Thoughts of a Local Resident

Thoughts on Financing

It is clear that Shropshire Council wishes to demolish the Civic and sell off the land, which is logical from their point of view as they own it and are faced with a huge rebuild cost in addition to their own financial issues. It has been suggested that government funds might be available, but these would logically only be available if it had not been demolished and the site sold off. Shropshire Council had long promised to transfer ownership to the town council and must now be regretting the fact that this had not transpired. One question might be, would government funds be more generous if ownership rested with the town rather than with Shropshire Council, given their dire financial situation.

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Town Council

The town council exists to look after the parks, the Civic, and cemeteries. If the Civic is sold off, that will leave the council only looking after the parks and cemeteries, which begs the question, why not save a lot of money by placing the parks under the supervision of Shropshire Council and abolishing the town council altogether?

Town Council Accommodation

Assuming the council continues, the last time building work was carried out at the Civic, money was spent on the 1st floor of the Heritage Centre as temporary accommodation. Unfortunately, given the fact that this is the only building owned by the council, it has now been leased off to the Heritage Trust on a long lease. Would the Heritage Trust be prepared to allow the space to be used again by the council with a suitable rent being agreed in place of the current annual grant? This would at least mitigate some costs. Whatever happens, the town is going to be deprived of many benefits for a considerable time, if not forever. How important is this to the townspeople, and to what extent are they prepared to fund alternative solutions?

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RAAC Cement

The issues surrounding this cement have been well known for a considerable time. I am only aware of one instance of collapse, which occurred at a school, and I understand that this cement is in use today in many parts of the world without problems. If this is a well-known, long-standing problem in the UK, and considering the estimated life of RAAC panels is 30 years, it is somewhat surprising that it was not considered by structural engineers before spending the best part of a million pounds on a new frontage to a building constructed over 50 years ago.

Is this blind panic?

From what I understand, the issues identified so far relate to buildings constructed using this cement primarily in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s. These issues include damp penetration, insufficient overlap at beam ends, and the painting of the rebar resulting in loss of grip. If these concerns apply to the Civic building, then:

  • Can samples and photos etc. of the the RAAC be examined by, say, Loughborough university or some other impartial research organisation to determine the future life of the installation.
  • Can a list of failure indicators be drawn up and used in future surveys of the building to identify risk.
  • If areas of weakness can be identified now, is remedial action an option? Consider, a permanent internal frame attached to existing wall and across the ceilings, (Height not being a problem) supporting a mesh to avoid any catastrophic failures. I understand that, where there are two floors, it is not considered that the ground floor is at risk even if the second floor ceiling were to collapse, so it is possible that carrying out work area by area would gradually make the building fit for use again. Why not remove the ceiling of the rear passageway and walkways around the rear car park and leave it open for the time being ( this was required for fire escape purposes but I believe an alternative has been provided ). My reasoning is that the passageway could then be re-opened without Acros and fairly minor work at the rear of the library, as the span is not huge, could make it fit for use again.

Written By: John Arthur Ebbs

Created At: 12/02/2024

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