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We are in the process of completing asbestos surveys to our garage stock, and as part of these surveys, samples of any suspected asbestos containing materials are taken and sent to our contractor’s laboratory for testing.

As a precaution we have had to restrict access to a small amount of garages. Signage has been put in place where necessary, which is in line with health and safety guidelines.

If your garage is affected you will be notified so there is no need to contact us.

Garage access

Under no circumstances should you enter your garage until otherwise advised by Stevenage Borough Council.

Items stored in garages

At this time you cannot access stored items within the garage unless absolutely essential and we would only be able to facilitate this if they are sealed within a container or bag. If you need items out of your garage please contact us to make arrangements. Do not access the garage without a council officer present.

Accessing / using your car

If you need your car out of your garage we can facilitate this for you. We have assessed the risk of you using your car, and once we've removed it from the garage it will be safe for you to use. Please contact us to make arrangements.

Alternative garage

We can arrange for you to use an alternative garage for your vehicle until you can access your garage. Contact us to make a request.

Paying your rent

Account will be placed on and Direct Debits set to zero. If you have chosen to have use of an alternative garage then you will need to make weekly payments for it.

Stored items

We are developing plans to ensure we can safely return the garages and the items stored in them back to residents. This will involve an analyst being on site to assess each garage individually to see what items can be cleaned safely and returned, however in some instances it may not be possible to safely return items and we will discuss this with residents at the time. Our removal contractor will take photos and itemise any items that have to be disposed of.

Garages programme of refurbishment

The five year refurbishment programme of garages is a separate project but sites could be brought forward in the programme if it makes financial sense to do so.

Loss / damage to belongings

If you consider your possessions have been damaged as a consequence, then you should see our insurance claims against the council for guidance on what you should do.

Security of your belongings

Your keys will be held at the council offices so your belongings will safe while surveys, tests and works (if required) are being carried out

Work completion

Each garage site will be assessed on an individual basis to determine what work, if any is required; as soon as we have a programme of works we will communicate this with the licensee.

Advising garage licensees

Garages within Stevenage are of several different build types and not all garages are affected. We have a surveying programme in place where certain build types are a priority and should we identify asbestos in any further sites this will be communicated to those garage users.

What we have identified in a few sites is small residual amount of sprayed on insulation which given its age and condition we need to take a more precautionary approach with.

Asbestos is present in some of our stock, however at different risk levels. Where we have identified asbestos and it is deemed necessary, we have taken the precaution of restricting access until remedial works are carried out.

Potential exposure

Small amounts of asbestos have recently been identified in approximately 430 council owned garages. As a precaution you will be aware that we have restricted access to the affected garages.

We have a duty to consider and manage this risk and have received independent advice to assess and understand any possible asbestos exposure to tenants within the garages.

What did we do?

We asked an independent asbestos specialist to undertake tests and analyse the results of these tests to establish if there could have been any exposure to asbestos in the garages.

What tests were carried out?

The specialist advised us that we would need to simulate the typical uses of the garages and then test for any potential exposure to asbestos fibres. These tests involved setting up a trial within some of the garages and performing tasks that you may undertake in the garages.

The three main activities we identified as being typical use for the garages were

  1. Getting in and out of a motor car and driving it in and out of the garage
  2. Moving stored items into, out of and around the garages and sifting through bags and boxes etc.
  3. Brushing cobwebs from the roof and walls and sweeping the floor of the garage.

While these simulated tests were being undertaken the air within the garages was being passed through a filter to collect any asbestos fibres that may have been disturbed while doing these tasks. Analysis of the air samples were then conducted using Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM). This process can identify very small fibres and helps to provide an understanding of any exposure.

Test 3 has not been able to be carried out currently, as there is a need to agree the process for this in the context of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012, and we are continuing to explore how this might be able to be undertaken, in liaison with the Health & Safety Executive.

Who carried out the tests?

The tests were carried out by a licensed asbestos removal company and a specialist asbestos testing company.

What was the outcome?

Once the simulated tests as described in 1 and 2 above were completed, the asbestos specialist assessed this together with historical exposure information to calculate the exposure risk.

These calculations could then be multiplied to reflect the duration of time spent in the garage and also multiply this over days and years that any activity would have been undertaken.

The calculations can be assessed to achieve an estimated level of the risk of any harm to residents that have used the garage.

The table below shows the different activities and the estimated frequencies that will be typical for these and the level of risk that the independent asbestos specialist has assessed the exposure to be.

Activities, estimated frequencies and level of risk

Activity Frequency /  year / days Duration (Minutes per day) Total hours / year Exposure risk level
Driving car in and out Daily 10 minutes 60.96 Insignificant
Driving car in and out Every other day 10 minutes 30.06 Insignificant
Driving car in and out Weekly 10 minutes 8.68 Insignificant
Moving stored items 200 day in a year 30 minutes 100.00 Very Low
Moving stored items Weekly 30 minutes 26.00 Very Low
Sweeping cobwebs and floor Monthly 10 minutes 2.00 Very Low - Low
Sweeping cobwebs and floor Twice a year 10 minutes 0.33 Very Low

The specialist has assessed the potential exposure to anyone using the garages as likely to be ‘insignificant’ to ‘low risk’.

Does this mean I can now use my garage?

Unfortunately, even though the risks are low, we are currently unable to allow the use of the garages. This is because we have a duty to restrict access to areas that we know contain this type of asbestos material in its current condition.

What is being done now?

We are currently assessing the options for how we can proceed with the garages.

Where possible we have relocated garage tenants to other garages, and if you would like to explore this option please contact the garages team (details below).

We will update you when we have some more information and we thank you for your continued patience.

If you have any further questions please contact the Garages team.

Garage Management Services

Stevenage Borough Council
Daneshill House
Danestrete
Stevenage
Herts

garages@stevenage.gov.uk

01438 242242