Response from Peter Collingwood, Inspector, Health and Safety Executive (South and South East) - 4 September 2002

Health & Safety Executive
East and South East Division HM Principal Inspector: Dave Rothety

Our Ref: PCC/030220831
Date: 04 September 2002

Telephone House Neighbours Association
37 Church Road

Dear Ms Quinnell,


SITE: Telephone House, Church Rd, Tunbridge Wells

Thank you for letter of the 1st September concerning the redevelopment of the Telephone House site.

The above enforcing authority regulations set out who the enforcing authority is for individual premises and businesses; Telephone House when it was an office building would fall to the local authority (Tunbridge Wells Borough Council) for enforcement of health and safety legislation. However, any construction work that the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 1994 (these regulations can be viewed on the HMSO website as detailed below) apply to would fall to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) for enforcement purposes - this would include demolition of the existing building and construction of any new buildings.

In your letter you have said that residents witnessed work taking place at Telephone House but you have given no indication about the type of work; as far as we are aware no construction work that would fall to HSE for enforcement purposes was taking place during this period. I can only speak for HSE, but we are not intending to carry out an investigation into the work activities that were taking place during February 2002. However, I have spoken to John Haynes (TWBC) and he informed me that they will be looking into this matter and will let you know the outcome of any investigation that they undertake.

In your letter to TWBC (dated 1/9/02) you have asked about the removal of hazardous materials from Telephone House, it is my understanding that you are asking about asbestos building materials, as these are the most likely hazardous materials that can be found in buildings of this type and age. The Asbestos Licensing Regulations requires people who carry out work with asbestos insulation board, sprayed asbestos and asbestos insulation to be licensed by HSE (there are a few very minor exemptions to this). Contractors who do not hold a license to work with asbestos can still work with asbestos cement products. However, a contractor who does not hold a license would be committing a criminal offence to remove asbestos materials from a building if the type of work required them to hold a license. Please see the enclosed copy of part of the Asbestos (Licensing) Regulations and guidance; I would also refer you to the Asbestos (Licensing) (Amendment) Regulations 1999 that brought work with asbestos insulation board within the scope of these regulations - the latter regulations can also be viewed on the HMSO website.

I have been provided with a copy of an asbestos survey for Telephone House that relates to a survey that was carried out on 16th May 2002 by a contractor that was licensed by HSE. This report details asbestos materials that were found in the boiler room of the building. A notification was then received by HSE, as required, notifying us of their intention to remove these asbestos materials between the 29th July and 1st August 2002.

Yours sincerely

Peter Collingwood
H.M. Inspector of Health and Safety

Encs. Pages 1-14 L11 c.c. TWBC

What was removed from Telephone House, Tunbridge Wells, in February 2002