Freeze damages student halls

January 12, 1996

The record sub-zero temperatures which made Glasgow colder than Moscow have disrupted the start of term for hundreds of students and caused thousands of pounds worth of damage.

Round the clock work by maintenance staff has ensured that classes are running virtually normally in Glasgow's higher education institutions, but problems caused by burst pipes have forced many students to be rehoused.

Students from three Strathclyde halls of residence had to be evacuated, while one Glasgow residence is uninhabitable since the damage has extended to the fire alarm system. About 300 of the hall's 400 students have found themselves alternative accommodation, while the university is housing the remainder in other residences and budget hotel rooms. Students from Paisley University flats have been decanted to accommodation on its sports campus, but hope to move back this weekend.

Glasgow University says about 20 per cent of its buildings have suffered from the minus 20 oC celsius freeze, while Strathclyde University reports that only six of its 30 city centre buildings were unaffected. All the institutions stressed there had been no attempt at cost cutting by turning off heating during the vacation.

Peter Herbert, Strathclyde's director of estate management, said: "We managed to minimise damage to the buildings by running 24 hour shifts of maintenance staff from December 28 until January 3. When we realised we were going to have problems, we turned the water off in every building, repairing the damage before the water was turned on again."

Demand for repairs throughout the city was so intense that one Glasgow staff member had to be sent to Durham for the necessary equipment.

Technicians and insurance assessors are inspecting damage, which is unlikely to be fully repaired until next month. A computer suite used by design students at Glasgow School of Art has been flooded, while Strathclyde has suffered about Pounds 50,000 worth of damage to books in the library. One lecture theatre on its Jordanhill campus was under three feet of water.

And the crisis is not over. Burst pipes dramatically reduced water pressure, and a Glasgow spokes- man said now that the pressure was returning to normal, this was producing secondary leaks at points weakened during the freeze.

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