STEEPLEJACKS have been working almost 200ft above Sheffield city centre on masonry repairs to prevent parts of the Town Hall crumbling to the streets below.
The condition of the 64m tower at the Grade I listed building has deteriorated in recent years, due to its exposed position. Restoration is now under way as part of a £2.2m scheme to repair the building, which dates to 1897.
Coun Bryan Lodge, Sheffield Council’s cabinet member for finance, said: “Restoration of stonework on the tower is costing £70,000 alone.
“The tower is one of the city’s tallest structures and exposed to the elements and, over the years, the condition of stonework has deteriorated. Pieces have been falling off while other sections need to be repaired.”
Every inch of the gritstone tower is being examined for decay and some sections of masonry are being chipped out and replaced.
But the cost of the project has been much-maligned.
Coun Lodge said: “It really angers me when the opposition Liberal Democrats criticise us for spending money on Town Hall ‘makeovers’. This is necessary work which is needed to preserve a Grade I listed building, and protect the health and safety of people in the streets below.
“We don’t want pieces of the Town Hall dropping off and hitting people on the head.”
Money is also being spent replacing bird netting to protect the exterior, and on modernising rooms inside to reduce spending on rented buildings elsewhere.
Lib Dems say the cost of the project should be reduced so there is more money for services. But Coun Lodge said: “This is not about posh offices - some rooms in the Town Hall have broken windows, and others are run-down inside.”