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Millennium wheel hoist hampered by socket

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The designer of the millennium wheel, which failed to lift off last week, has insisted that nothing broke, nothing snapped and that the project will roll out for the 2000 celebrations.

ba London Eye, the 135m-high 15,000-tonne monster, remains stretched across the River Thames after Friday's highly public hoist failed because of problems with sockets anchoring temporary cables to the hub. David Marks Julia Barfield Architects hopes a second attempt on the £20 million design will be made within two weeks.

The temporary cables were meant to stabilise the rim of the hub during lifting and would have been removed once it was upright. But the cables detached from the sockets and all 32 have to be altered, said David Marks.

'It is an engineering glitch,' he said. 'The temporary sockets were part of the lifting operation and were nothing to do with the wheel structure. There is no issue with the materials, strength or stresses. This is a minor set back in the context of the overall project: we have been working on it for six-and-a-half years.'

He said the operation had been hampered but had not been scuppered by broadcast satellite dishes scrambling laser signals from the hoisting machinery. This was reported by several national papers as the main cause of problems.

'But we fully anticipate it to be fully open for the millennium,' he said.

Care and repair squad to watch out for heritage

Building experts are launching a network of conservation hit squads to stop the rot in historic buildings at risk. The network of care and repair experts, called Monument Watch uk will inspect buildings once a year for their owners. They will pinpoint problems and do on-the-spot minor repairs such as rod gutters and hoppers, and replacements. Their vans will be packed with traditional materials to ensure jobs are done quickly and with little fuss, said save Britain's Heritage.

It has joined the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings, Bath Preservation Trust and the University of West England in the initiative.

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