MASONS' REPRIEVE AFTER CRISIS TALKS.
MASONRY firms called emergency talks with quarry bosses yesterday amid fears the company would no longer be able to supply some of its customers.
Johnsons Wellfield Quarries (JWQ), which mines Yorkshire stone from Crosland Hill, last week announced it would no longer be able to supply its smaller customers.
JWQ said it would not be able to offer by-product - smaller stones extracted as a by-product of quarrying which can be cut into paving flags and kerbs.
The company has blamed the decision on increased fuel and excavation costs, together with a reduction in demand for its main product.
But following a last-minute meeting with representatives of seven affected companies yesterday, JWQ has agreed to supply some of its smaller customers until they can find another stone supplier.
JWQ director Shaun Berry said: "JWQ have made the difficult decision not to supply by-product to smaller dimensioned stone companies.
"Due to the massive increase in fuel prices over the last 18 months our extraction costs have escalated and combined with a reduction in demand for our products during the recession, we no longer have the abundance of by-product we have had in recent years.
"We are currently making a planning application to allow us to extract mineral for the next 15 years.
"However until these approvals are granted we need to preserve our current reserves for our core activity, which is to supply high quality engineered natural stone to a national market.
"This decision was not made lightly, but we feel it is essential to secure the future of this long established local business in what are extremely challenging times.
"We have met with seven companies this morning with whom we are currently, or have previously, supplied stone to.
"We value our relationships with all our customers and are therefore in dialogue regarding any current commitments they have to fulfil."
Garry Hodgkinson, whose Keighley-based masonry company M&G Stone is one of JWQ's customers, organised the talks.
Mr Hodgkinson said: "We had a meeting with the director and he said he would give us more time. That's wonderful news. We support JWQ fully.
"It could save lots of companies who are dependant on their stone."
Johnsons have a history of quarrying in Huddersfield dating back to 1850.
The Yorkstone they supply has been used in many town centre pavements and walls and was a key part of the recent revamp of St George's Square.
The company has also done work at the University of Huddersfield and supplied stone for a major regeneration project at Shibden Hall.
* FEARS: Garry Hodgkinson, centre, with fellow stonemasons before emergency talks with Johnson Wellfield Quarries at Crosland Hill