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Upper levels of Elgin multi-storey car park closed off as cracks appear on concrete columns sparking public safety fears

The upper levels have been closed off due to safety concerns.
Picture by JASON HEDGES
The upper levels have been closed off due to safety concerns. Picture by JASON HEDGES

Inspections are being carried out at St Giles Centre car park after cracks began to show in the building’s supporting concrete columns.

Moray Council have closed the upper levels of the Elgin multi-storey after structural defects were discovered in the building’s framework.

Specialist contractors have been drafted in to inspect the pillars, which hold levels three to six in place, after cracks were discovered.

Over fears for public safety, council officials have now sealed off the upper levels from the public.

Barriers have been erected along the slipways, restricting access to affected floors.

The closure is expected to remain in place until further notice.

Meanwhile, levels one and two of the St Giles Centre car park will remain open.

Elgin councillor Frank Brown says it’s unclear at this stage the “extent” of the problem or how much it will cost to rectify.

‘The responses and the plans to deal with something like this just don’t materialise overnight’

He said: “We have known there has been a problem for some time and we closed off the upper levels, level six and possibly part of level five some time ago because of this.

“We now know from a recent survey that the problem is greater than we thought it was.

The upper levels of the St Giles Centre car park have been closed off. Picture by Jason Hedges.

“The question of course is what is it going to cost to put it right? The simple answer to that is until they undertake a lot more work and have it surveyed and identify exactly what the problems are, we won’t know.

“I understand the issues are actually within the concrete columns themselves.”

He added: “The responses and the plans to deal with something like this just don’t materialise overnight, regrettably.

“This building has been there a long time. It proceeds anybody that’s actually on the council.

“I don’t know exactly when it was built, it’s got to have been in the 1970s so it’s been stood there for certainly 40 years and it’s only recently that these problems have been identified.

“Until there is a proper survey and assessment by structural engineers, we really won’t know the extent of the problems or what the remedial solutions might be.”

St Giles Centre Car Park. Picture by Jason Hedges

Reduction in parking capacity

The closure has drastically reduced parking capacity at the Elgin shopping centre, with just 93 spaces now available to customers.

At maximum capacity, the car park can accommodate more than 280 vehicles across six floors.

There is also no step-free access for wheelchair users from levels one and two to the St Giles Centre.

Mr Brown says despite the reduction, he is confident there will still be ample space across the town for shoppers and residents to secure parking.

“The existing usage levels of the car park can actually be provided for by the levels that are remaining open,” the Elgin councillor said.

“I was surprised at that but apparently that is the case as it would seem that the majority of people are wanting to park on our surface car parks.

“There is also the other car park, the multi-storey up on South Street which is not far away that has plenty of capacity so in terms of people living in Elgin and coming to Elgin, whilst it might not be as convenient to get to St Giles Centre, it shouldn’t have a huge impact.”

‘We have a duty to ensure the safety of the public’

Moray Council’s transportation manager, Nicola Moss, said: “We have a duty to ensure the safety of the public, and this closure is in response to those obligations.

“We acted swiftly to reduce the risk and don’t foresee the upper levels of the car park re-opening until a future plan for the structure is known.

“We’ll review the blue badge spaces and advise the public of any further changes to access to these spaces. We apologise to drivers for any inconvenience caused.”

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