LABC welcomes prosecution of Oldham building collapse developer

The Local Authority Building Control (LABC) has welcomed the prosecution in Manchester Crown Court of an Oldham-based property developer whose project saw the complete collapse of the roof and the injury to one person.

Riaz Ahmad employed builders with no experience and who demolished almost every internal wall and support before an Oldham Council building surveyor informed the HSE and served a Prohibition Notice.

Following the HSE inspection it was agreed that emergency demolition was needed and the council obtained a demolition order – but the roof and rear of the building collapsed before it could be demolished safely.

Through cooperation between Oldham Council, Greater Manchester Police and the Fire Service the site was made safe through an emergency demolition of what remained of the building. But this caused considerable disruption to neighbouring residents and businesses who had to be temporarily evacuated.

Mr Ahmad was jailed for eight months and ordered to pay £65,000 in costs.

Commenting, Lorna Stimpson, LABC’s deputy managing director, said, “This prosecution was well deserved and came about through cooperation between local building control, emergency services and the HSE – exactly the type of joint working envisaged by Dame Judith Hackitt in the proposed JCA.

“And because the HSE were involved, the case could be tried at the high court with real teeth in terms of sentencing and cost recovery. This is something LABC have been campaigning on for years – when dangerous building work is prosecuted in Magistrate’s Courts through the building acts the court simply does not have the powers to either punish the culprits sufficiently or recover the costs of the local authority.

“Our research has shown that Magistrates award costs that are typically 16 times less than the costs of prosecution and fine offenders just over £5,000 on average – much less than the offender usually gains by breaking the rules. In future, building standards must have power to prosecute offenders in the knowledge their costs will be recovered, and the offender will receive a punishment – like in this case – that provides a real deterrent not to ignore building safety regulations.”