LBWF Director of Governance and Law Mark Hynes releases his asbestos report and finds LBWF to have acted lawfully, but it’s not the final word

In September 2022, I asked the council’s Director of Governance and Law, Mark Hynes, to confirm that, in the period 2015-20, LBWF had managed asbestos in the Town Hall as required by the key piece of legislation, the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 (hereafter CAR 2012). I was particularly concerned about the Town Hall basement, where asbestos was known to be most prevalent, and wanted to establish that LBWF had learned the lessons of its 2015 conviction for exposing staff and contractors who had used the basement to dangerous asbestos dust.  A few days ago, 10 months after he agreed to investigate, Mr. Hynes finally released a report of his findings. This post looks at his arg... »

Departing CEO Martin Esom given freedom of the borough, though he was five years in post when LBWF was found to have exposed staff and contractors to asbestos

At the council meeting last week, departing CEO Martin Esom was granted the freedom of the borough. At first sight, many will conclude that he deserves such recognition, having guided the council for nearly thirteen years, albeit paid handsomely for his efforts, c. £200,000 every year, c. £2.6m in all. Yet it is often now overlooked that Mr. Esom had been in post for five years when in 2015 the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) successfully prosecuted LBWF for exposing staff and contractors in the Town Hall to asbestos dust which, in the words of the presiding judge ‘“posed them serious health risks”’. Worse, during the trial, it emerged that  (a) the asbestos issues in the Town Hall ha... »

The new Office of Local Government launches a tool to compare how councils are performing, and LBWF emerges as one of the laggards

The newly formed Office of Local Government (Oflog) has just launched a tool which shows how English councils are performing in terms of both their near neighbours and the national median. So far, the focus is on adult social care, finance, and waste management, with a total of 18 different metrics tracked. It’s fair to say that LBWF doesn’t come out of this exercise very well, performing below the national median in 14 cases, and above it in only four. The waste management data is indicative: LBWF consistently attempts to give the impression that it is somehow part of the vanguard. It’s early days yet, but this objective approach may turn out be a useful way of identifying and debunking suc... »

Local Democracy Reporter Josh Mellor exposes the botched refurbishment of LBWF’s John Walsh and Fred Wigg towers in Leytonstone

Local Democracy Reporter Josh Mellor has just published a terrific story in the Waltham Forest Echo about the botched refurbishment of LBWF’s John Walsh and Fred Wigg towers in Leytonstone, which has taken four years and millions of pounds, but for the most part remains incomplete: It’s all there: shoddy workmanship, cheap materials, haphazard job scheduling, spiralling costs, indifference to resident anxieties, and, as the programme failed, the coup de grace, LBWF’s surreptitious appointment of a consultant to ‘examine options’ – it’s al... »

Mr. Hynes asbestos inquiry report is still awaited, though promised for June, and meanwhile LBWF continues to fight off awkward questioning

In various statements made from the end of 2022 onwards, LBWF Director of Governance and Law, Mark Hynes, reiterated that he aimed to complete the report of his asbestos investigation by June 2023. In May 2023, the Leader, Cllr. Grace Williams, backed him up, telling councillors ‘we are expecting the final report imminently’, and elaborating: ‘the Monitoring Officer anticipates [it] will be available no later than June this year’. June has come and gone, but without any sign of the report, or any explanation as to why it is delayed. When asked, Mr. Hynes comments only: ‘I appreciate your continued patience on this matter. I hope to have finalised the report shortly’. One theor... »

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