A lack of accountability in the construction industry has motivated Stroud District Council to adopt the Unite Construction Charter.

The Charter, which aims to ensure the health, safety and rights of workers, is a product of Unite the Union, the second largest trade union in the country.

In a statement the council said, "As a local authority we are responsible for the procurement of a multitude of construction projects.

It is therefore appropriate that we commit to working with the appropriate trade unions, in order to achieve the highest standards of working conditions with the implementation of appropriate, nationally agreed terms of employment."

Leader of the council, Cllr Doina Cornell (Lab, Dursley) said, "These are common sense practices to raise safety and well-being when all too often they are not complied with." 

"To date, 54 councils have adopted the charter and if it is good enough for the likes of Bristol, Birmingham and Sheffield, then it is good enough for us."

However, some councillors voiced their concern as to whether it could deter potential investment in the area, particularly with the council's flagship canal regeneration scheme at Brinscombe Port due to start next year. 

Cllr Nick Hurst (Con, Minchinhampton), who has spent 45 years in the construction industry, said, "We already have health and safety laws. This provision is not unique to the Unite Charter."

"Most of my career has been working alongside responsible contractors and while there are cowboy construction companies out there, whether this charter actually prevents their bad practice is up for debate."

Cllr Hurst was concerned that the Charter would require additional administration that will add unnecessarily to the Council's costs.

"I don’t have a problem with the Charter's philosophy, but in my mind its safeguards are already part of our health and safety regulations. We don’t need another level of administration which will only bring costs." 

"I don’t want to have to stand here in 12 months time when we can't find a partner who will sit with all the protocols that Unite seek to put into construction site."

Cllr Cornell responded by saying, "We as a council would send a strong message if we didn't support these standards that are about fairness, decency and respect for the law."