After 64 working days, LBWF Director of Governance and Law, Mark Hynes, is still to complete his asbestos inquiry, ratcheting up public unease

In an e-mail of 30 January 2023, LBWF Director of Governance and Law Mark Hynes writes:

‘Although I was hoping to have concluded my review into the concerns you raised about asbestos management compliance, the matter is still ongoing. I hope to have concluded matters in the near future and will write to you again at that time’.

I first contacted Mr. Hynes about whether LBWF had respected the asbestos legislation on 1 September 2022.

He made no substantive response for eight weeks, and then on 27 October 2022 suddenly announced an inquiry.

Now, some 64 working days later, and despite the no doubt costly assistance of ‘global law firm’ Clyde & Co. LLP, there’s still no outcome.

Meanwhile, other revelations add to the sense of disquiet. As previously reported, Mr. Hynes’ inquiry has no terms of reference, meaning, rather conveniently, that in future no-one will know whether he has satisfactorily completed what he set out to do.

In addition, when recently asked under the Freedom of Information Act for copies of the permits that were issued prior to contractors embarking on re-building work in the asbestos-ridden Town Hall basement, LBWF replies that it ‘does not directly hold the information requested’, but is ‘currently working with its service providers’ to get it, another surprising admission, especially as these documents are a key health and safety prerequisite, and surely should have been secured at the very outset.

It is possible that progress has been so slow because there really are complications, even obstructions. On the other hand, there is a full council meeting on 2 March 2023, and perhaps LBWF is filibustering in order to avoid public questioning.

Whatever the truth, and given that Private Eye has twice published critical commentary in its ‘Rotten Boroughs’ pages, public confidence in Mr. Hynes’ endeavours now hangs by a thread.