Posted: Sat 23rd Sep 2023

“Bridgend Market Closed After Discovery of RAAC in Roof”

news.wales / newyddion.cymru
This article is old - Published: Saturday, Sep 23rd, 2023

Residents and traders in Bridgend have been left in a state of shock this week, following the sudden closure of Bridgend Market, after the building material known as RAAC was discovered in the building’s roof.
The closure of the popular town centre building came after the discovery of Autoclaved Aerated Concrete, or RAAC, within the structure’s roof on Wednesday 20, with further in-depth assessments now needed before it can re-open.
In an updated statement, a council spokesperson said they had closed the building, which currently home to 17 stall holders with immediate effect in order to protect public safety, after an emergency meeting of cabinet members was called following the discovery by inspectors.
They said: “RAAC will have been within the structure since the market hall was built in 1972 as it was commonly used within the construction industry between the 1950s-mid 1990s.
“As UK Government has changed the rules on how RAAC should be assessed and checked, the council has been surveying all council-maintained buildings, including local schools, in line with these new procedures. So far, the indoor market is the only premises where a potential issue has been identified. It currently accommodates 17 stall holders.
“Inspectors from Bridgend council surveyed the market hall using the new criteria earlier this month and determined that it warranted a closer inspection from a Welsh Government-approved specialist. This second inspection was carried out during the morning of Wednesday 20 September.
“Based on the inspector’s verbal report at the scene, the Chief Executive and Leader immediately called an emergency meeting of senior managers and Cabinet members, and agreed that public safety had to take priority above all other considerations.
“As a result, swift action was taken. Staff went directly to the market to inform the traders while also ensuring that other relevant parties – such as local ward members – were made aware of the need for an urgent closure. Traders duly vacated their stalls, and the market was closed by 3pm that same day.”
The issues with RAAC, which has a lifespan of about 30 years, have been known since the 1990s, however, it wasn’t until 2020 that local authorities in Wales were made aware of the potential issues, according to the Welsh Government.
Other buildings across Wales have also been identified as containing RAAC in recent months, with  Cardiff Council recently announcing that St David’s Hall in the city centre would also close for at least four weeks, so checks on Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete in that building can be done.
 Following the closure of the Market in Bridgend, the authority added that as the Council only leases the indoor market and does not own the premises, they will now be liaising with the owners with regards to the next steps, and were keeping traders fully informed on developments.
They added: “To provide traders with further clarity and reassurance, the council invited them to attend a meeting that same afternoon at the Civic Offices. While the situation is still at an early stage, we have promised to keep them fully informed about any developments, and have offered a range of initial support which includes practical help in taking inventory and moving their current stock.
“In the meantime, further work and detailed inspections are being carried out at the indoor market to establish the extent of the RAAC issue, following which we will be in a better position to understand exactly what remedial measures may be required, and what the likely time-scale will be.
 “We recognise the difficulties and potential hardship that this temporary closure will cause to traders, and are making every effort to keep the inconvenience to an absolute minimum.”
Independent Councillor Steven Bletsoe of Bridgend said: “We as Local Members were informed as to the advice on the presence of RAAC and the need to temporarily close the market on Wednesday afternoon.
“On Thursday we made ourselves available to assist the traders in every practical way possible and to offer support in this worrying time. We will be working with the BCBC administration to ensure that all and any disruption to these traders is minimised whilst the structural requirements are made to the building which is the cornerstone of our Town Centre. We are a 500 year old Tudor Market Town and we must protect its future and that of those who trade there.” ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​



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