A HSE investigation was prompted by a complaint made to the Myth Buster’s panel when a member of the public asked to see information on election expenses but was told that this was not possible because the paperwork had been contaminated with asbestos. The investigation established that the Council had commissioned a survey of the building in 2002 which highlighted the presence of asbestos in the basement, and yet no steps were taken to control or remove it. A second survey in January 2012 also identified the asbestos and noted that no steps had been taken since it was first identified 10 years previously. This was despite the fact that staff and contractors who had worked in the basement throughout that time would have been exposed to asbestos. An improvement notice was subsequently served requiring the Council to produce a management plan to deal with the risk.
The Council pleaded guilty to breaching sections 2(1) and 3(1) HSWA and Regulation 4(8) of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006 and after a reduction of 1/3 to reflect the early guilty pleas, the Council was fined £66k and ordered to pay costs of £16,862.