HGV lorry hits charity HQ for fifth time causing huge damage and sparking anger
A Solihull charity is at the end of its tether after a lorry struck its warehouse for the fifth time in eight years – causing bricks and metal to crumple. The wall and roof of Troop Aid’s industrial unit, in Radway Road, Shirley, has been left badly damaged after a HGV scraped the side of the unit while trying to complete a turn earlier this month. The incident leaves the charity, which provides “grab bags” for injured members of the Armed Forces, facing months of disruption and repairs expected to cost well in excess of GBP10,000.
And it has prompted a fresh plea for the council to take steps to prevent the site from being used as somewhere to park up by long-distance hauliers.
Aside from the anger over lorries repeatedly damaging premises, the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) has previously highlighted complaints that drivers had been leaving toilet waste at the stop-off. Pam Sutton, Troop Aid’s chief executive, said: “We have just had enough now. It’s 11 months to the day since the last huge damage.
“What we want [the council] to do is block trucks coming … they are not coming to deliver, they are coming to park up and rest.” Mrs Sutton and her husband Al were alerted to the latest incident after their alarm was triggered at tea-time on Sunday, November 15.
The damage visible from inside the unit in Radway Road, Shirley. (Image: Troop Aid)
The issue is now in the hands of insurance companies, with discussions underway between representatives of the charity and lorry firm. But it is thought the cost will be more than the GBP11,000 plus VAT which the previous incident, last December, had racked up, since the damage is more extensive this time.
And Mrs Sutton said that each instance takes a huge amount of time to sort out and proves immensely disruptive to the organisation’s operations. “From a charity’s point of view, suffering devastation this year [is on top] of not being able to do any fund raising whatsoever because of Covid. This is a blow to our daily routine.”
Troop Aid has made repeated pleas for road chiefs to discourage lorries from descending on the site, which houses around 30 units.
The charity, which helps provide essentials to service personnel who have been injured in combat or during training exercises, had moved to Radway Road from its former base in Hall Green, Birmingham eight years ago. Despite the series of incidents, it has been keen to remain at a premises which “suits them down to the ground” and has cited fears it would struggle to find somewhere else nearby to suit its needs. A petition, calling on Solihull Council to “urgently” address the problem and restrict “large articulated lorries from parking overnight” had been submitted in February 2019.
The problems at the stop-off, along with complaints that bottles of urine and excrement were being left by visiting drivers, led to a fresh appeal for action by Conservative campaigner Howard Nichols earlier in the year.
Troop Aid chief executive Pam Sutton. The charity was originally run from the couple’s home.
A Solihull Council spokesman said: “We have met and discussed this matter with Troop Aid, the tenants of this property, previously. “This site is very constrained and there is no space on the public highway on which to put any additional measures.
“Therefore we have recommended that additional vehicle restriction barriers, in addition to those already partly in place on the private frontage of the building, are installed which would provide increased protection to the building and reduce the risk of damage. “We suggested at the time that Troop Aid take the matter up with their landlord. “We are unable to restrict HGV’s in this location due to the requirement for access to the commercial premises, including Troop Aid, which are accessed from Radway Road.
“A previous request for additional restrictions at this location has been considered but was not prioritised at the time and does not feature on our upcoming programme.” Although Cllr Ken Hawkins, cabinet member for environment and highways, offered hope a solution could still be found and said he would continue to ask officers to look at the issue. He said that drivers had previously congregated in the Highlands Road area but restrictions introduced there had moved the problems “around the corner.”
“Troop Aid is a world-class organisation … it is exemplary,” he said. “And they have had a lot of damage.”