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Young woman killed by falling sandstone

15 October 2000

Edinburgh City Council is considering allocating more money to inspecting buildings following the death of a young Australian woman, killed when a piece of sandstone fell from a city centre building. Five other people were injured.

The masonry fell 12m, crashing through a glass canopy over an outside seating area of Ryan\'s Bar in Hope Street where the woman was waitressing.

A man aged 24 suffered serious injuries and a man and a woman in their 70s were slightly injured. They were taken to Edinburgh Royal Infirmary. Two women, aged 36 and 49, were treated on the scene for cuts.

The stone fell from the building, which was extensively repaired about 10 years ago, at 4.30pm on 29 June. The accident is being investigated by the Procurator Fiscal.

A month later there was a second incident when a piece of sandstone fell from the fifth floor of Edinburgh\'s famous department store, Jenners, which had also been extensively renovated and cleaned a few years ago.

This time a passer-by was struck on the hand by the falling masonry.

A city council spokesman told NSS the council does have a programme of regular inspection of buildings but because of cuts by successive governments the programme had fallen further and further behind schedule.

He said more money was being made available to local authorities by the new Scottish Executive and that some of it might be channelled into building inspections. However, he could not promise. He said it would have to be decided as part of an overall budget.

He said while not wanting to make light of the death and injuries at Ryan\'s Bar, this was not an isolated case. "We are serving dangerous buildings notices on people quite frequently," he said.

It does, however, seem to have encouraged property owners, and maintenance companies to think again about the inspection of their properties. Barry Hunt from consultants STATS of St Albans, Hertfordshire, says he has received a sudden increase in enquiries from Scotland since the accidents occurred.

He says the problem of falling masonry is not restricted to Scotland and is not restricted to Scotland and is something he comes across occasionally.

And he believes the problem can only get worse. In earlier times when buildings got old they were either repaired or pulled down, whereas now more of them are being listed and every attempt is made to preserve original material.



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