Publication - Minutes

Building and fire safety working group minutes: October 2019

Published: 22 Oct 2019
Date of meeting: 3 Oct 2019
Date of next meeting: 30 Apr 2020
Location: St Andrew's House, Edinburgh

Minutes of the meeting of the ministerial working group on building and fire safety that took place on 3 October 2019.

Published:
22 Oct 2019
Building and fire safety working group minutes: October 2019

Attendees and apologies

Attendees: 

  • Minister for Local Government, Housing and Planning (Chair)
  • Minister for Community Safety
  • Stephen Garvin, Head of Building Standards Division
  • Wendy Wilkinson, Deputy Director Safer Communities Division
  • David Signorini, Head of Better Homes Division
  • Stephen Garland, Better Homes Division
  • Chris Getty, SFRS Group Commander, Head of Fire Safety Enforcement 
  • Brian McKenzie, HM Fire Service Inspectorate
  • Alan Morrison, Health Finance Division
  • Connie Smith, Safer Communities Division 
  • Tom Steele, Greater Glasgow & Clyde Health Board
  • Bill Connolly, Health Facilities Scotland
  • Shona Harper, Building Standards Division
  • William Hamilton, Building Standards Division

Apologies:

  • Stephen Gallagher, Director Local Government & Communities
  • Shirley Laing, Director for Housing and Social Justice
  • Simon Routh-Jones, HM Fire Service Inspectorate
  • Ross Haggart, SFRS Assistant Chief Officer
  • Stephen Wood, SFRS Area Manager
  • Tom Hardy, Safer Communities Division
  • Scott Bell, Head of Procurement Development and Construction Review Division

Items and actions

Welcome and action points from previous meeting

It was noted that the Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Local Government had asked that the Minister for Local Government, Housing and Planning to now lead the Ministerial Working Group (MWG) and will only attend if there is a specific need for her to do so.

It was noted that the minutes of the previous MWG meeting held on Thursday 25 April were agreed and published.

Update on previously agreed action points:

  • consideration to be given by construction procurement colleagues on how to disseminate information/ best practice in addition to the issuing of the Construction Procurement Notes. Completed
  • SG officials to prepare a letter regarding consultation (entitled Strengthening Fire Safety For High-Rise Domestic Buildings) for issue to MSPs with domestic high-rise buildings within their constituency. Completed – issued on 10 May
  • SG officials to ensure programme of engagement events also covers North and South Lanarkshire. Completed – discussed further at agenda item 5
  • letters to be drafted to provide an update on the work being undertaken in Scotland for the UK and Welsh Governments and Dame Judith Hackitt. Completed – issued on 7 May 2019
  • copies of the Futures Board papers to be shared with Minister in advance of the meeting. Completed

Futures board – update 

It was noted that on the 1 October 2019, the new building fire safety regulations, which will make Scotland’s high-rise buildings even safer, came into force. Coinciding with this at the end of September, the procedural handbook had also been updated and published following recommendations from the Review Panel on Compliance and Enforcement in Building Standards.

It was noted that the Futures Board had now met on three occasions, taking forward seven different work-streams within building standards. The next meeting is scheduled for December 2019 with further meetings to take place regularly during 2020. It is envisaged that the programme of work for the Board during 2020 will focus on implementing changes identified during the earlier development work carried out in 2019.

Inventory of high-rise domestic buildings and high pressure laminate cladding - update

Officials provided an update on the Inventory of High-rise Domestic Buildings. The update flagged that although the inventory initially intended to close on the 31 August 2019, Glasgow City Council continues to liaise with Registered Social Landlords (RSLs) to validate information and this should now be completed by the end of October 2019. This means that figures produced and shared to the group were only provisional until all information was complete.    

AP1 - SG officials to prepare a letter for the Minister to send to the Chief Executive of Glasgow City Council seeking confirmation that the data return will be completed by 31 October 2019.

AP2 – SG Officials to produce a report setting out issues faced when undertaking data collection for the high-rise inventory. 

Officials provided an update to the group on high pressure laminate (HPL) cladding following a full-scale fire test commissioned by the UK Government on the advice of its expert panel and the advice issued following this test.  

The group discussed the planned data collection exercise for HPL cladding systems on all high-rise domestic buildings, other high-rise residential buildings and other high-risk buildings in Scotland. 

AP3 - SG officials to prepare spreadsheet to issue for data collection.

New requirements of mortgage lenders regarding cladding on high-rise domestic buildings

It has emerged that mortgage lenders are requiring sellers of flats, or prospective borrowers to provide assurance on the type of cladding on their building. It was noted that this appeared to be a UK-wide issue and is causing significant difficulties for people looking to buy, sell or re-mortgage their flats.

Officials advised the Group that as mortgage lending was a reserved matter, discussions were ongoing with UK Government officials on the matter as well as with UK Finance. It was noted that the chair of the group was to speak at a UK Finance event that evening and would make reference to the issue to highlight the seriousness of it and the importance of a quick resolution. 

AP3 – SG Officials to prepare a letter for the Minister for Local Government, Housing and Planning to send to his counterpart in the UK Government on this matter, pressing for a swift resolution.  

Fire safety regime review - update

Officials updated the group on the implementation of recommendations to come from the Fire Safety Regime Review.  It was noted that SG communications and SFRS had advised against doing any campaign around the new guidance for fire safety for residents in high-rise buildings until January/February 2020 so as to not distract from fireworks and white goods campaigns being taken forward by SFRS up to the end of the year.  

Ministers agreed that any campaign should take place at the start of the new year but that the new guidance and leaflets, once completed should issue before the end of the year. To promote during this time, the new guidance could be flagged through other channels like that of resident/tenant groups and MSPs.

It was also noted that guidance on fire safety in specialised housing was currently out to consultation, due to end on the 22 October 2019. While it is hoped that guidance will be completed and published this calendar year if the consultation generates numerous and/or complex responses this may be pushed to early 2020.

AP4 – SG officials to prepare letters for issue by the Minister for Community Safety to MSPs to highlight new guidance for fire safety for residents in high-rise buildings and ask to bring to attention of their constituents once issued.

AP5 – SG officials to liaise with tenant/resident groups to highlight the new guidance on fire safety for residents in high-rise buildings and to add to meeting agendas once issued.

MWG programme of work – update 

UK liaison update

Officials advised that regular contact continues with counterparts in the UK Government and other devolved nations. Although regular contact continues with counterparts, advance warning of any announcements by the UK Government is still limited.

Emerging issues

Officials updated Ministers on a situation where there may be aluminium composite material cladding on part of a high-rise domestic building. Testing is required to determine if this is the case and the results are awaited. In a second case a social-housing landlord had identified potential fire safety issues on two of its high-rise properties.

SG officials are liaising with Glasgow City Council building standards officials on these two matters and will keep Ministers apprised as information becomes available.   

NHS update

Work to replace ACM cladding on the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital was completed at the end of July 2019.  No follow-up action now required.

AOB and date of future meetings

The MWG agreed the next meeting would be scheduled for the 30 April 2020.

Contact

Email: BFSResponse@gov.scot

Phone: 0300 244 4000 – Central Enquiry Unit

The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House
Regent Road
Edinburgh
EH1 3DG 

Building and fire safety working group