NEWBURY Town Council may have to spend more than £22,500 to protect the town hall against lightning strikes, to make sure it complies with UK safety standards.
The council has been advised by town hall insurers that it must upgrade its existing lightning protection, after the building was hit by a lightning strike in September 2016.
At a recent meeting, members of the policy and resources committee approved an increase to the council’s repair and maintenance budget to install a new lightning conductor system for the historic building.
In September 2016, the town hall was hit by an ‘extreme’ bolt of lightning, which missed the standard conductor on the clock tower and hit the lead roof protection to the north of the building.
The strike created a three-inch hole through the lead weather protection and produced an electricity surge, causing a power outage. According to the council, no staff were in danger.
Following a subsequent inspection of the town hall’s lightning protection, Newbury Town Council was told that it must be upgraded to better dissipate any future lightning strikes around the building.
At the committee meeting, services manager Granville Taylor told members the cost of such an improvement would be £22,500 plus VAT. However, he did say that was the “worst-case scenario” and that every effort would be made to reduce the spend.
Members were also told the work was compulsory.
The committee voted unanimously in favour of using funds from the council’s reserves.
Speaking after the meeting, Mr Taylor said the council had no option but to meet safety standards. He said: “Our current lightning conductor didn’t comply with the current British Standards.
“A single rod running down the side of the building is not adequate protection from a severe lightning strike.
“The new lightning protection has a network of wires that they fit to the building, dissipating the energy more effectively. This offers a much better level of protection for the whole building.
“Fitting this system fully complies with our insurers’ requirements and British Standards. It offers full protection against a worst-case scenario.
“It’s like the flood protection recommended by the Environment Agency ensuring that the areas of high risk are fully covered during a once-in-a- hundred-years event.”