Redbridge Council contract worker suspended after photos fracas

A council contract worker has been suspended after an incident in which he is alleged to have snatched a camera from Recorder photographer Steve Poston and deleted pictures, as the 60-year-old woman he was taking photos of sobbed by the roadside.

A full investigation has been launched by Redbridge Council’s highways contractor Kenson Contractors, after Steve was confronted as he took pictures of repaired potholes in Clayhall.

The potholes were being filled in after 89-year-old Violet Cole died last week of a heart attack, one day after falling face first when her walking trolley got caught in a pothole right next to her home in Herent Drive, Clayhall.

Friend Trudi Hollens, who was calling on the council to repair the road, was being pictured next to the potholes on Tuesday with workmen in the background when the incident happened.

Mrs Hollens, who said she was still shaking hours later, told the Recorder: “It’s totally shocking, particularly because it was a week to the day since Vi died.

“I was crying my eyes out. It was just horrible. He was saying, ‘I don’t want to be associated with the accident’, but we weren’t asking him to be associated with it.

“All we were doing was showing that action was being taken to fill in the potholes.”

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She said the man had used bad language during the confrontation and had “snatched the camera” from Steve.

The council said of the alleged incident: “We regret this has happened, particularly following the sad death of Mrs Cole.”

Paul Yabsley, managing director of Kenson Contractors Ltd, said: “We are conducting a thorough investigation, which has involved taking a full statement from the operative concerned.”

It took about 30 minutes for the camera to be returned, after the worker was spoken to by a senior colleague who arrived.

Steve said: “He said if I didn’t get rid of the images, he would take the camera and smash it, to which I told him he had no right to do that.”