Dumped asbestos at old bingo hall is ‘public health hazard’

Dumped asbestos from the roof of a former bingo hall is putting lives at risk, a builder claims.

Pitsea construction manager Dal Herbert was on his way to the shops when he spotted the hazardous substance at the side of the local former Gala Bingo.

He told the Basildon Echo that developers appear to have pulled down the ceiling of the building in a bid to save it from falling – unaware that their actions were exposing residents to the dangerous asbestos. It has since emerged Basildon Council ordered the removal of the suspended ceiling.

Mr Herbert claims he has contacted the authority three times since his worrying discovery three-and-a-half-weeks ago. He said:

“Someone had pulled down the ceiling of the building, obviously trying to make it safer, but not knowing asbestos was there.

I alerted environmental health at Basildon Council three times, but I was told it wasn’t their problem as it’s a private property.”

He is especially concerned for the health of passengers using a bus stop in front of the building.

Mr Herbert, who has worked with asbestos for 16 years, warned it spreads easily in the hot weather. He added:

“There’s hundreds of people using that bus stop and everyone is oblivious. It’s very dangerous. Asbestos causes lung cancer and the symptoms don’t show for 20 to 30 years. You breathe in the fibres and they hook into your lungs.”

Gala Bingo closed in 2009. The building was later put on the market but it is not known who the current owner is.

Hiren Dave, 36, owner of Shiv Food and Wine, on Pitsea Broadway, said:

“Dal has warned me about it. He told me to make sure I tell people – especially old people because they always use the bus stop.

If nothing is done it’ll be like the Grenfell Tower fire and too late to do anything.”

Basildon Council confirmed it had called for the ceiling to be removed. A spokesman said:

“Basildon Council’s building control team asked the property owner to remove a suspended ceiling to make it safe because it was in a dangerous state.

It is the responsibility of the property owner to ensure the building is safe and any debris is disposed of responsibly.”

The spokesman was unable to reveal the identity of the current owner.

The Health and Safety Executive said it has not received reports about the asbestos discovery.