£3m to fix 'dangerous' Merton Council windows
A multi-million pound plan to replace all 680 windows at Merton Council’s civic centre has been revealed.
The council is set to shell out more than £3m of taxpayers’ money over three years to update its 1960s iron-framed windows after they were deemed unfit for purpose by its cabinet at a meeting on Monday.
The previous Conservative administration allocated £3m in preparation for the planned works, which will now be put out for competitive tender.
But the total cost of the three-year plan is expected to be £3.2m.
Councillor Stephen Alamfbritis said: “We want to do what’s best by our employees and the public.
“This is about health and safety of workers and of the general public.
“There was an incident in London recently where a piece of glass fell on a member of the public and we don’t want that to happen here.”
Coun Alambritis said there had been no incident which had prompted the decision, but that Merton Council was acting on the advice of a “strong” report by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) that the windows were no longer safe.
It was later clarified by a council spokeswoman the council had had no communication with the HSE and the safety assessment was conducted by GF Linsley, an independent glass and glazing consultant.
Employers are legally obligated to ensure the safety of their employees, with failure to comply a criminal offence.
Since April 2008, councils can be prosecuted under the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act, should a death occur due to their negligence.
Coun Alambritis ruled out moving to another premise and said that would be the more expensive option.
He said: “This is the town hall and it employs 3,000 staff and brings business to the town centre.
“Moving out or trying to find new premises is not the way to go in today’s austere times.
“We want the option that is value for money but provides health and safety.
“What the general public will see is scaffolding going up and the perception will be we are spending money on ourselves – we are not.”
Work on the windows is expected to start in the spring.