23rd Mar, 2019

Director of Bromsgrove building company handed suspended sentence after probe finds he carried out 'unsafe' and 'unnecessary' work

Tristan Harris 12th Oct, 2018 Updated: 12th Oct, 2018

THE DIRECTOR of a Bromsgrove building company who pleaded guilty to offences relating to unsafe and unnecessary work being carried out has been given a suspended sentence.

Barrie John Henry Birch admitted an offence under the Fraud Act 2006 and to an offence under the Consumer Protection from unfair Trading Regulations 2008.

It related to unnecessary work carried out at a property in Bromsgrove during June 2016.

He also pleaded guilty to breaching Section 37 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

Birch also asked for five other, similar matters to be taken into consideration including two offences of failing to provide the ten year insurance-backed guarantee.

He was given 12 months imprisonment, suspended for two years, was ordered to do 250 hours of unpaid work and was disqualified from being a company director for five years. He was also ordered to pay compensation to the victims and to make a contribution to the prosecution costs.

Birch’s company BBS Improvements Ltd, Worcester Road, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 6 (3) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 and the company was fined £200.

The prosecution was brought after a joint investigation by Worcestershire Trading Standards Service and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) uncovered a string of health and safety and fraud offences.

Worcester Crown Court heard how Birch, operating under BBS Improvements Ltd, was employed to carry out building work on a domestic property in Redditch in May 2017.

A complaint was made to Trading Standards which enlisted an expert to examine the roof.

He confirmed the work was wholly unnecessary and had no value whatsoever.

During the course of their investigations Trading Standards also uncovered potential health and safety issues.

HSE inspectors found that the company was carrying out work at height without scaffolding and that there were no measures in place to prevent employees from falling.

People were walking on the roof of the house with no safety measures in place to prevent them from falling and Birch was present and fully aware of the people working unsafely on the roof.

At the time the complaint was received Birch was also before the court for similar offences committed while trading as a sole trader under the name BBS Improvements.

The court heard how Mr Birch was employed to carry out minor roofing repair work on a home in Bromsgrove in June 2016.

After inspecting the roof Birch advised the homeowner that the whole roof required replacing.

A Trading Standards investigation, involving an expert examination of the roof found that the work to replace the roof was totally unnecessary.

HSE inspector Matthew Whitaker said: “This prosecution demonstrates how the HSE works in partnership with other enforcers like Trading Standards, to tackle serious crime and dangerous working practices which put people at risk of death and serious injury.

“Falls from height remain one of the most common causes of work related fatalities in this country and the risks associated with working at height are well known.

“In this case, suitable measures such as scaffolding should have been provided to ensure the health and safety of people working at height on the roof.”

Coun Lucy Hodgson, Worcestershire County Council’s cabinet member for communities, said: “The work done by our small team of Trading Standards Officers to protect Worcestershire consumers cannot go unrecognised.

“In this case Barrie Birch was instructed to carry out relatively minor work but then advised the homeowners that major work was needed when it was not.”

“This type of fraudulent activity will not be tolerated in Worcestershire.

“Our Trading Standards Officers actively investigate criminal complaints of rogue builders such as this, and will continue to do so to protect the public.

“The sentence handed down in this case clearly shows that the courts view this type of offending very seriously.”

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