Talks follow electrical chaos

Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council, the regulatory authority for electrical testing at the Birmingham NEC, has met with the Association of Exhibition Contractors (AEC) to discuss a revised format for testing on-stand electrics before the opening of exhibitions.

The talks were arranged after exhibitors experienced huge delays during the build-up to the Emap TPS-organised Autumn Fair at the NEC last month.

The council had demanded stricter testing following a major health and safety incident at the venue earlier this year.

Both parties have now agreed to a six-month period of industry consultation on the development of a 'workable' testing system, which the AEC says could become standard at other venues.

A working group has been established comprising the main contractors Opex Group, Melville Exhibition & Event Services, Early Action Group and Stanco Exhibitions.

NEC Group operations director Shaun Ormrod said: "Bringing together the industry and the regulatory authority is a major breakthrough resulting in more time to ensure that new legislation can be implemented in a way that takes account of the industry's needs.

"By engaging with the AEC on this matter, the consultation can be cross-referenced with the body's organiser and venue arms, but I urge anyone that represents the electrical contracting industry to get involved with these talks."

Rival contractor trade body the British Exhibition Contractors Association (BECA) wrote to Ormrod in August, demanding answers to questions about the stricter testing procedures posed by 17 of its electrical contractor members.

Following the formation of the working group, BECA director Lynn Felton said: "This is an industry issue which needs resolving and we have representation."

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