Taxpayers foot bill for council’s collapsed ceiling

REPAIRS to an ailing ceiling at the offices of East Cambridgeshire District Council look set to cost taxpayers in excess of �93,000.

The eye-watering sum will cover the cost of extensive repair and re-enforcement work following the partial collapse of the ceiling back in May.

Eight council staff were forced to camp out in the council chamber after the structural problems meant their offices had to be closed and a full council meeting had to be relocated to Witchford Village College.

A structural engineer, who was at The Grange, on Nutholt Lane, in connection with a new reception area, discovered problems with a section of the ceiling that was built as part of the 1989 extension to the building.

After an initial assessment, contractor Fosters Property Maintenance has hit the authority with a bill for �93,241.66, enough to employ another five planning enforcement officers at the council, based on its advertised salaries.

Because of health and safety concerns, immediate repairs were carried out to the ground floor reception area used by the public.

Building work is continuing strengthen the affected ceilings, and it is hoped that work will be completed by early summer.

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A spokesman for the authority said: “In May, a structural engineer uncovered the need for urgent work to be carried out in the annexe section of the Grange.

“The work required the removal of suspended ceilings and light fittings prior to major works being undertaken by a specialist contractor to strengthen the floor beams on the ground and first floors.

“While this work was completed a number of staff were moved to different sections of the Grange and the venue of some council meetings have changed to ensure business continues as normal as possible. The money to deal with this essential work came has come from the council’s reserves.”