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Key appointments unveiled for Building Safety Competence Foundation

15 April 2024

TWO KEY appointments have been announced by the Building Safety Competence Foundation (BSCF), the Community Interest Company set up by Local Authority Building Control (LABC) in 2021 as a public interest organisation to provide a range of services for the construction industry. Graham Watts OBE has been appointed chair, while Neil Gibbins QFSM joins the Board of Directors.

CEO of the Construction Industry Council (CIC) where he has served for more than three decades now, Watts (pictured, above) was awarded an OBE for his services to the construction industry back in 2008.

He’s a member of the Industry Response Group, set up in the immediate aftermath of the Grenfell Tower tragedy, and from June 2018 until January this year served as chair of the Competence Steering Group.

At the start of this year, of course, the latter became a formal Working Group of the Industry Competence Committee and has been renamed as the Industry Competence Steering Group.

Watts has also been an independent non-executive director of the BSCF since August 2021. He takes over the role of chair from Lord Gary Porter, who has been chair of the scheme since it launched publicly in April 2022.  

Speaking about his appointment, Watts said: “I’m delighted to take up this appointment as chair of the BSCF, which directly follows on from my previous work in enhancing competences related to building safety as chair of the Competence Steering Group for the past five years.”

Watts added: “I believe passionately that a competent workforce is paramount across all sectors of our industry. I’m now looking forward to supporting the excellent work of the BSCF in continuing to raise standards.”

Prior to joining the CIC, Watts was CEO of the British Institute of Architectural Technologists (a member of the CIC) from 1983. He’s currently a director of the CIC Approved Inspectors Register (CICAIR Ltd), Construction Umbrella Bodies (Holdings) Ltd, the Considerate Constructors’ Scheme and Constructionarium Ltd. He was a Visiting Professor at the University of Northumbria for 12 years from 2000 and has been Secretary of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Excellence in the Built Environment since 2010.

Supporting work on competence

Neil Gibbins (pictured, right) is lead fire safety consultant at Collaborative Reporting for Safer Structures (CROSS) UK and now joins the BSCF Board as an independent non-executive director.

Like Graham Watts, Gibbins has supported the post-Grenfell industry-led competence work and was the secretary of the Competence Steering Group’s Fire Engineers Group (ie Working Group 3). He assisted Structural-Safety with the expansion of CROSS to incorporate fire safety in 2021 and sits on the CROSS UK Technical Board.

Further, Gibbins is chair of the BSCF’s Building Control Scheme Committee.

Gibbins’ career commenced as an operational firefighter in the late 1970s, when he initially served as a firefighter in Derbyshire before progressing to become Deputy Chief Fire Officer of the Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service.

In fact, Gibbins served as lead officer for fire protection within the Chief Fire Officers Association (now the National Fire Chiefs Council) from 2007 to 2013, chairing the Working Group that managed the implementation of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. Since moving on from the Fire and Rescue Service, Gibbins has been president and CEO of the Institution of Fire Engineers (of which he’s a Fellow).

Critical importance

Lorna Stimpson, executive director of the BSCF and CEO of LABC, informed Fire Safety Matters: “Graham and Neil’s impressive CVs speak for themselves. Both already understand the critical importance that the BSCF plays in helping building control professionals on their competence validation journey, which means that they can hit the ground running.”

Stimpson added: “I would like to thank Lord Porter for his time chairing the BSCF Board and for helping us at the start of the BSCF journey.”

Working for the public benefit, public safety and consumer protection, the creation of the BSCF enables investment in the competence, ethics and culture of the wider construction industry.

The BSCF delivers competence validation for those responsible for the regulation, design, construction and maintenance of the built environment. The Foundation provides independence and credibility through a dedicated governance model, which includes public service building control, but with the addition of independent directors to ensure transparency and impartiality.

*Further information is available online at www.thebscf.org