Demonstrators confront Tarmac over roads

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Environmentalists targeted Tarmac's annual meeting yesterday as part of a growing campaign by protesters against Britain's building groups, writes Russell Hotten.

Sir John Banham, chairman, deflected some of their anger by announcing the setting-up of an environmental advisory panel of independent members to monitor the company's activities.

Protesters have been attending Tarmac's annual meetings for several years because of its involvement in road building. The company was involved in the motorway extension through Twyford Down.

One the financial front, Sir John said the company was still suffering from housing market pressures. Pressure on prices and margins would continue throughout the year, he told shareholders. "That is,'' he added, "unless the Government recognises the importance of taking positive steps quickly to restore confidence in the home owner and prospective house purchaser.''

The company would complete and sell fewer houses than in the first half of 1994 and operating profits in the half year would be lower, Sir John said.

There had been improvements in the quarry products business, where a recovery in prices is being maintained. However, Sir John remained cautious because of Government cutbacks in roads spending. Tarmac's businesses in America, France and South-east Asia were performing well, he said.