Prepared by Ben Jones assisted by John Millbank and Ernie Spencer to celebrate the 20th anniversary on 18 April 2012

Historically, the first 'modern' association for Building Control outside London was the Guild of Municipal Building Inspectors, later to become the Institute of Building Control, both formed within the structure of the Institution of Municipal Engineers. In the mid 1970's the Essex Chief Technical Officers Association which consisted of the Directors of Technical Services in all 14 Essex authorities decided that a Building Control Group should be formed. This was called the Essex Building Regulations Liaison Group. The Group would be chaired by one of Directors and the principal aim was to provide a consistent approach to implementing and enforcing the Building Regulations across the County. Prior to the formation of the Group there was very little formal discussion between Building Control authorities outside London and other major cities.

The first Chairman was Brian Clarke of Southend and he was followed by Ken Whitehead of Harlow and finally Frank Scaife from Uttlesford. All were very much in the mould of the Borough Engineer, having structural and civil engineering qualifications. They all recognised the value of the Building Control profession and were great supporters of it. They also felt quite strongly about Building Control being brought under the wing of planners and were very much against it. Frank Scaife was also against the word Control in our job titles because he felt that this created a negative impression to our customers. He much preferred the word Surveyor, which more accurately described what we did. Everyone in the industry had heard of the District Surveyor. John Daynes of Maldon became the Groups first Secretary.

In the early 1990's, thoughts of independence from the Essex Chief Technical Officers Association were put forward. Derek Hince from Brentwood who was a great forward thinker (Type Approvals and cross boundary working being two examples) was a prime mover towards this approach. The retirement of Frank Scaife in 1992 provided an ideal opportunity for this to happen. Ernie Spencer from Uttlesford chaired the first meeting and remained its Chairman until 1999. Ben Jones from Rochford became Secretary, a position which he held until 1999.

It was agreed that the Group would be called the Essex Building Surveyors Association. Its constitution and way of working was very much modelled on the London District Surveyors Association (LDSA). This Group had been formed in 1985 with the demise of the GLC and was an amalgamation of the District Surveyors Association and the Greater London Building Surveyors Association (GLBSA). Ernie Spencer had been Secretary of GLBSA for 5 years and was also an honorary member of LDSA. Strong links were developed between the two Associations largely to the benefit of EBSA. Training sessions on Public Entertainment Licencing and the impact of the implementation of the Party Wall Act outside London are two examples of how extensive experience in these fields were brought to Essex.

The Essex Building Control Liaison Group and later EBSA were probably the first formally constituted Groups outside London and the major cities. Essex was credited with issuing the very first Type Approval and for obtaining a resolution from all Councils in the County agreeing to cross boundary working. The main component of which was plan checking for other local authorities during periods of staff shortages or spikes in workload. Through the Uttlesford court case with Econoloft, Approved Document K was significantly modified and the use of Space Saver staircases curtailed. The Dunbrik case (concrete flues constructed without the correct high alumina cement content) also resulted in Approved Document J being completely re-written.

Strong links were developed with Essex County Fire and Rescue Service (ECFRS) and each year three training sessions were organised to enable all staff (local authority and fire prevention officers from ECFRS) to attend. Links were also established with the Essex Access Forum as a result of virtually all EBSA members being Access Officers for their respective local authorities and active members of their local Access Groups. For many years Paul Everall was Head of the Building Regulations Division at the Department of the Environment (now Department for Communities and Local Government) and he once said that he received more letters and representations from EBSA than any other organisation in the Country!!

In the early 1990's Building Surveyors within the County were increasingly becoming involved with the safety aspects of public entertainment licensing and upon the encouragement of ECFRS, EBSA formed a sub group in 1993. This group, Chaired by John Millbank of Braintree and then by Peter Smith of Epping with Alan Eames as Secretary, was hosted by ECFRS at its Brentwood headquarters. The group produced numerous guidance documents to assist Licensees and the consistent application of technical standards within the County. The group was disbanded in 2003 when the radical change in licensing legislation took place.

Influence beyond the County continues with Phil Hammond (Deputy Chief Executive of Local Authority Building Control (LABC) nationally) relying on Essex to provide information in relation to his project to convince the Minister and others of the value of an independent third party check for compliance with the Building Regulations. The Essex Technical Group chaired by Rob Saunders from Epping feeds information and comment to Doug Basen, Technical Policy Manager at LABC.

Founding Members of EBSA

Past Chairmen and Secretaries of EBSA