‘They’ve been a nuisance ever since they’ve been here’, says pub owner Sam Watt.
Sam’s pub, The Star Inn, is one of the Albert Street businesses to be blighted by their ‘rogue’ ex-neighbour Hunter Group.
The waste disposal business formerly known as Hunter’s- run by 25-year-old Sam Hunter - caught fire for the second time on Thursday night.
Sam Watt has been awake all night worrying about the business and home she’s owned for 15 years.
At around 7pm on Thursday police told her to evacuate the pub as an inferno ignited in rubbish left on the Queens Mill Road site. The cause is still unknown.
She picked up her dog and went to sleep at an employee’s house – not that she got any rest.
It wasn’t the first time Hunter Group – and what remains of its former Lockwood site – has caused her misery.
The stench of rotting waste, and the flies and rodents it has attracted, has put customers off and on warm summer nights she’s been forced to sleep with the windows closed.
Sam believes the fire would never have happened had Hunter Group done its job.
She says: “I’m tired, fed up and worried.
“I’m angry because they haven’t done what they were supposed to do.
“I can’t have the windows of my pub open.
“We’ve seen rats and flies shooting about and this could have been prevented if they’d adhered to the rules of waste disposal.” On Queens Mills Lane the acrid pong from burning plastic is impossible to ignore.
Timeline: History of the Hunter Group
Hunter Demolition (Yorkshire) Ltd is registered as a limited company.
Its registered address is Branch Road, Batley.
Its director is Sam Hunter, then aged 19.
Company is renamed Sam H Services
The company is renamed Hunter Group (Yorkshire) Ltd.
It is registered at Boothroyd Lane, Dewsbury.
According to Hunter Group's accounts, later filed at Companies House, it owed £365,028 and had assets valued at £195,661.
Residents, who have hired skips from the company, begin complaining that their skips are not being collected.
- Kirklees Council writes to Hunter Group ordering it to remove a giant skip from land off Marsh Lane, Shepley – or face enforcement action.
- The Enviroment Agency begins its investigation into company after waste escapes from Lockwood site and falls into River Holme.
- The company is blamed for damaging the pavement on Queens Mill Road with its trucks.
Kirklees Council applies for an injunction against the company.
Companies House threatens to strike Hunter Group (Yorkshire) Ltd off the register, although the threat is rescinded in May.
June 21, 2016
Sam Hunter resigns and George Louis Anderson becomes company director.
June 23, 2016
The company changes its registered address to Scotland Yard, Queens Mill Road, Lockwood.
Hunter Group abandons the Lockwood site leaving a mountain of waste.
A fire breaks out on the site caused by heat generated by compacted waste.
August 18, 2016
A large fire breaks out at the Queens Mill Road site which firefighters say may take a week to put out.
As firefighters battle to control the smouldering heap – they reckon it’ll take a few more days – rancid brown water inundates the street dragging chunks of charred waste as a lone fireman battles to stop the drains getting blocked.
The site is believed to have been sold to an undisclosed owner.
Last week the Environment Agency said: “We are continuing to investigate the waste site known as Hunter’s in Huddersfield. The site has been secured while the operation is inactive. However, we are in contact with the owner of Sam H Services and the landowner regarding their environmental responsibilities and the future management of the waste on the site.
“We are also continuing our investigations into the activities of the previous permit holder.”
Next door to the site is glass manufacturer Novaglaze.
Manager Steve Rushworth is furious about his former neighbour but he’s more concerned about the people living a stone’s throw from the former Hunter Group site.
Steve says: “I really feel for the people that live round here. I feel for the families that live above that site.
“Hunter Group has caused a lot of mayhem and trouble.
“The pollution that people will be inhaling can’t be good for the children and old people living there.”
He adds: “It’s a bit of a joke.”
Just across the River Holme from the former Hunter site is car repair firm Greenwoods Victoria Garage.
Owner Ian Roper has had to send a mechanic home today who was sick after inhaling smoke from the blaze.
He says: “I’ve had problems with Hunter’s for three years.
“At the end of the day who’s going to pick up the bill for this?”
He adds: “They’ve been irresponsible, arrogant and unprofessional.”