Town Hall asbestos: new revelations

Before, during, and after its recent court case over asbestos contamination in the Town Hall, LBWF gave the impression that, having been made aware of the problem in early 2012, it then spent a large sum of money making the building safe. Thus, to give one example, a LBWF briefing dated 16 July 2012 states:

‘From 24th February – 19th May, the contractor carried out the decontamination work removing all dust and debris [Emphasis Added]. Where positive readings were recorded, any files that were exposed were deemed potentially contaminated. In some areas this is substantial’.

However, it now appears that this happy picture is by no means the whole truth.

Very recently, I have obtained a copy of a Spectra Analysis Services Ltd. survey of the Town Hall asbestos dated 13 December 2013, of which I was previously unaware.

And astonishingly, this shows that at that date the asbestos problem in the Town Hall still persisted.

Thus, the survey found

(a) nine locations where the ‘Material Risk Score’ was over 10 – the significance of that number being that ‘Material Scores Above 10 Have High Potential To Release Fibres’; and

(b) five locations requiring ‘Removal’, with all of these involving ‘debris’ – i.e. exactly the material which was supposed already to have been dealt with!

What is interesting, too, is that the HSE knew of this survey, but felt it was to some extent flawed, with an HM Specialist Inspector noting in a paper for the court:

‘Spectra Analysis Services Ltd carried out a detailed survey of the whole town hall complex in Spring/Summer of 2013. The exact date is not clear as there are a number of typographical errors in the survey and the layout of the survey itself is confusing’.

So, in conclusion, we now know that whatever action the Council took in 2012 was not sufficient to clear up the contamination in the Town Hall; and local council tax payers have coughed up for a survey that is apparently judged by the experts to be in certain respects less than helpful.

It will be interesting to discover what other skeletons lurk in the LBWF cupboard. My guess is: plenty.