A large historic stone pavement slab in the Moorlands has been saved by community leaders. Lila Connect is currently in Leek installing fibre broadband for the town. They have more recently been in the town centre digging up pavements to put the connections underground.
A large historic stone pavement slab in the Moorlands has been saved by community leaders.
Lila Connect is currently in Leek installing fibre broadband for the town. They have more recently been in the town centre digging up pavements to put the connections underground.
Most feedback about Lila Connect’s work in Leek has been of praise for how efficiently they have been working – they also had extra staff in place on Friday helping shoppers to safely gain access to shops and businesses in the town centre as contractors worked around the shop entrances.
However, community leaders have had to step in to save a large historic slab in Leek’s Market Place which had been set to be cut up to be able to get the fibre connections underneath.
Both councillors Lyn Swindlehurst and Bill Cawley, the latter who is also Leek’s Town Mayor, were contacted by business owners in the area over concerns about the large stone slab on Wednesday (June 8) evening.
The two councillors then worked together to ensure that the historic pavement slab was saved from the stone cutter.
Cllr Swindlehurst told the Leek & Moorlands Echo: “There has been a great deal of praise across social media about the excellent quality of workmanship in the town centre by the company installing broadband.
“Mindful of the complex conservation areas in Leek, when it was bought to my attention late evening on June 8, that it was the intention to cut through the large York stone at the market entrance, it was clear that action was needed.
“There were no available contact numbers in the late evening and work was to start at 7am.
“In liaison with cllr Bill Cawley we agreed to place a note on the slab to delay action until cllr Cawley arrived on site at 7am the next day.
“Discussion eventually led to the stone being saved. The response to our actions has received a great deal of thanks, praise and positive messages.”
Cllr Cawley said: “I was contacted on the Wednesday night and following a telephone call I had with Lyn Swindlehurst we agreed an action plan to save the slab.
“Lyn left a note on the pavement and I cycled over at 7am (the next morning) to speak to one of the workers who was ignorant of the fuss that was being caused and the concern expressed.
“I managed to call a halt to the intention of cutting the stone by chatting over the phone with the supervisor who agreed to stop after I pointed out that it was a conservation area.”
The Leek & Moorlands Echo contacted Lila Connect about the matter. In response, a spokesman said: “Following a conversation with the Town Mayor on the day of our excavation, it was agreed that we would not disturb the large York stone slab at the entrance.
“Instead, a design change was agreed and undertaken, incorporating additional civils to the build.”
Meanwhile, another Leek community leader has also raised concern over York stone slabs, which surround the foot of the Nicholson War Memorial, which have been lifted and, according to a local architect, been replaced incorrectly by Lila Connect contractors.
Councillor Brian Johnson, who has raised this concern, told the Leek & Moorlands Echo: “Power 2000, working for Lila, had been told by an officer of county highways that there were no restrictions the length of Ball Haye Street, which they took to include the curtilage of the Nicholson War Memorial.
“When I came across the work they had already lifted the slabs, dug the trench, laid their pipping and were relaying the slabs on a dry cement and sand base.
“I called Power 2000’s local manager to tell him they had just ripped up 100 year old York stone which was part of a listed building.
“Following that I arranged for (a local architect) to check what had been done and report back.
“He reported that the slabs had been laid on the wrong compound and would have to be relaid using lime mortar to a specific specification that he would provide in behalf of Leek Town Council.”
The spokesman for Lila Connect said of the concern about their work around the Nicholson War Memorial: “We are currently in conversation with the Staffordshire Highways Department to ensure that we have accurate specifications and material requirements for the laying of pavement slabs.
“Once we have this, the work will be rectified. We apologise for any inconvenience caused.”
The Leek & Moorlands Echo has contacted Staffordshire County Council, who has authorised the work by Lila Connect to be carried out in Leek, for a response to both of the concerns raised in the town. At the time of print, we had not yet received a response.
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