Agenda item

Chairman's Announcements

To receive any announcements the Chairman may wish to make.


The Chairman welcomed newly appointed members to the Panel.

The Chairman informed Members of the County Council’s responses to enquiries from Government and any implications for the Council estate following the devastating fire at Grenfell Tower in London.

The Chairman, and Members of the Panel, expressed their sympathies to the victims and families of the tragic event and congratulated the emergency services for their response. 

It was announced that the County Council had recently responded to urgent enquiries from Government Departments in relation to both residential towers and school buildings.  Firstly, to confirm that Hampshire had no residential buildings over six storeys and, therefore, no actions was required.  Members were aware that the County Council was not a housing authority and, therefore, had no residential properties of the type impacted by the fire in London. 

The Chairman noted that the schools estate in Hampshire had a small number of three and four storey buildings but that there were no parallels to the construction and fire safety arrangements at Grenfell Tower.  It was reported that the strategy for life safety in schools was to evacuate first and all multi-storey buildings were fitted with modern fire alarms to facilitate this.  Members noted that local managers had responsibility for fire evacuation and were encouraged to undertake regular fire safety drills.  The Chairman also confirmed that the ongoing re-cladding programmes at schools did not use Aluminium Composite Materials (ACM) which was the subject of much speculation in the media and had initiated the requirement for local authorities to survey residential towers in their ownership. 

The Chairman also took the opportunity to remind Members of the comprehensive approach the County Council adopts towards to fire safety in its buildings and noted that:

·         The Council understands the risk profiles of our buildings and actively audit our estate on a prioritised basis.

·         The Council has a long-standing Partnership with Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service (HFRS) and both organisations jointly fund an Embedded Fire Officer who is co-located in the Property Team. 

·         The Council provide fire safety guidance to all local managers including schools and proactively support them in fire safety arrangements.

·         All projects are independently reviewed by an experienced panel of officers, including representation from HFRS to ensure compliance with Regulations and best practice.

·         All projects have a Fire Risk Assessment undertaken to decide whether additional safety measures should be implemented and if sprinklers are recommended for additional asset protection. 


The Chairman noted that, notwithstanding the County Council’s strong record of managing fire safety, it was recognised that the events in London had served as a reminder of the potential devastating impact of fire in buildings.  It was intended that officers would continue to monitor the findings of the Grenfell Tower Enquiry as they became publicly available and would ensure that if there were any actions or implications for the Council, that these would be evaluated and any recommendations for improvement made.

The Chairman was pleased to announce that the new Mill Chase Secondary School building had received planning permission. The school was intended to provide modern, high quality education facilities to support the regeneration of the town. The Panel heard that the County Council had made a contribution of £10 million towards the £30 million project.

Members welcomed the news that the Bordon Future Skills Centre had recently completed on site. The project was intended to provide 200 full time equivalent places for students learning construction skills and was planned to be managed by Basingstoke College of Technology. The Chairman noted that the role of the County Council had been to design and manage operation of the facility and had contributed £250,000 alongside the main Enterprise M3 LEP funding.

The Chairman was pleased to announce that Property Services had achieved nine winner awards and five commendations throughout 2016/17. Awards that had been received since the last meeting of the Panel were:

·         Winchester Cathedral Education Centre had received a Commendation in the National Civic Trust Awards 2017. 

·         The CEMAST (Centre for Engineering, Manufacturing and Advanced Skills Training) had picked up the Best New Build Non-Residential Award in the 2016 Fareham Society Design Competition.

·         The Hampshire Property Team had received an Award for Joint Working from Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service for their role to transform the Eastleigh HQ building into an innovative facility for both our Police and Fire Services.

·         Park Community School in Havant was Highly Commended by the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England Awards in the Sustainable Building Category.

·         CIVITAS Academy, designed and managed by Hampshire Property Services for Reading Borough Council, was the RICS Regional Award Winner for Regeneration and has gone forward to the National Finals.