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Council boss trapped in newly opened Spinnaker Tower

A council boss was trapped for more than an hour in a lift 30m up the Spinnaker Tower in Portsmouth on the day it was officially opened.

As a result, engineers were called in to abseil down and rescue council project manager David Greenhalgh from the £35 million scheme by HGP Architects.

The scheme has been beset by problems since it was first conceived in 1999 and has already been subject to at least three local authority enquiries.

This latest setback has again raised issues about the project - in particular about whether the lift is safe for passengers.

However, contractor Mowlem has hit back, claiming the latest mishap was an issue of 'reliability, not safety'.

The firm said that unusual wind conditions had caused a 'secondary control rope' known as the overspeed governor to become detached from its pulley.

An Mowlem spokesperson said: 'The lift control system stopped the car exactly as it is designed to and the safety of the passengers was maintained at all times.'

The contractor has now approached lift manufacturer Maspero to urgently take steps to ensure that the problem does not recur.

The spokesperson continued: 'Although the tower has been handed over [to the local authority], Mowlem reaffirms its commitment to fully investigate and rectify the current problem.'

by Rob Sharp

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