Property developer to be prosecuted by HSE after crane collapse in Saffron Walden

THE Health and Safety Executive is to prosecute a property developer over an incident which saw families evacuated from their homes two days before Christmas when a crane jib fell 80ft and narrowly missed a nearby primary school.

McCarthy & Stone, which finished building 27 retirement apartments on South Road, Saffron Walden, in January, is to appear at Chelmsford Magistrates’ Court on July 4 charged with an alleged breach of section 23 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

On December 23, 2011, residents living near St Thomas More Primary School were forced to leave their homes as a safety precaution after a crane jib and hoist crashed into a garage at Lancaster House at about 4.30pm. No-one was injured in the incident.

The garage was damaged and debris thrown into the gardens of neighbouring properties.

Evacuees were given shelter at the Lord Butler Fitness and Leisure Centre before being moved to local hotels to spend the night.

Essex Fire and Rescue crews made the area safe and residents were allowed to return to their homes on Christmas Eve.

A spokesman for McCarthy & Stone said: “We have co-operated fully with the HSE throughout its investigation into the incident on December 23, 2011, and we await the outcome of the hearing on July 4.”

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The company is also being investigated over a second incident at the building site in September 2012. On that occasion a worker suffered a minor injury when a hook from a hired Bronzeshield mobile crane broke off and crashed through the roof of a building under construction.

McCarthy & Stone issued a statement at the time confirming the incident had occurred but said no members of the public were at risk at any point.

A spokesman from the HSE told the Reporter investigations were still ongoing.