Comment 1 November 2002
THE ASBESTOS STORY
Another tale of the Tunbridge Wells Council Officers' behaviour
We set out the correspondence relating to the possible illegal removal of asbestos and our efforts, having reported the matter to make officers concerned enough to call for proper investigation.
The Telephone House Neighbours Association has not replied to the letter of 16 October 2002 from Mr John Haynes, Director of Operational Services, Tunbridge Wells Borough Council.
following are our thoughts and the questions we might ask.
- We advised Mr Haynes that in February 2002 "rubbish" or "debris" was removed from the building in bags thrown from the top floor or by chute (assuming the chute was not put up for the purpose of deception) and included 4 air ventilators.
- Mr Haynes now says that there were no "works" or "activity" whatever these words are intended to mean. We hope that it is obvious what we mean . We are concerned only that the rubbish or debris or air ventilators contained asbestos.
- He seems to be saying that because it was rubbish it could not be asbestos.
- He has found no evidence to indicate whether the debris did or did not contain asbestos. The only evidence in this direction comes form the Health and Safety Executive who in September 2002 stated that there was no evidence of "recent asbestos removal". We are talking about February, not September – 7 months earlier.
- He even seems to be suggesting that the work (used in the loosest possible sense) going on in early February 2002 must be a figment of some local residents' imagination unless he can take witness statements to prove to the contrary!
- It should be quite obvious what was going on if he read the contemporaneous e-mails sent to the Council. It should be clear beyond doubt, if officer Duncan Haynes, Environmental Services, TWBC, no relation as far as we know, or any other employee visited the site.
- Did he or anyone visit the site?
- What did they see?
- Did Mr Haynes think to take witness statements from the Council employees?
- If so, may we please sight copies?
- Crest have advised that "they took nothing from the building" (Ken Munday, Crest Nicholson, to CALA Homes 16.09.02). They have admitted according to Mr Haynes' letter that they removed rubbish. They failed to clean the site area, so has he thought to ask them
- Where the rubbish which they removed "had built up"?
- And was this rubbish removed by skip?
- If not, how was it removed?
- Crest have also advised that an unauthorised skip on site was filled with rubbish which they presumed was from adjoining properties. They had to find the skip owner to have it removed. Presumably the skip owner must know who instructed them to put it on site in the first place.
Did Mr Haynes think to pursue the line of enquiry?
- If nothing was taken from the building by Crest
- Who did remove the rubbish from the top floor?
- Did Crest authorised anyone else to remove rubbish?
- If not, does Mr Haynes think the rubbish might have been stolen by some audacious thieves who went to the trouble to put up a chute to assist?
- What could have been of such value to a thief which would not have been damaged by being thrown off the roof in a bag or down a chute?
- Mr Haynes suggests taking witness statements. Whilst we would be pleased, subject to their agreement, to give the names and addresses of witnesses, we think it preferable, if formal statements have to be taken, that this is done by the police.
- If Mr Haynes really wishes to ascertain whether asbestos was illegally removed surely one good way forward is for the officers witnesses (if any) and the residents witnesses to meet. A clearer picture of the facts would be established.
Many of those visiting our website and reading of yet another saga involving the officers of our Council may ask why we have not written again to Mr Haynes, Director of Operational Services. Our answer is that we think if we had we would have been wasting our time. Mr Haynes did not seek answers to questions which as a matter course we would have expected him to ask. It surely indicates that once again he is wanting a problem, that in our opinion needs proper addressing, swept under the carpet.
Another alternative would be to take the matter up with the Leader of the Council (a Councillor and NOT an officer) - but would he instruct, have the authority to instruct, or indeed dare to instruct the Director of Operational Services to carry out a proper investigation?
The conduct of the Tunbridge Wells Council Leaders is another tale for another day!
Watch this space!
What was removed from Telephone House, Tunbridge Wells, in February 2002?
The Telephone House Neighbours Association, Tunbridge Wells
The aims are to heighten peoples' awareness and concern for the development on Telephone House site, Church Road/York Road, Tunbridge Wells.