Kids' trampoline trashed by St Albans cinema work debris
PUBLISHED: 11:52 26 February 2015
A distraught St Albans mum has spent three months fighting to have her children's trampoline replaced after it was destroyed by building material heaved over a wall during the £1.6 million refit of The Odyssey Cinema.
After being fobbed off by builders and insurers and her pleas for help ignored by The Odyssey, a fuming Penny Glazebrook, of Alma Cut, whose home backs onto the cinema, has complained to the Health and Safety Executive.
The mum-of-two said that one morning in early November she awoke to find her children’s trampoline covered with and destroyed by heavy building material from Procare Building Services.
When she initially brought the damage to their attention, Procare and site project managers Robert Martell and Partners said the trampoline would be replaced and remedial work - decking - carried out on her damaged yard.
Procare then asked Herts Police to investigate the incident and they carried out a forensic examination to try and establish how an enclosed area could have been broken into and heavy material, including a transformer, thrown over the wall.
But the case has since been closed as there were no leads to investigate further.
Penny has since been left chasing up Procare, its insurers AXA, the project managers and the cinema’s owner, James Hannaway, for her trampoline to be replaced.
She said: “I’m being fobbed off. It was lucky that my kids weren’t on the trampoline at the time as there could have been a fatality. It has been inconvenient for them not to have it replaced.”
When the matter dragged on, Penny, a psychotherapist, turned to St Peters Ward councillor Alec Campbell for his help.
Although Cllr Campbell urged Procare to replace the play equipment, the firm told him it was not liable for the trampoline because someone had broken into the construction site.
He added: “I think they have mishandled it as they set a level of expectation and then did not fulfil it, as their insurance company has been backing away.”
Cllr Campbell told Procare that any reasonable company would “accept liability for poor security”.
Procare then further infuriated Penny by recommending she approach her own insurance company – but she does not have household insurance and as it was not her building debris, even if she could make a claim, she said it should not be her responsibility.
A spokesman for Procare referred the Herts Advertiser to its insurers, adding that the firm “didn’t dump the material. I don’t know how it got over the wall”.
AXA wrote to Penny last Monday apologising for “distress this incident has brought you”.
While it did not dispute that the heavyweight plant and material was Procare’s site debris, the damage was not the building firm’s fault but “a malicious act by persons unknown”.
She was asked to explain why Procare was at fault and provide independent evidence to support her claim.
However, after the Herts Advertiser contacted AXA, the insurer backed down and a spokesman said yesterday: “There was a misunderstanding in dealing with the claim as settlement fell within the excess payable on the policy.
“This resulted in the delay in reimbursing [Penny] for her loss, but we have now contacted her and are in the process of settling her claim.”
In a letter to Penny AXA said after a review it acknowledged that the company in charge of the site “owe you a duty of care”.
James Hannaway declined to comment, but his spokeswoman said: “We trust you will write responsibly and sensibly to avoid stirring things about trivial things, with no other purpose than to fulfill your search for empty headlines. Care properly about the whole community you report to, without guesswork or sensation, and we will talk to you.”