IslingtonTribune

The independent London newspaper

Two men knocked into canal as hoardings fall

Passing pedestrian and cyclist escape with bumps and scratches after being thrown into water

21 April, 2017 — By Koos Couvée

The scene after hoardings toppled onto the canal towpath near Angel

TWO men were knocked into Regent’s Canal near Angel when hoardings surrounding a building site suddenly collapsed.

A cyclist and a pedestrian were thrown into the canal as they passed the hoardings to the rear of Arlington Avenue last Tuesday.

Both men were able to scramble out of the water quickly, escaping with bumps and scratches – and a number of ruined possessions, including smartphones.

The building, known as Arlington Wharf, an old veneer yard, was last in use more than two years ago as storage space.

It has been owned by Barry Clutterbuck, of Springvale Ltd, and Blake Gorst, of Clerks Well Properties, since the late 1980s. The owners initially wanted to convert the building into flats but now intend to rent it out as offices, for which they have the support of Islington Council. Building work is continuing.

Ian Shacklock, chairman of the Friends of Regent’s Canal, said the collapse of the wooden boards could have had a far worse outcome if it had involved a child or an elderly person.

“I’ve got no idea what checks were carried out on that development,” he said.

“A person could have been knocked out and thrown into the water. If such hoardings come down and knock you on the head, you’ve got no chance.”

A spokesman for the Canal and River Trust (CRT) was shocked by the incident.

Canal campaigner Ian Shacklock

“We know both gentleman who ended up in the canal have suffered injuries and damage to their property,” he said. “It’s just thankful that nobody was more seriously hurt.

“We are contacting the developers working on the site, who are responsible for putting up the hoardings, to establish what happened and ensure it won’t be repeated.

“It goes without saying that anyone working alongside the canal has to have the highest safety standards.”

The development came under fire from the Friends of Regent’s Canal last year after construction workers cleared a stretch of shrubs and trees without consultation with community groups.

At the time, CRT, which is responsible for the towpath, expressed concern about the clearance, saying that details had not yet been agreed and suggesting that the owners may have to replant trees and vegetation.

Mr Shacklock added: “They didn’t consult before they chopped down the trees, which was a bad start. They destroyed the look and feel of that area, a nice leafy stretch.

“The whole thing could have been avoided if they had consulted people.”

The Tribune understands the owners of the site are in touch with the cyclist knocked into the canal, who declined to comment.

The London Fire Brigade attended to make the structure safe. A spokesman for the Met said that “no criminal offences were disclosed”.

A spokesman for the Health and Safety Executive said it had not been made aware of the incident at this stage.

The Tribune tried to contact the owners of the site through a planning agent but had not received a reply yesterday (Thursday).

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