Cranes operator in plea to politicians over ‘unnecessary’ road restrictions

Paul Parry

North West cranes company, John Sutch Cranes, is appealing to politicians to break down operational hurdles that it says is costing it hundreds of thousands of pounds.

It says its 34-strong fleet, based in its Liverpool and Manchester depots, faces costly travel restrictions when travelling the length and breadth of the UK.

In recent years the business has been hit by what owner John Sutch calls “unnecessary restrictions” by local councils and police forces, despite his company meeting every requirement to get cranes on the road and servicing customers.

He said: “While we understand the importance of regulations concerning heavy abnormal loads, it’s crucial to highlight that our operations primarily involve plant hire, which falls outside the scope of the current legislation.

“Moreover, we take great care to ensure compliance with axle weights and other relevant dimensions outlined in the application process.”

He added: “One of the major challenges we are encountering is the inconsistency between councils and police forces regarding the interpretation and enforcement of these regulations.

“This lack of uniformity not only adds to our operational burden, but also leads to financial losses. Additionally, the fact that applications are often handled by individual personnel within the organisation exposes us to subjective decision making processes, which can further exacerbate the situation.”

The company says the restrictions mean it incurs costs running into thousands of pounds per month, which can reach six figures.

Sales director, Paul Parry, says the issue is not solely a John Sutch Cranes problem and is a universal one experienced by many fellow crane companies.

He added: “While we have depots in Bootle and Dukinfield, it’s a nationwide problem. Other companies will be feeling the same pinch points. It cannot continue.

“In a time where we need construction to stimulate the economy we are being constrained to make the positive impact we know we can make on construction sites. This is happening, frustratingly in some cases, by individuals who hold the power to say ‘no’ for reasons we cannot understand nor agree with.”

Mr Sutch and Mr Parry have enlisted the support of the Construction Plant Hire Association (CPA) and are also in talks with local MPs for Bootle and Sefton, Peter Dowd and Bill Esterson, respectively, as well as Shadow Minister for Social Care, Andrew Gwynne MP, who represents Denton, Reddish and Dukinfield.

Letters have also been issued to Metro Mayor of Liverpool City Region, Steve Rotheram, and his Greater Manchester counterpart, Andy Burnham.

Mr Sutch said: “We believe that open communication and cooperation between my business and the councils is essential to finding mutually beneficial solutions that uphold regulatory standards while enabling us to continue our operations effectively.

“We are confident that through dialogue and collaboration, we can work towards resolving the current situation and ensure the sustainable growth of our business while maintaining compliance with relevant regulations – but people have to come to the table.”