Fire-ravaged Newsome Mills is “a death trap” says the managing director of the company brought in to carry out urgent demolition work in the aftermath of the inferno that destroyed it.
Demetri Elia, of Kayedem Demolition Ltd, says he has serious concerns about its safety more than eight months on from the blaze that left the buildings a crumbling ruin.
But he walked away from the job as he feared his concerns were not being taken seriously and he didn’t want his company to remain involved.
The Grade II-listed mill was destroyed by a fire in November 2016 and its future has been left unclear after an impassioned campaign was launched by local residents to save the iconic clock tower.
Looters and young people misbehaving have exposed the lack of security at one of Huddersfield’s most significant landmarks.
Local residents and councillors have called for security to be stepped up.
Mr Elia said: “It’s a death trap. Three consulting engineers have said in a report that it’s unsafe. I have made our concerns extremely clear that it’s a death trap. Someone is going to get seriously hurt.
“We were involved from day one when the fire happened but have washed our hands of it because there’s nothing we can do. We were there for about two months.
“I called the Health and Safety Executive to see if they could apply any leverage and put pressure on. We need to make it safe.
“I was contacted four or five weeks ago by someone saying there were four kids aged about 10-15-years-old sat on the Clock Tower dangling their feet off the edge, a 30-40ft drop.”
Helen Kingston, who has been a key figure in fighting to save Newsome Clock Tower following the fire, has spoken out in a bid to force the developer Panorama Living Ltd to take action before the school summer holidays when more children will be playing outside.
She said: “Our concerns are that the developers have made no serious attempt to make the site secure. There have been several instances of young people in the rubble and climbing the clock tower.
“It’s only a matter of time before it’s an ambulance attending instead of just the police.
“There have also been people caught in broad daylight looting stones from the rubble, some have been confronted by members of the local community and reported to police. The fencing was put back up but has since come down again.”
Photographs taken by residents show a man looting stone from the site. Another shows police escorting people, believed to be youths, out of the fire-hit mill.
Newsome Green Party councillor Andrew Cooper said: “Police have been called out on a number of occasions chasing kids who have gone onto the site.
“The fencing has been knocked down and I have asked the owners to replace it. It’s dangerous.”
The Examiner has asked Panorama Living to comment but has receive no response.