St Albans concrete crusher controversy polarises estate

THE managing director of a St Albans based haulage company has lashed out at district councillors who organised a protest to coincide with a planning inspector’s visit to his business premises.

Eighty people attended a rally outside Kane Haulage in Porters Wood, Valley Road, on Monday to protest at the crushing of demolition material near the company’s offices on the industrial estate.

St Albans district councillors for Marshalswick South, Rod Perks and Melvyn Teare, said they and firms in the estate feared that a concrete crusher brought on to the site was there to stay.

The rally coincided with a site visit by a planning inspector, as Kane is appealing against a decision by the council to refuse retrospective approval for 2.4m-high fences and overnight parking of heavy goods vehicles at Porters Wood.

But the protest and a pamphlet circulated by the councillors in the area criticising the haulage firm, which employs 130 people, has been lambasted by managing director Andy Kane.

He said that Cllrs Teare and Perks appeared to be following their own political agenda, and that the concrete crusher was to be on site for about a week only and would be removed by early next week.

The firm has recently purchased and demolished the former Photomec building at the estate which is located next to a site Kane built to park trucks.

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Mr Kane explained that the firm had received council approval to temporarily use the crusher to pulverise rubble from the Photomec office, which will then be reused as a sub-base underneath new concrete slabs to be placed at the Porters Wood site.

He said his lawyers had been instructed to review the councillors’ pamphlet, which he dismissed as “unsubstantiated rubbish”.

Mr Kane was also concerned that the councillors’ actions could have an impact on the planning inspector’s decision.

The council’s planning central committee recently granted temporary approval for Kane to park 30 tipper vehicles overnight at Porters Wood, which expires in January next year.

But Mr Kane is appealing against the rejection of an earlier application for both the fencing and parking on the grounds that the council took too long to consider the scheme and legal costs to submit the recently approved second, slightly modified, version had amounted to about �50,000.

In a press release, Cllrs Perks and Teare said that the “uncontrolled expansion of demolition-obsessive” Kane was in danger of threatening the welfare and livelihoods of businesses at the estate, and the enjoyment of adjoining residents in nearby approach roads.

They said neighbouring businesses were “very upset” about the concrete crushing being carried out near their premises.

John Pratt, owner of neighbouring Lonsdale Window Fashions, said he did not want the concrete crushing machinery to be a permanent fixture, as fabric would be affected by dust and the health of staff would also suffer.

He was also concerned about the number of lorries to be parked at Porters Wood, which he said was a “very bad spot” and might create havoc for local traffic.