Eyewitness: I saw man climbing the crane. I was scared for him

An eyewitness has told Inside Croydon of the terrifying incident when they saw a man climbing a construction crane hundreds of feet above the ground on a building site in the centre of Croydon.

The man eventually climbed down from the crane on the Henry building site

The man eventually came down from the crane of his own accord and was arrested, as the police mobilised a helicopter and emergency service vehicles spent hours attending the site on Tuesday.

The man, who has not been named by police, had gained access to the site on what was once the council’s HQ offices, Taberner House, and Queen’s Gardens, where construction contractors Henry are building four tower blocks comprising more than 500 flats for developers Hub.

Police reports suggest the man was first seen climbing up the crane at 7.30pm.

Inside Croydon’s loyal reader (who asked not to be identified), told us, “At 8pm on Tuesday, I was walking along Park Lane on my way home from my weekly shop when I saw a number of emergency vehicles (police, ambulance and fire brigade) parked next to the hoardings of the old Tabener House, now the ‘Queen’s Quarter’, building site.

“Queen’s Gardens had been taped off and there were a lot of people looking high up at the crane on top one of the smaller of the new high rises going up.

“I saw a man climbing up the crane. At that point, he was moving past the cab up into the narrower, higher part of the crane. He was moving quite quickly up the crane and was waving (or it looked like it) at the police helicopter that was circling the area.

Emergency vehicles and a police helicopter attended the scene on Tuesday night

“It was very distressing to see and I wasn’t keen to see the outcome, if he fell. I had to leave.”

The police reported that the man climbed down the crane at around 8.50pm.

Our eyewitness makes the point that Henry and their workers have been on the site, working as if normal throughout the coronavirus lockdown.

Taberner House was demolished in 2014. Although there was known to be a housing crisis at that time, the council did not appear to be in an urgent rush to develop the site and sold it off, together with a chunk of public open space in Queen’s Gardens, in a secretive deal in 2016. Although planning permission was granted in 2017, construction work did not begin until late 2018.

So it is difficult to understand how building now, in the middle of the covid-19 lockdown, when people are urged not to travel or congregate to avoid spreading the disease, might in any way be regarded as “essential work”.

Henry are the contractors also working on some sites owned by Brick by Brick, where building work has also continued despite the lockdown. At those sites, there have also been complaints from neighbouring residents about safety and site security – all ignored, of course.

Our eyewitness was back near Queen’s Gardens yesterday.

“The site was operating as normal, as it has done right through the lockdown period, in spite of a number of concerns being raised about the safety of construction workers.

“It can be seen by anyone walking past the site that government guidance about social distancing doesn’t appear to be being followed.”

About insidecroydon

News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
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