in high wind. Picture: Archant

Archant

Pedestrians have been ignoring safety barriers erected to protect them from falling debris from a city centre tower block.

A piece of cladding has been torn from Westlegate Tower in high winds. Picture: Dominic GilbertA piece of cladding has been torn from Westlegate Tower in high winds. Picture: Dominic Gilbert

Cladding from part of Westlegate Tower came loose on Thursday afternoon and crashed into the skylight of a flat below.

Following the damage Norwich City Council agreed a temporary order to close part of Westlegate.

It will remain closed until the high-winds drop and the damage to the tower can be safely assessed.

But through the weekend the barriers have been breached repeatedly as pedestrians cut through Westlegate rather than divert down Timberhill, including on Sunday evening.

Westlegate Tower in Norwich has been damaged by strong winds. PICTURE: Jamie HoneywoodWestlegate Tower in Norwich has been damaged by strong winds. PICTURE: Jamie Honeywood

A spokesman for Watsons Property, which manages the building said: “Watsons has been liaising with all relevant local authority and emergency departments, as well as the building’s insurers and the freeholders.

“The temporary closure of Westlegate yesterday occurred after full consultation with the relevant bodies. That closure must remain in place in the interests of public safety until the wind has dropped and it is possible to assess the damage and determine the extent of any temporary safety work.

“Those inspections have been arranged and will take place as soon as possible but high winds are forecast again for tomorrow.

“As soon as all parties are satisfied it is safe to do so, the barriers will be removed. In the meantime, we thank everyone affected for their understanding and patience.”

Shops such as Evans Cycles, Paula Gundry and the Warings Lifestore were closed yesterday.

However, the lower section of Westlegate, where the likes of Tesco and Adnams are based, was open.

The chunk of cladding which blew off was around halfway up the 41m-high tower.

It followed a Met Office weather warning for strong winds across the East of England through Thursday morning, with gusts of up to 65mph hitting the region.

Westlegate Tower was refurbished in 2014 at a cost of £8m and houses around 20 apartments and two commercial units.

The people who live in the tower have not had to leave and are still able to get to their homes via Timberhill.

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