COUNCIL chiefs were warned of major structural problems at the People’s Palace and Winter Gardens years five before the buildings were forced to close, new documents reveal.

City councillors have voiced their “frustration” at the revelation, and said money must be found to save the Victorian glass house.

Both buildings, in Glasgow’s East End, were shut last December following safety concerns.

The Palace reopened last month after a £350,000 refurbishment, but the future of the Winter Gardens is unclear.

It can now be revealed Glasgow City Council was informed as early as 2014 that urgent work was needed to reseal windows to prevent them falling.

It has also emerged that repeated warnings for ‘immediate investment’ to secure the Winter Gardens long-term future were not acted upon due to a lack of cash.

Structural reports and visual surveys, which included recommendations on how to restore the Winter Gardens, were carried out on behalf of the council between 2013 and 2016.

A June 2014 report, obtained by the Evening Times, revealed glaziers found the sealant had “failed” on the windows.

It added the surface of the sealant had “crazed” and shrunk in places, revealing gaps between the glass and the frame, meaning they were no longer watertight.

The glaziers invited a specialist on site to explain why this had happened, considering the windows were resealed just 15 years before, following a fire in 1998.

The council said the gardens were closed in 2018 because the sealant had reached the end of its life cycle.

However, the specialist said the wrong sealant was used during the original 1998 restoration – leaving it vulnerable to deterioration in direct sunlight.

Clips used to hold the panes of glass in place were also omitted from the project, the expert added.

If left “unchecked” glass would continue to slip from its frames and water would leak into the Winter Gardens, the report said. It recommended the council either fully reglaze the roof, or replace the external watertight seal. The second option was seen as a “short term” solution.

Councillor Robert Connelly said the fact the city council had known about the state of the glazing since 2014 was “very frustrating”.

He said: “Twenty years and the sealant is already degrading? That shouldn’t happen.

“We should be using proper sealant, and use things that will keep our buildings intact in the long run rather than a short-term fix.

“Obviously, buildings degrade overtime, but if we do it properly we can extend the lifespan much further than 20 years.”

Despite the warning, a December 2014 report said a decision on the glazing project had not been reached and “costs were currently being determined”.

It also highlighted “cracking” had occurred in some of the brickwork where the glass house joined the People’s Palace, and the state of the rain gutters meant they needed to be “overhauled”.

In 2015, the council agreed “immediate repairs” were needed for the glazing, and if they were not addressed it would pose a “significant risk to health and safety”, another document revealed.

It added a “major investment” in the Winter Gardens should be advanced immediately.

Netting was hung in 2016 to catch any falling glass at a cost of £270,000, however a long term refurbishment plan has yet to be devised.

The city council told The Evening Times it is currently examining options for a “sustainable future” for the People’s Palace and Winter Gardens.

Since finding out about the problems in 2013, the council said it had done “everything they can” to keep the building open with the resources available to them.

But the “multi-million pound” investment needed “would always be highly challenging financially”.

A GCC spokesman added: “There is no question the Winter Gardens is a much loved part of the city’s heritage, but its detailed design will always require a substantial programme of repairs.”

Mr Connelly added that when the future of the buildings is opened up for public consultation he will be campaigning to ensure their history remains intact and adequate funding is found.

“It’s a very good Winter Gardens when it’s actually up and running, and the People’s Palace is important to the people of Glasgow,” he said.