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Trade disrupted at Swanley Square Shopping Centre after scaffolding collapse during Storm Gerritt

Market traders were moved on in the nick of time before scaffolding came crashing down on a town square during stormy weather.

Several shops at Swanley Square Shopping Centre remain closed today (December 28) while urgent repair works are carried out.

Contractors are on-site today
Contractors are on-site today

It comes after a large amount of scaffolding fell away near the closed Wilko amid the high winds caused by Storm Gerrit yesterday.

Manager of the twice-weekly market, Les Stevens said he had called off the Wednesday stalls at around 1pm – just hours before the temporary structure plummeted.

He told KentOnline: “I cancelled it for the safety of the traders and members of the public, not because of the scaffolding.

“We did not know it was going to come down hours later.

“It does not matter what time it is, it is my duty to get it closed if it is not safe.”

The scaffolding came down yesterday afternoon. Picture: Emma Wenden
The scaffolding came down yesterday afternoon. Picture: Emma Wenden

Firefighters evacuated the shopping plaza yesterday afternoon after the scaffolding collapsed at around 4.30pm.

Four engines, a height vehicle and a technical rescue unit attended the call. No injuries have been reported.

Crews made it safe before passing the duty of care over to the landowners.

The mall, which is privately-owned by Evolve Estates, was sealed off to customers and staff earlier this afternoon while contractors on-site assessed the damage.

It’s understood the cordon has since been removed.

Subway, Iceland, Specsavers and a nail shop were among the shops affected while Costa Coffee, which sits just outside the cordon, remained open earlier.

There is some damage to the units at the centre
There is some damage to the units at the centre

Swanley Town Council chief executive Ryan Hayman, confirmed once the authority was made aware of the incident they contacted the management company.

He said: “We continue to work with them in the investigation. All the relevant bodies have been contacted and the scaffolding is being secured.”

Speaking yesterday, Emma Wenden, store manager of the nearby Iceland, said: "We heard a massive bang so ran to see what it was. We saw it in that state at around 4.30pm.”

Swanley Square’s weekly Sunday market is expected to open this weekend if the weather and building works allow.

Evolve Estates has been contacted for further information.

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