Waltham Forest Council Fined After Asbestos Safety Failings

Lawyers Call On Local Authorities To Learn From Prosecution


Specialist lawyers have urged that councils recognise their responsibilities when it comes to handling asbestos, after the London Borough of Waltham Forest was fined £66,000 and ordered to pay costs after admitting to safety failings in relation to material at its Town Hall.

The prosecution brought by the Health and Safety Executive came after the three different types of the material were identified in the basement at the site on Forest Road in 2012, despite warnings since 2002 that the authority had to take to tackle the problem to protect the public and workers.

According to reports, the issue first came to light when a local man request to see documents and was denied permission due to claims the information had been contaminated.

In a hearing at Southwark Crown Court, Judge Deborah Taylor handed down the fine and warned that the fine would have been higher should the offence have been recorded against a private company.

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Expert Opinion
"This is a very worrying case in which a local council has failed to take steps to properly manage the presence of asbestos in its building, potentially leaving their staff, visiting contractors and the general public at risk of exposure to the material.

"While asbestos is often linked to industrial environments, we are increasingly seeing cases relating to those exposed to its fibres in public buildings such as council offices, hospitals and schools where it was previously used as part of the construction process.

"It is vital that councils ensure proper strategies and policies are in place for the proper management of asbestos, wherever it is present. That proper procedures were not followed by a local authority, charged with providing services for all members of the community, is particularly shocking. I hope that other authorities will learn the lessons from these serious failings in Waltham Forest."
Ian Bailey, Partner