Councils have a duty to ensure that buildings under their control comply with appropriate statutory, regulatory and corporate standards. This task has become increasingly complex, onerous and difficult in the context of various potentially competing drivers including:-

  • An increasing burden of legislative and regulatory duties falling on building occupiers.
  • Delegation of relevant budgets and responsibilities to individual establishments, notably schools but with ultimate accountability still seen as resting with the corporate body of the Council.
  • The consequences of increased delegation which has brought about a significant reduction in resources retained centrally to develop and monitor compliance with relevant standards.
  • Loss of critical mass and control in delivery of property related services through outsourcing, budget reductions and fragmentation of resources.
  • Governance arrangements in establishments are becoming increasingly more complex through the move to Shared Services and Partnering arrangements that do not fit easily with traditional landlord and tenant definitions.

Councils now regularly face challenges in terms of their ability to control and manage what goes on in buildings which they own and which are used by staff or clients for which they have legal responsibility. An example of this is individual schools where there is both the freedom and the financial resources to enable them to procure very significant building projects without calling on the assistance of the Local Education Authority.

In addition to this Councils are faced with a wide range of Health and Safety responsibilities that fall on building occupiers. Even where rigid policies and procedures are set out at corporate level, responsibilities for their implementation are frequently delegated to service managers in individual properties who do not always appreciate the importance of ensuring that regular checks and control measures are carried out and recorded.

We are faced with the situation where day to day responsibility and the majority of available resources are delegated to premises level but with the ultimate accountability remaining at corporate level within the Council. The corporate property officer can ensure that all relevant policies and procedures are in place but is faced with the situation of simply not knowing the level of compliance across the portfolio for which he/she has responsibility. The discovery of non-compliance is often only made as a result of an incident on a particular site, by which time it is too late to do anything about it.

In addition to the direct consequences of any incident, the Council could be faced with damage to its reputation, financial loss, individual officers could be faced with legal proceedings and in the worst case, lives of building users could be lost.

This document highlights the key areas where some sort of compliance monitoring is required, along with some background information. It establishes the status of each area (e.g. statutory, recommended good practice), suggests good practice frequencies and provides links to further information.

CLICK HERE to download the guide provided by forum member trout39843.

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