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Another Year over 43rd LABSS Annual General Meeting and Conference - Peebles Hydro - 17th May 2019

The LABSS 43rd AGM and Conference was held on 17th May 2019 at Peebles Hydro, Peebles in the Scottish Borders. The event was attended by 23 out of the 32 Local Authorities in Scotland and we also welcomed Guests from Industry and the Building Standards Division

The Outgoing Chair James Whiteford welcomed everyone and commenced with the Business part to the AGM

Apologies and Intimations were read out and the Minutes from the 2018 AGM agreed, the financial report was given by Mike Millar – Finance Convener, followed by the Executive nominations and proposed changes to the LABSS Constitution.

Executive Nominations

During proceedings of the AGM the following Executive and Non-Executive positions were elected and agreed;

The Executive for 2019-2020 is;

Chair – Scott Mackenzie (North Ayrshire Council)

Vice Chair – Grant Tierney (Aberdeen City Council)

Strategy Director – Neil Mitchell (Fife Council)

Finance Director – Mike Millar (Angus Council)

Business Support and Communications Director – Pamela Clark (Aberdeenshire Council)

Non-Executive Nominations

Junior Vice Chair – John Paul Breslin (Stirling Council)

Business Director – David Aitken (Dundee City Council)

Training Director & Past Chair – James Whiteford (Scottish Borders Council)

Assistant Business Support and Communications Director – Eileen McCutcheon (Glasgow City Council)

Performance Director – John Delamar (Midlothian Council)

Technical Director – Alan McAuley (South Lanarkshire)

From Left to Right, Dave Aitken – Dundee City Council – Business Director, Eileen McCutcheon – Glasgow City Council - Assistant Business Support and Communications Director, John Paul Breslin – Stirling Council – Junior Vice Chair, Mike Millar  - Angus Council – Finance Director, Scott Mackenzie – South Ayrshire Council – Chair of LABSS, James Whiteford – Scottish Borders Council – Past Chair and Training Director, Grant Tierney – Aberdeen City Council – Vice Chair, Pamela Clark – Aberdeenshire Council - Business Support and Communications Director, Bob Renton – Honorary President, LABSS Consultant and STAS Administrator, Neil Mitchell – Fife Council – Strategy Director


Before the Conference started LABSS for the first time held a raffle to raise money for a charity chosen by the outgoing Chair James Whiteford

There were various Raffle prizes two of which were donated out with the LABSS executive

Bellway Homes – Donated a £200 gift voucher for John Lewis

Peebles Hydro – Donated a Gin Experience

LABSS would like to thank everyone for their donations.

Current Chair has chosen - The Difference - Margaret Kerr Unit

The Difference is NHS Borders official charity.  It supports patients in the Borders by providing 'added extras' that are over and above that which is provided by the NHS.

Their Mission

The difference exists to enhance patient care in the Scottish Borders. We work in close partnership with healthcare professionals across the full spectrum of hospital and community activity to identify projects that will help local doctors, nurses and other clinicians enhance the care which they provide. 

‘the difference’ is the official known as name for ‘Borders Health Board Endowment Funds’.  There is a fund for each of the wards, hospitals, services and many departments across NHS Borders.  They are registered with OSCR under the registered charity number SC008225.

Here are some of the ways that your donations will make the difference for patients in the Borders.

  • Specialist equipment for the Special Care Baby Unit
  • Toys, games and DVDs for the Children's Ward
  • Music therapy equipment - we were able to apply for a grant to provide new equipment for our music therapist
  • Exercise equipment for dialysis patients
  • Tea, coffee and hot chocolate for patients and relatives in the Margaret Kerr Unit and Macmillan Cancer Centre
  • Playlist for Life - donations have purchased iPods for people with dementia in Melburn Lodge
  • Specialist equipment for the Maternity Unit

Once all donations have been collected we will advise of the final total submitted to the Charity.


The guest’s speakers at this year’s event were excellent providing very informative presentations.

Steven Kelso – CALA Homes provided and overview of the Scottish Type Approval Scheme (STAS) from the Applicants Perspective

Bob Renton – STAS Administrator an overview of the Scottish Type Approval Scheme (STAS) from the Administrators Perspective

Craig Ogg – Falkirk Council an overview of the Scottish Type Approval Scheme (STAS) from the Verifiers Perspective


Lunch break due to the location and weather on the day was very nice and allowed LABSS to get some good photographs on the day.

After lunch our speaker was Dr Paul Stollard

Dr Paul Stollard – The wider area of Dr Paul Stollard’s career touching on his role within the recent ministerial working group.

Links to the relevant document and Videos will be made available soon.

LABSS Awards

This year nominations were received for the following awards;

The James Delury Award for Individual Service Commitment

This award recognises an individual’s performance and their commitment to the service. How they have impressed and made a difference in their area over the past twelve months. What makes them outstanding is their willingness to go well beyond their normal job requirements to deliver ‘outstanding’ service to the public. The individual will demonstrate:

  • Excellent levels of performance
  • Display a positive impression - ‘can do’ attitude
  • Positive attributes of an exemplary role model

The 2019 Award recognised

Graeme Arthur – Building Standards Team Leader – Inverclyde Council being presented his Award by Dr Paul Stollard – 17.05.19

The Customer Focus Award

This award recognises teams which have taken steps to improve customer focus and the standard of customer service. Your nomination should provide an insight into the needs of your customers and to see evidence of the impact you have made, including measures of customer satisfaction. The team which wins this award will have shown that they are:

  • Focused on the needs of the customer
  • Prepared to change the way they do things
  • Committed to achieving high standards of customer service

The 2019 Award recognised

Midlothian Council Building Standards team was recognised as having taken steps to improve customer focus and the standard of customer service. The team provided an insight into the needs of their customers and provided evidence of the impact it has made, including measures of customer satisfaction. The team showed that they are:

  • Focused on the needs of the customer – achievement of a consistent 91% to 92% customer satisfaction rating
  • Prepared to change the way they do things – a demonstration of improvements arising from customer needs
  • Committed to achieving high standards of customer service – achieved a rise in CSE Compliance pluses form 4 in 2014-15 to 26 in 2018-19

This team has been instrumental in providing a transparent; accountable, customer oriented professional service to the benefit of their service users.


David Ralston receiving the award on behalf of Midlothian Council from Dr Paul Stollard

LABSS Presented an additional award this year which came as a surprise to the recipient as this was a decision by the executive. This award was titled

The Outstanding Lifetime Achievement Award

The executive’s decision was easy on who this would be. The Outstanding Lifetime achievement award was presented to Bob Renton for his contribution over many years to SACBCO, SABSM, LABSS and Building Standards.


Bob Renton (Left) Mervyn Toshner (Middle) John Murdoch (Right)


Bob Renton being presented the Outstanding Lifetime Achievement Award by John Murdoch

Bob Renton – Consultant to LABSS STAS Administrator and LABSS Honorary President

BSD Awards

Building Standards Division (BSD) were delighted to be invited to attend the 2019 Local Authority Building Standards Scotland (LABSS) AGM, and to present a number of awards.

National Building Standards Performance Excellence Awards

The annual National Building Standards Performance Excellence awards recognise excellent performance against the verification performance framework for local authorities.

The three National Building Standards Performance Excellence awards were presented to the following worthy winners.

Small Verifier

up to 1,000 applications

This was awarded to Orkney Island Council

Jack Leslie – Orkney Council being present the award by Stephen Garvin BSD

Medium Verifier

1,001 - 2,000 applications

The winner of Medium Verifier was awarded to West Lothian Council

Jim McGinley – West Lothian Council being present their award by Stephen Garvin BSD

Large Verifier

2,001 and greater

The winner of large verifier was awarded to Fife Council

Fife Council being present their award by Stephen Garvin

From left to right, Neil Mitchell – Fife Council, Stephen Garvin – BSD, Scott Davidson – Fife Council, Gary Nicoll – Fife Council

Building Standards Community and Building Safety Award

A new Building Standards Community and Building Safety award was presented to celebrate the contribution made by building standards professionals to protecting communities through better building safety.

All of the entries were of a very high standard so all participants should be commended.

Delighted to say that the winner of this inaugural award was Aberdeen City as they demonstrated strong community engagement and enforcement relating to the replacing of Fire Doors.

Grant Tierney – Aberdeen City Council being presented the Award by Stephen Garvin BSD

We were also pleased to present four finalist awards to Angus, Perth & Kinross, South Ayrshire, and Stirling.

All entrants for the Building Safety Award being recognised with the overall winner being Aberdeen City Council.

The importance of building safety is recognised throughout the world, and we intend to use the award to emphasise the importance of working collaboratively with international partners, including those within the Inter-jurisdictional Regulatory Collaboration Committee (IRCC) community.

Closing Remarks

James Whiteford Outgoing Chair reflected on his time as Chair of LABSS

When agreeing to take on the role of LABSS chair last year, James noted whilst the year ahead had appeared to be daunting task, the time in post was a very quick and enjoyable experience, also stating ‘being Chair has provided the opportunity to be involved in so much more than would have otherwise been possible’. James confirmed that what LABSS has done over the past year only confirms the value the organisation has to the wider Building Standards and built environment community.

James covered what he felt there were two main influences for LABSS work over the past year. The first being the work done on resource, training and competency and the second being the ‘Review on Compliance and Enforcement’ leading into potential changes in the Building Standards System. James noted that both these influences were linked and any improvements to the Building Standards system cannot happen without a suitably trained and resourced workforce.

James also highlighted that LABSS ‘Fees Research Paper’ concluded that, at a National level, Building Warrant fee income was not being re-invested in the Building Standards Service in many areas and the national picture was that whilst fee income had increased, service performance was decreasing.

To help readdress these issues James reflected upon the work LABSS, in conjunction with other stakeholders, has done, especially regarding the development work for the introduction of a Graduate Level Apprenticeship in Building Standards. In conjunction with this, progress in relation to drafting a Building Standards competency framework was also referenced.

Following the Scottish Governments Review of Fire Safety, Compliance and Enforcement, James confirmed LABSS representation on the ‘Compliance and Enforcement Review’ working group which will see changes to the Procedural Handbook, amendment to warrant and temporary occupation application forms later in the year. LABSS representation on the ‘Futures Board’ was also confirmed, which will look at the longer-term outcomes from the review.

The outgoing chair also gave an overview of the ‘business as usual’ work which has also continued over the past year in relation to STAS, Registered Details, updating STAS Membership and application fees, liaison with LABC, BSD and other key stakeholders.

James ended his outgoing speech by giving thanks to all the existing and new management team as well the wider LABSS community and membership, with a special thanks to those who had travelled to the Scottish Borders to make it an enjoyable Annual General Meeting and Conference.


The Incoming Chair Scott Mackenzie spoke about looking to the future

Scott McKenzie thanked James Whiteford for his nomination for the post of Chair of LABSS. This is the 2nd time Scott has held this post and intimated that he is very much looking forward to working with the executive team and the members of the association in the forthcoming year. Scott also thanked and congratulated James on a successful year in office and acknowledged the tremendous amount of work that James and the team had put in.

Scott intimated that the hard work would continue over the next year and that the majority of LABSS works would be framed around the requirements of the Futures Board and the associated working groups and workstreams. During the forthcoming year LABSS would also: -

  • Continue our close engagement with LABC during their journey on what could be significant changes in England and Wales.
  • Re-engage with our fellow member of CEBC
  • Continue to work with colleagues in England, Wales and Northern Ireland to form an umbrella group to represent Building Standards in the UK

Scott praised the work of the team in relation to STAS and indicated that it was pleasing to hear from the previous speakers about the positive impact scheme and that work to enhance, develop and support STAS would continue.

The hard work of creating a more inclusive organisation was then acknowledged, as attendance at meetings was now open to those who would previously not have had an opportunity to contribute. The observation however has been that fewer managers and senior staff now attend meetings. Scott requested that manager and senior staff also attend meetings, especially where there are agenda items and speaks which directly address the strategic and tactical operations of our Local Authorities.

Scott then thanked James and the team, particularly Pamela Clark, for organising such an excellent AGM, thanked everyone for attending and noted that he was looking forward to working with everyone through the next year.

James Whiteford closed the AGM and thanked all for attending.


LABSS Executive and Members would like to thank all the Staff at Peebles Hydro for having us and assisting us in making the 43rd LABSS AGM and Conference a success.

LABSS look forward to meeting you all again and hopefully some new faces at the LABSS AGM and Conference in May 2020 – Date and location yet to be confirmed.