'Get tough on safety after Bow crane tragedy,' MP tells Commons

Toppled crane and cabin at Bromley-by-Bow in July 2020 

Toppled crane and cabin at Bromley-by-Bow in July 2020 - Credit: Mike Brooke

MP Apsana Begum has demanded tougher measures for operating construction site cranes during a Commons debate on safety regulations, following last summer's tragedy in Bromley-by-Bow.

A 60ft crane toppled over in July last year which killed 85-year-old June Harvey in her home in Compton Close next to the Watts Grove construction site.  

Collapsed crane that crashed through roof of June Harvey's home

Collapsed crane that crashed through roof of June Harvey's home - Credit: Sid Rahman

“We need robust legislation and enforcement," Ms Begum urged MPs. "Trends of deregulation are widespread, mostly regarding cladding which has also affected many families in east London and was pulled into focus by the Grenfell Tower fire." 

The east London MP, whose Poplar and Limehouse constituency includes Compton Close, pointed out that the Grenfell Tower tragedy was a warning for "what could continue to happen" if health and safety regulations were not tightened. 

MP Apsana Begum... crane safety regulation "not fit for purpose".

MP Apsana Begum... crane safety regulation "not fit for purpose". - Credit: Jess Hurd

“The safety regulation for (operating) cranes is not fit for purpose,” she insisted. “Neither is it enforced robustly. 


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“Accidents such as Bromley-by-Bow will continue on a strikingly regular basis unless regulations are part of our legislation.”  

Tragic June Harvey, 85, killed when crane crashed through roof of her home 

Tragic June Harvey, 85, killed when crane crashed through roof of her home - Credit: Harvey family

June Harvey was in an upstairs bedroom in one of the terraced houses in Compton Close when the crane crashed down through the roof. 

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Her great-nephew Sam Atkinson, who lived in the house along with his mother Jacqueline Atkinson, later recalled the noise being “so loud that I thought a plane had crashed”. 

He said at the time: “I was screaming for my mum and my aunt and tried pushing through the rubble, but it was impossible. The whole house was crumbling around me.” 

The terrace of six cottages in Compton Close took the brunt of the crane collapsing on July 8 and three others were injured, including a building site worker who was operating the crane when it toppled.

 Ironic message on Watts Grove construction site after crane collapse

Ironic message on Watts Grove construction site after crane collapse - Credit: Mike Brooke

All the houses in Compton Close had to be evacuated and the families spent weeks and months in hotel B&B accommodation in Whitechapel and Canning Town.

One neighbour who escaped injury, care worker Tracy Clachar, was given a temporary home in a tower block in Poplar, but felt nervous as there was scaffolding on the adjoining block which was having cladding removed.

It was “a constant reminder” of the dangerous building site next to Compton Close. 

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