A derelict pub in a prominent area of Great Yarmouth could be on the verge of collapse, a scaffold firm owner has claimed.

Since going up in flames on March 23, 2022, the Haven Bridge pub has been surrounded by scaffolding and access to Steam Mill Lane remains closed.

Two days after the blaze, KB Scaffolding assembled scaffolding around the pub after the closure of Bridge Road caused heavy traffic throughout the town.

Since then, the firm has yet to be paid for the service and the bill currently stands at £396,000.

Great Yarmouth Mercury: Scaffolding has surrounded the derelict pub since two days after it was on fire 22 months ago. Picture - KB ScaffoldingScaffolding has surrounded the derelict pub since two days after it was on fire 22 months ago. Picture - KB Scaffolding (Image: KB Scaffolding)Now, KB Scaffolding owner Michael Black said he feels he is forced to dismantle the structural supports, but has warned both Great Yarmouth Borough Council (GYBC) and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) that the building has already started leaning, and may collapse if unbraced.

"The building is actually falling over onto Steam Mill Lane," Mr Black said. "It has bent the scaffolding by five to ten degrees.

"It's the same at the front of the building. The front is pushing the scaffolding over which is getting embedded into the ground.
"It's pushing the rakers around two inches into the flint blocks.
"The public is facing serious risk or even death if this building falls over."

Great Yarmouth Mercury: Scaffolding on Steam Mill Lane has limited access to nearby businesses. Picture - KB ScaffoldingScaffolding on Steam Mill Lane has limited access to nearby businesses. Picture - KB Scaffolding (Image: KB Scaffolding)As the bill for the scaffolding continues to escalate, Mr Black said he felt he was in a "Catch-22" situation, as there is a great risk to the public and his crew if the building collapses. But Mr Black said he cannot afford to keep his equipment in use without getting paid for the services after almost two years.

Liability for the payment has been contested since mid-2022. Mr Black believes GYBC is liable as he says he was requested to install the scaffolding as an emergency measure by a council officer.

GYBC has refuted this claim and believes the pub's owner, Martin Bennington, is liable.

Great Yarmouth Mercury: Great Yarmouth Town Hall. Picture - Denise BradleyGreat Yarmouth Town Hall. Picture - Denise Bradley (Image: Denise Bradley)Mr Bennington has said his insurance company has refused to provide any financial compensation.

"I've just opened an email from the Ombudsman telling me that the insurers will not be paying a penny," Mr Bennington said.

"They are saying the broker is at fault because they have given the wrong information to the insurance company."

Mr Bennington said he continues to chase the matter, but fears it "may take another couple of years".

Great Yarmouth Mercury: Scaffolding surrounding the Haven Bridge pub. Picture - KB ScaffoldingScaffolding surrounding the Haven Bridge pub. Picture - KB Scaffolding (Image: KB Scaffolding)GYBC is currently making an assessment and looking at options for the property. The ongoing work will include a structural survey.
The HSE has confirmed it has not visited the site since March 2022, but a spokesperson said the agency continues to work with the council.
Mr Black described the situation as "like banging your head against a brick wall".

Great Yarmouth Mercury: Scaffolders on top of the Haven Bridge pub in March 2022. Picture - KB ScaffoldingScaffolders on top of the Haven Bridge pub in March 2022. Picture - KB Scaffolding (Image: KB Scaffolding)"It's getting out of hand," he added.

"What happens if the building does collapse? We're really concerned about health and safety with this.

"The only other option we've got is to send a letter to nearby people informing them we are taking the scaffolding down.

"But if at any point we deem the building unsafe we'll leave the scaffolding there and our duty of care to the public is to leave a cordon around the scaffold, which could then close Haven Bridge."

KB Scaffolding is currently in talks with a barrister to take further action.

The firm has yet to set a date for the dismantling of the scaffolding. But Norfolk County Council confirmed its current licence is in place until March 17.

Steam Mill Lane's current road closure is due to end on November 13, 2026. However, Norfolk County Council said this is not an estimate of how long the issue will take to resolve.