Commenting on claims by Paul Wilkins of the Association of Consultant Approved Inspectors (ACAI) that Dame Judith Hackitt in her report into the Building Regulations and fire safety got the role of Approved Inspectors wrong, LABC Chief Executive Paul Everall said, “Well, he would say that, given his organisation is one of a just a handful to oppose Dame Judith’s recommendations in full. And all of these are either Approved Inspectors themselves or organisations such as his that represent them.
“Dame Judith was absolutely clear; “What is described in this report is an integrated systemic change not a shopping list of changes which can be picked out on a selective basis.” A view supported by most of the key players in the construction and fire safety industry.
“Dame Judith recognised the need for a complete culture shift and that competition in regulation had led to a race to the bottom where it is possible to choose the least amount of regulation at the least cost. The ACAI’s solution is to keep that competition in place – which is exactly the opposite of what Dame Judith is trying to achieve.
“Paul Wilkins also raises a straw man argument – ‘There are many other industries where the private sector is incorporated into the regulatory system, including automotive (MOTs), aviation Airworthiness Checking’ – what he fails to say is that these industries have a single regulator with real teeth – the Driver and Vehicle Licencing Authority and the Civil Aviation Authority respectively.
“Carrying on with a dual system with competition between regulatory bodies as the ACAI envisage would be a betrayal of the Hackitt principles and not represent the change that is so desperately needed. It would continue the systemic fault in our industry where commercially compromised regulation sees safety margins engineered out and corners cut.
“More than 14 months on from the tragedy that hit the residents of Grenfell Tower some people are still playing by the old rules. It’s time for the ACAI to acknowledge the new reality – and stop defending the indefensible old system. We need change in the industry and we need it now.”
LABC analysis of 35 industry responses to the Hackitt review show just eight oppose her recommendations – all either Approved Inspectors (AIs) or organisations representing AIs. The vast majority of the construction industry – from all disciplines – support the recommendations of Dame Judith Hackitt:
National Fire Chiefs Council: “The NFCC welcome the intention to standardise how buildings and subsequent building work is signed off through Local Authority Building Control and the regulator, ending the practice of contractors and designers choosing their own regulator.”
Institution of Civil Engineers: “The new regulatory framework, as overseen by the Joint Competent Authority, will be key to ensuring the ongoing success of these changes.”
Building Research Establishment: “In particular, we are very supportive of a new regulatory framework focused, in the first instance, on higher risk residential buildings 10 storeys or more in height and a new Joint Competent Authority (JCA) to oversee this.”
Royal Institute of British Architects “The RIBA very much welcomes a number of the Review’s findings, including the proposal to establish a Joint Competent Authority (JCA)…”
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