Cemex in Kings Cross must be prosecuted @cemex_uk

noisy Cemex plant Rufford StreetCemex a colossal Mexican concrete company bought UK conrete-ier Readymix and the knackered old concrete plant sandwiched between Randalls Road, Rufford Street and the railway.  They have a long history of incredibly noisy, in my view illegal behaviour.  We have been covering their mis-demeanours on this site since 2006, most recently last year.  And now they are at it again.  Local resident Stuart (a lawyer) copies me his Saturday email to Cemex:

The noise coming from the site today is unbearable. I cannot hear myself think and I cannot concentrate on work I have to do following a 50 hour working week.

You have been carrying out the activity I have complained about before whereby a man with a mallet bashes the cement mixers presumably to remove concrete as part of a cleaning process. This is primitive and unbearably noisy. Since 0925 this morning this has been non-stop (3 hours and counting). It is a Saturday. The noise far exceeds any other construction noise that would be tolerated in a residential area.

When they are battering away like this it is a like a huge atonal church bell echoing through the neighbourhood.

Cemex in 2006/7 was investigated by Islington’s environmental health team after local people (including me) had made a number of complaints – here’s a letter from Islington to Cemex  (karas to cemex).  In my view Cemex are committing what is known as ‘statutory nuisance‘ – basically when a business repeatedly interferes with people’s right to quite enjoyment of their property.  The way statutory nuisance works, it is for the council to prosecute nuisance makers.  In 2006/7 to stave off possible prosecution Cemex agreed a noise management plan which you can see here: cemex noise management plan.

Over the years many complaints have been made in different ways and local people have tried to work with them.   Cemex though in a modern environmentally friendly guise have a management pattern which seems to be to let things slip until complaints get to a high level, then correct things and let them slip again over the following months and years.   Given the amount of construction in London and in the immediate area this must be a lucrative plant with aged most-likely written off facilities having money wrung out of them – the community should look at whether this is an appropriate site for a plant any more and whether a high enough price is being charged for its environmental impact.

Way, way back in the 1960s the application to build a concrete plant here was turned down twice by the council largely on noise grounds who were then over-ruled by the planning inspector – his report RMC Rufford St, Inspector, 1961  The area then was just as built up in a different way -there were buildings where the park now is and 1-2 Rufford Street now flats was a warehouse.  Anyone living there would have known that there was a concrete plant when moving in, but would have assumed reasonably that it abided by the law and did not commit nuisance.

As well as noise, every day Cemex receives many lorry loads of material to make concrete and lorries leave carrying concrete.  These gouge huge holes in the road where 30 tonne trucks make a very tight turn grinding out several huge potholes.   The holes are probably the biggest in Islington – you could raise a carp in one.  On a basic health and safety level these are huge vehicles making a reverse turn across a pavement with no banksman.  This would not be allowed on a building site.

Posted in Anti Social Behaviour, Crime etc, New, Noise, Noisy CEMEX concrete plant Rufford Street | Tagged | 1 Comment

Kings Cross broadcasts through time – courtesy of the #BBCgenome

BBC-LogoThe wonderful archive team at the BBC have put almost the entire contents of the Radio Times from 1923-2009 online in a project known as the BBC genome.  It’s a glorious resource you could get lost in for hours.  A quick search there for Kings Cross (and below for King’s Cross the BBC are apostrophe pedants) amid all the railway stuff provides some absolute gems from the sublime to the ridiculous.  Here’s a tantalising glimpse of a John Mortimer Play ‘Kings Cross Lunch Hour’

‘A play written in 1960, the TV adaptation became part of Thirty Minute Theatre twelve years later. John Mortimer’s style is much more spare here, when what’s not said is more significant than what is.

Joss Ackland and Pauline Collins play management and office girl on a lunch break in a seedy hotel in Kings Cross, run by Lila Kaye (a natural barmaid if there ever was one). They’re just there for an assignation – but Ackland’s dug a big hole for himself trying to invent a back story for why they’re there.

Collins is the perfect flighty girl from the typing pool – fake furs, giggles, and all. Ackland plays the repressed and frustrated boss perfectly, the glances at his watch showing agitation as everything conspires against the two of them being alone.

Dialogue-wise, this is a complex play but a successful one. In a short running time, we sympathise and empathise with the characters and get involved in their little story. And Kaye provides marvellous support, bristling behind her starchy outfit.’

According to Didi-5 at IMDB.  This was one of the ‘Thirty Minute Theatre’ productions

But if you search for King’s Cross (the BBC are apostrophe pedants it would seem – perhaps an apostrophe is more RP?) then you get a different view of the archive.

The piece I desperately want to hear is from 1933

A burlesque by the King’s Cross (London) Welsh Tabernacle Literary Society from King’s Cross Welsh Tabernacle Chapel, London
Lord Mayor…….The Rev. Elfed Lewis Principal Guest…….Lady Shan Teify
(Miss Janet Evans )
Master of Ceremonies
Sir Hurstwood Harries
(H. 0. Harries)

A burlesque by a Welsh Tabernacle Literary Society – fabulous

And this one from 1925 seems absolutely bonkers – Children’s Corner by a Welsh Druid from the Welsh Tabernacle in Kings Cross at the Piccadilly Hotel, which in those days of course had it’s own orchestra (for more on the Tabernacle search for it on this long British History page about Pentonville Road – fabulous to see the BBC broadcasting in Welsh in the 1920s and this interview in Kings Cross Voices)

2LO London, 1 March 1925 17.00

S.B. to all Stations.
Welsh Service.
Conducted by the ARCH-DRUID Helnyed from the Welsh Tabernacle, King’s Cross, London. S.B. to other Stations.
Relayed from
The Piccadilly Hotel, London.
S.B. to other Stations.

And there is even a Goon Show 

‘Peter Sellers, Harry Secombe and Spike Milligan in ‘ Foiled by President Fred ‘
Two poverty-stricken foreign devils, Sefior Grytpype-thynne and Count Moriarty, skint to the wide, are one day watching TV in their chicken-run in a King’s Cross back alley when Neddie Seagoon arrives to empty the gas meter.’

And a reminder that Roland Rat’s ratcave was under Kings Cross Station

Live from the Ratcave studios underneath King’s Cross station it’s the international megastar with another scintillating show.
A strange pet arrives for Little Reggie and joins the other bunch of hangers-on in the Ratcave, thus assuring itself of fame and fortune for the rest of its life. But who is this strange pet? Professor Stanley Unwin and Margaret Thatcher are among the lucky guests in the programme that refreshes the parts other shows cannot reach.

The Radio Times is of course merely the data that tells us about the programmes (what the geeks call ‘metadata’).  Now if only the archive itself was online, we could replay these broadcasts to the modern Kings Cross community and connect them with their past, in situ.

Posted in Arts and Entertainment, Community stuff, Film | Tagged , | Leave a comment

North or South?

The Guardian seems to love Kings Cross. Based on the North-Eastern side, they must be happy.  Long gone are the echoes that once it was the building it occupies, Kings Place that was once called a construction monster by many locals, set along the old Kings Cross boat harbour. But now with so many other high rise buildings you would not notice.  Kings Place seems to blend in with all the rest.

What impression you get from Kings Cross very much depends which exit you choose.  We compare the two furthest Southern and Northern exist of Kings Cross / St. Pancras and wonder if the difference is symbolic?

Take a look:

2014-10-14 10.18.00

Most Northern Exit prides two escalators, well done tiling, and glass wall.  There is also an escalator for those unable to take to the stairs.


A Lightwall leads to the trains.  The tiles are still well done, and interesting and well polished metal work (c) Daniel Zylbersztajn

The a Lightwall with great metallic features greets you as you walk along.  All parts are clean and well polished.

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As you walk out towards the up-most Southern exit the tile work is unbearably bad.  The tiles are also dirty with stains that appear to be there since the exist has opened.  The metal work is unpolished and dirty.  In some areas there is visible damage.

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The floor is badly maintained and appears shabby.  There are no escalators and no lifts  on this side of Euston Road, not even a German style two-way escalator.

2014-10-14 10.25.23

The definite end of Kings Cross development?  Compared to the other side with its bright pavement stones, pedestrianized areas, food stores,  South of Euston Road looks rather deprived sad and grey.

Posted in New | 5 Comments

The issue of the little pool revisited.

A year ago we raised the issue of Camden only providing a new swimming pool of the length of 25 meters plus a small hot tub pool.  There clearly was no space, or maybe there was but a lack of imagination?  Funny when you see this photo of the rear of 5 Pancras Square, where currently the foundations of a new building are being dug.

Examine the photo below taken this morning.  It is precisely in that basement that one could have created a longer, more meaningful leisure facility with a bit of will and creative thought, possibly connecting 5 Pancras Square with the new building for the purpose.  I do not think the owners of the building would have said no, if they would have been given free access to that facility.  Granary Square and the basketball court in honour, a big public sport facility would have set a legacy here for decades to come and for 10.000s of people.

It is not too late though, there are more buildings to be constructed, and maybe Argent and its partners can imagine to connect two basements for a more generously spaced sport facility, and maybe, even Islington and Camden could unite budgets for once, to support it, as all their facilities are already managed by the same sport facility group (Better).  Up your game to provide facilities that can be used properly by aspiring athletes and you can attract further support and finance from bodies like Sport England, the Lottery a.o.

2014-10-14 10.15.32

Related:  Only tiny pool for Kings Cross

Posted in New | 4 Comments

Mess around Kings Cross Square – TfL are letting the side down

mess on euston road bus stopWe wrote in January amid all the back slapping about the ‘completion’ of Kings Cross Square that there would be issues with keeping it clean and tidy and a welcoming public space.  In any public realm one needs to be clear who is keeping which bits of it under control – in this case a set of agents that needed a map to explain it.  Local resident Andrew reported last week that the area behind the bus stops is repeatedly hugely messy in the mornings – as this photo shows, and he has sent others. According to the map Camden supplied to us this area is the responsibility of TfL.  Andrew is trying to track someone down to sort it.  In this particular picture one can see a lot of MacDonalds wrappers amidst other take away and off licence debris. Maybe they should get out with a McBrush too.


Posted in Kings Cross Station Refurbishment, Street Tipping, Mess, Trash | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

Proposed Institute of Physics building – startling new view from communal gardens

iop gardens view

A local resident has secured a startling new artists impression of the building the Institute of Physics are applying for planning permission for at the corner of Balfe Street and the Cally Road (behind the cocktail bar).  This is the proposed view from the communal gardens – a huge wall of glass and steel to the South.  You can still comment – Islington accepts comments in practice up to the point of the decision making committee and have done so for many years, the 2 October deadline is just an administrative thing.   And this is new information so if it moves you to comment you have every right to do so but get your skates on.  The plans and the link for comments are online here.   The reference number is P2014/3577/FUL and our previous post is here.

The more I look at the Institute of Physics proposals, the more I think they have just got their approach wrong.   Their needs and plans are more than comfortably be fitted into this site in a conservation area.  And in tactics they would have been far wiser to have bought an option on the site subject to getting planning permission rather than snap up the freehold here – this was what the Whitbread team did on the corner of Wharfdale Road and York Way – they could see it was a sensitive site.

If I had to guess I think the IoP will withdraw these plans before determination and then submit something smaller in a few months, though given utility they seek from the building, it won’t be much smaller.  If the council turn this down, which they would have every right to do given the local plans and policies breached, particularly the conservation area then IoP are left with nothing.

It’s an old trick to withdraw when you can see a very risky planning meeting coming and when you come back a second time a developer usually reckons on a reduced local campaign and better chance at appeal.  Though people around KX are more determined than might appear.

Posted in Big developments, Planning, Licensing and Regulation | Tagged , | 3 Comments

Google tax – will it threaten Kings Cross or will Google just offset against USA tax bill?

google officeGoogle are slated to build a huge multi-£billion building in Kings Cross, in the main site next to the station.  Now the government is talking about taxing them – will this stop Gooogle going ahead, either literally if they can’t afford it, or as a political gesture/statement?

Google are going to dig a hole in the ground in Kings Cross and fill it full of money.  Reports suggest it will be ultra modern and a bit out there.  Google has already rejected one set of plans, reportedly tearing up the architects work (which was admittedly quite banal and nasty glass-slabby thing) and asking for something that will push the boundaries of office design. Why would they want to do this? Surely the money should go to shareholders? Apart from the tendentious arguments that expensive, bespoke wacky workplaces stimulate creativity? (Einstein remember came up with the critical parts of the special theory on relativity while working at the helter-skelter-free Swiss Patent office, possibly the most boring place on earth to work.)

Google and many big American multinationals have a huge cash pile of profits earned overseas that they can’t take back to the USA.  USA multinationals in fact according to Bloomberg have $1.95 trillion in cash held overseas – there’s an excellent graphic that shows Google is a mere arriviste in these stakes compared to others.  This money can’t easily be returned to American shareholders.  Congress is at an impasse on how to tax overseas profits and if companies hang on to them they aren’t taxed yet.  Tax is deferred until they try to take it back to the USA.  And one suspects this allows multinationals the leeway to splurge on creative buildings.

The UK Chancellor is now talking about taxing profits earned in the UK, in the UK, with particular reference to tech firms that earn profits in the UK squirreling them away in Irish and Luxemougois tax shelters (ie in the EU, but the lowest taxed bits)

A new tax on unpopular historic excess profits isn’t a new idea.  In the UK in 1997/8 the new Labour government tackled the excess profits of the privatised utilities with a ‘windfall tax‘ (as a civil servant at the time I was involved in the margins of this, hence the residual interest).  Some of the companies taxed then were American and they tried to offset their UK windfall tax bill against their American tax bill when they repatriated the profits on the principle that you don’t pay tax twice.  This was contested by the American government and the case wound its way through the courts, finally the Supreme Court decided last year that in fact the windfall tax could be offset against a USA tax bill as a credit when repatriating profits.

So, off the back of the Supreme Court judgement I wonder if a UK Treasury team could devise a structure where they tax Google’s profits (and those of other tech and multinationals) in the UK, giving them a USA tax credit, allowing Google to return money to their american shareholders at little further net cost.  Any tax experts out there who can say if this is bonkers – drop us a line in the comments?

And paradoxically the people who would lose would be American taxpayers, but without movement they won’t gain anyway as profits are held outside the USA.  Google might, if not come quietly at least be less noisy.

But it’s a zero-sum game.  If they are taxed in the UK would Google be pre-disposed to build such a colossal multi-£billion office in Kings Cross?  Would we get our bridge across the tracks? The BBC quotes ‘sources’ (most likely HMT special advisors) explaining that previously they hadn’t wanted to scare the multinationals off:

‘A source close to Osborne said the legal changes needed to force multinationals to pay UK taxes on UK profits are relatively simple. If that’s the case, it raises the question of why the government has not acted sooner.

‘The source said introducing the changes earlier may have scared the companies away from the UK and the nation could have lost them as big employers. Now, however, the source said “the tide of global political opinion” has changed and the rest of the world agrees that tax avoidance must stop.

So will the bucks stop in Kings Cross?  Who knows? It’s a strange site, quite hemmed in and awkward.  What if it were abandoned?  Could is be squatted as an ironic HQ for Privacy International, perhaps a craft workshop for parents who sell stuff on Etsy?  Fun suggestions for contrarian things to do with an abandoned Google office welcome in the comments.

Posted in Kings Cross N1C, New, railwayslands | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Cally Pool Gym and reception refurbishment – couple of days left to give views

cally pool receptionA couple of days left to have your say on the proposed refurbishment of the gym and reception at the Cally Pool.  I can’t find any more information online other than:



‘Here are some of the improvements you will be able to enjoy

State-of-the-art gym equipment
Reception foyer refurbishment
And much, much more…’

But i guess it’s a chance for you to say at least what sort of equipment you would like in the gym.  If I can find something will post it up but thought it best to alert people (click the link above to go to the comment form).   The changing rooms were refurbished at the end of last year.  Thanks to Cllr Paul Convery for the tip off.

Posted in Sports | Tagged | 2 Comments