It’s time for prosecutions

Alok Sharma MP
Alok Sharma MP

By Colin Torley, sales and operations director of the Saveheat Group.

I make no apology for sending further correspondence highlighting the issue of companies using low sightline double glazed units (heritage glass).

Some unscrupulous companies have been making fortunes at the expense of consumers while bona fide companies have lost out on orders by staying within the law.

The following Q&A from Westminster clarifies the situation.

Question (September 5, 2017): To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, what steps his Department takes to ensure that the sale and installation of narrow-cavity, low-sightline glass-sealed units into heritage windows is compliant with the Construction Products Regulations 2013. (8493)

Answer (Alok Sharma MP): “These units are covered by a harmonised European product standard (EN 1279-5) and so the Construction Products Regulation (EU 305/2011) applies to their manufacture, import and distribution. This regulation sets requirements for placing construction products onto the market, not their installation.

“Monitoring compliance and enforcement duties fall to trading standards bodies in England, Scotland and Wales and District Councils in Northern Ireland.”
The answer was submitted on September 13, 2017. It’s pretty clear isn’t it?

A breach of the Construction Product Regulations can result in a three-month custodial sentence and/or a fine not exceeding level 5 on the Criminal Justice Act scale.

For the avoidance of doubt, placing the product onto the market without the correct test evidence and corresponding system description is an offence.

The unit manufacturers that are breaking the law are also passing off test reports for standard sightline units which is tantamount to fraud. Company directors from Cheshire and Liverpool were recently handed two-year suspended prison sentences, community service, and hefty fines for similar offences.

We have written to government asking for details of who we contact to report the failure of Trading Standards to enforce the Construction Products Regulations. We have advised that all they need to do is Google ‘low sight line double glazing’ where they will find a list of companies who are openly placing non-compliant products on the market by offering them for sale.

Some are even showing cross sectional drawings of IGUs with sightlines of 5mm. Surely all that Trading Standards Officers have to do is go round and charge them. How much more simple can this be?

In the same vein as the banks are now having to pay back money they took unfairly from consumers through PPI, the firms fitting them should be held accountable for replacing these defective windows containing non-compliant units in consumers’ properties.

The number of public servants complicit in this situation is also alarming. Our company has spent the last three years holding meetings with officers at Historic Environment Scotland and several Scottish councils over why they continue to issue guidance and specifications that can only be satisfied by breaching the Construction Product Regulations.

The matter has also been reported to Trading Standards.

Despite all this, nothing has been done and the problem has escalated. We have now demanded a public enquiry into the matter.

We see non-compliant cladding panels being removed everywhere – it’s about time we see the non-compliant glazing panels start to be removed too.

It’s time for our industry and Trading Standards to stand up and do something about it. We certainly are but we need more support. We would encourage all companies who also have this problem to take it up with their local trading standards and keep the pressure on.