Open Letter to the Western
I'm writing to express my concern at the story on
page 57 regarding "Asbestos risk". I have copied
this to all Trustees and the county council officers
handling this building project.
Having worked for twenty years in a local newspaper,
it is clear that this story was very unbalanced in
it's reporting of what was said at the meeting where
some councillors presented many facts about the Hall
demonstrating there is an almost insignificant risk
of asbestos. None of those facts presented were
reported - only the "concerns" of the town clerk.
Phrases such as "danger to people" "poses a risk"
and "staff put at risk" were readily reprinted from
the Town Clerk's report which was only conjecture,
while hard facts about the Pater Hall were not
considered worth reporting.
Sadly this report now may cause concern to some
users of the hall when there is no real cause
for that concern.
Let me present the facts
which were said at the meeting but totally ignored
by your reporter in what I consider to be a very
Cllr Pam George, seven times mayor and the senior
councillor spoke of how no-one is more concerned
about asbestos than her, as her husband had died of
asbestosis. Cllr George considered the hall is
minimal risk due to:
A) The Council had replaced the roof completely
around fifteen years ago , thereby removing what is
often thought of as an area of possible risk.
B) The council had appointed a
specialist asbestos removal company
around about the same time
to remove asbestos ( mainly from
the cellar area).
C) Cllr Phil Gwyther then told of the previous town
clerk Mr Ian Jones who last week told him about
presenting a report to council shortly after he
took over (possibly 7/8 years ago). He
had consulted with the previous town clerk in charge
when the specialist company removed the asbestos and
the long standing caretaker who knows the building
inside out. That report concluded there was
no asbestos to be found apart from an insignificant
amount in the cellar (thought to
be the end of the flu pipe which is sealed off
The council noted the report and decided nothing
needed to be done.
D) Extensive building work took place some 3/4
years ago at the Southern end of the building.
No asbestos was found during this work.
E) The architects have said they do not
expect to find any asbestos
during the work to start shortly.
I doubt whether they would be able to
professionally state this
categorically in writing. Common
sense should tell people that.
F) The builders and the architects all have
strict asbestos policies and
trained workers and in the unlikely event of finding
any trace of asbestos this will be
managed properly in accordance with strict
guidelines on reporting and safe
Had these six statements of
fact been fairly reported and
balanced properly against the town clerk's
perceived concerns, readers would surely have come
to the conclusion that there is an
insignificant risk which is being properly managed.
It seems you have followed the old joke of never
letting the facts get in the way of a good story but
I hope you are prepared in some way to present these
facts to your readers next week. Unfair
confusion may well be in evidence amongst users.
Town Councillor and Pater Hall Trustee