Four great demolition disasters

Plus: Duelling EU figures, expensive police operations and a comparison of English and Saudi prisoners

17 October 2015

8:00 AM

17 October 2015

8:00 AM

Bang goes the plan

The demolition of six tower blocks in Glasgow failed when the top half of two of the blocks settled upright on rubble. Some more demolitions which went wrong:
— A girl of 12 was killed and several people injured in 1997 when the Royal Canberra Hospital toppled rather than collapsed in on itself. Debris, which was supposed to stay within a 50-metre zone, spilled over more than 200 metres.
— A 300ft power station chimney in Springfield, Ohio, toppled onto power lines, cutting off electricity to 4,000 people.
— A 80ft flour mill at Cankiri, Turkey, toppled onto its roof and came to rest against a block of flats. No one was hurt.


Launching Britain Stronger in Europe, a campaign to stay in the EU, Lord Rose of Monewden claimed that the average Briton is £450 a year better off inside the EU than outside it. With an average household size of 2.3, this works out at £1,035 a year per household. How does this measure up against other wild guesses?
Up to £3,500 better off: Business for a New Europe, 2011
£3,000 better off: CBI, 2013
£933 worse off: Business for Britain, 2015
£6,000 worse off: Prof Tim Congdon, 2013

The bill

The Metropolitan Police is to stop guarding the Ecuadorian embassy, where Julian Assange has been seeking sanctuary since 2012, after spending £12 million on a round-the-clock operation. Some other pricey police operations:

Phone-hacking investigations


Madeleine McCann investigation (cost to British police only) £11m
Guarding of Cuadrilla exploratory fracking site in Sussex, in 2014 £4m
Operation Yewtree investigation (to March this year) £3.5m
‘Operation Stack’, policing queued traffic on the M20 for three weeks owing to a strike in Calais £700,000

Prison exchange

The cabinet argued over a contract to provide prison services for Saudi Arabia. How does the Saudi prison population measure up to ours?

England and Wales
Prison population 85,892
Incarceration rate per 100,000 148
% detainees on remand 14%
% female 4.5%
% juvenile 0.8%
% foreign nationals 12.8%


Saudi Arabia
Prison population 47,000
Incarceration rate per 100,000 161
% detainees on remand 59%
% female 5.7%
% juvenile 0.9%
% foreign nationals 72%


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  • Dominic Stockford

    “Lord Rose of Monewden claimed that the average Briton is £450 a year better off ”

    You need to pay more attention in lessons, he said each of us will be £450 MILLION better off a year.
    No wonder M&S got rid…