DRIVING winds caused by Storm Eunice lifted workmen’s cradles to batter the side of Woking’s new Hilton building, damaging windows and denting panels.

Video of a metal cradle swinging untethered circulated on social media and residents’ forums over the weekend, raising widespread concerns.

“The safety of residents and construction workers is of utmost importance and the sight of an untethered workmen’s cradle was alarming,” acknowledged leader of Woking Borough Council, Ayesha Azad.

“We raised this incident as an urgent matter with Sir Robert McAlpine (SRM) and they confirmed that ahead of Storm Eunice, significant preparations across the construction site were put in place. This included checking and securing all materials and equipment. On-site works were suspended in specific areas and teams were on standby to react where necessary.

“Despite this, the severity of the storm dislodged two workmen’s cradles that had been grounded and secured on the southern roof terrace beside the hotel development.”

Friday’s red weather warning had seen the section of Victoria Way close to the Hilton building temporarily shut, due to a “wind action plan” agreed between SRM and the Health and Safety Executive which requires the highway to be closed during excessive wind speeds while work to the hotel’s exterior continues.

The road had only reopened the previous week, having been closed since 20 October while temporary fixings were installed after exterior panels fell from the Hilton.

On this occasion, Victoria Way was only closed until Saturday afternoon, once the winds subsided. No panels were dislodged as a result of the storm.

“All other preparations proved effective, with only minor damage as a result,” said Cllr Azad.

Liberal Democrat group leader Ann-Marie Barker said she had written to Cllr Azad and WBC’s chief executive, Julie Fisher, asking if the incident will impact on the opening of the new development.

“There are serious questions to be answered as to why this happened,” said Cllr Barker. “The public need to be reassured that there will be no further cost to the public purse from these incidents.”

It is thought the Hilton hotel will not now open with the rest of the Victoria Square development, and instead will open later in the year once all aspects of the building are fully settled.

For more on the local effects of the storms, see this week’s News & Mail – out today