Agenda for Worcestershire Regulatory Services Board on Thursday 16th February 2017, 4.30 p.m.

Agenda and minutes

Worcestershire Regulatory Services Board
Thursday 16th February 2017 4.30 p.m.

Venue: Parkside Suite - Parkside. View directions

Contact: Pauline Ross 

Items
No. Item

27/16

Apologies for absence and notification of substitutes

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillors R. Laight, Bromsgrove District Council, J. Fisher, Redditch Borough Council and J. Riaz, Worcester City Council.

 

It was noted that Councillor Y. Smith, Redditch Borough Council was in attendance as substitute Member for J. Fisher and Councillor J. Squires was in attendance as substitute Member for J. Riaz.

 

Apologies for absence were also received from Ms. J. Pickering, Bromsgrove District Council and Redditch Borough Council.

28/16

Declarations of Interest

To invite Councillors to declare any Disclosable Pecuniary Interests or Other Disclosable Interests they may have in items on the agenda, and to confirm the nature of those interests.

Minutes:

No declarations of interest were received.

29/16

Minutes pdf icon PDF 166 KB

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting of the Worcestershire Regulatory Services Board held on 24th November 2016 were submitted.

 

RESOLVED that the minutes of the Worcestershire Regulatory Services Board held on 24th November 2016 be approved as a correct record.

30/16

Chairman's Announcements

·         Worcestershire Regulatory Services Dog Warden Service

Minutes:

The Chairman took the opportunity to inform the Board that she was extremely pleased to hear that Worcestershire Regulatory Services (WRS) had successfully secured contracts to deliver dog warden services for the following local authorities, Cheltenham, Gloucester City and Tewkesbury for a period of three years with the option for a one year extension.

 

The Chairman also expressed her sincere thanks to officers and especially officers involved in the procurement process.  She also congratulated Mark Cox, Technical Services Manager, WRS and his team.

31/16

Worcestershire Regulatory Services Business Plan 2017-2020 pdf icon PDF 138 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Board was asked to consider and approve the Worcestershire Regulatory Services (WRS) Business Plan 2017/2020.

 

The Head of Regulatory Services, WRS introduced the report and in doing so informed Members that the business plan was a high level document that informed the development of the service for the foreseeable future.  The business plan was updated in 2016.   

 

The business plan detailed how WRS would offer a viable service within the projected partner envelopes; and to understand what a base line service would look like for partners who needed to reduce their financial contributions further into the current economic climate.  WRS would support other partners to maintain service levels above this, where required.  The business plan also provided details on the plans to ‘Grow the Business’ and increase income in order to maintain resilience in the face of continued austerity.

 

Income generation would remain the key factor in the business strategy.  It was possible that authorities could be encouraged to engage more with WRS and look more widely at contracting services to those who could offer expertise and resilience in service delivery.  This would make the challenging income targets more deliverable.

 

Members were further informed that the demise of the Shropshire’s outsourced regulatory team meant that there were fewer serious competitors, the 2020 partnership around West Oxfordshire, Cotswold and Forest of Dean District Council’s remained the main challenger.  However, authorities were now recognising income generation as a strategy so we could see others entering the market place, albeit they were unlikely to be able to match WRS’s scale.  Support from partner authorities at all levels, but more particularly Director, Chief Executive and Leader level would be necessary in selling WRS in what remained a significantly more competitive environment.

 

The Head of Regulatory Services, WRS continued and further informed the Board that understanding their costs and with good support from the Host Authorities Finance Team, they had been able to forecast the income needs going forward even beyond the period of the plan.  The table as detailed on page 22 in the report highlighted the five key tables most likely for expansion.  The income from the Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) would need to be retained and WRS would look to build on this relationship going forward. 

 

On the assumption of a cash standstill budget, the service would need to generate in excess of £350,000 in income by 2020 to continue to be able to offer the current service levels to partners and clients. This would be challenging but the management team believed that this was achievable.

 

WRS would need to continue to build on income streams such as Primary Authority and carry out work for other local authorities.  The levels of grant income currently achieved would need to be maintained and tap into new income streams such as pre-application advice, if the forecast requirements are to be met.  This could only be achieved if the service retained its current flexibility to re-invest income in resources where necessary.  The service would  ...  view the full minutes text for item 31/16

32/16

Worcestershire Regulatory Services Service Plan 2017-2018 pdf icon PDF 28 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Board was asked to consider and approve the Worcestershire Regulatory Services (WRS) Service Plan 2017/2018.

 

The Technical Services Manager, WRS presented the report and in doing so informed Members that the service plan followed the pattern of previous years with an Executive Summary, as detailed on page 42 in the report.

 

The service would continue to shape its work around the strategic priorities for local authority regulatory services, which were provided more than five years ago by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Regulatory Delivery Team.

 

A range of high level activities were identified within the plan so that Members would be aware of the general focus of activity.  Below this would sit a number of team plans that would be used to drive the actual business activities.

 

The plan was devised in the face of on-going financial uncertainty in local government generally.  Working with businesses and other partners was a key thread for both generating income to mitigate financial risk but also to ensure that outcomes were delivered that matched the priorities of partners and stakeholders.

 

The Technical Services Manager, WRS drew Members’ attention to the typographical numerical error of page 42 in the report, the figure should read £3.2m and not £3025m.

 

RESOLVED that subject to the typographical numerical error, as detailed in the preamble above being noted and corrected, the Worcestershire Regulatory Services Service Plan 2017/2018 be approved.

33/16

Worcestershire Regulatory Services Revenue Monitoring April - December 2016 pdf icon PDF 163 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Board considered a report which detailed the financial position for the period 1st April 2016 to 31st December 2016.

 

The Chairman acknowledged the apologies received from the Executive Director, Finance and Corporate Resources, Bromsgrove District Council and Redditch Borough Council, and thanked the Financial Services, Manager, Bromsgrove District Council and Redditch Borough Council for attending the meeting to present the report.

 

The Financial Services Manager, Bromsgrove District Council and Redditch Borough Council introduced the report and in doing so informed the Board that the report presented the final financial position for Worcestershire Regulatory Services (WRS) for the period 1st April 2016 to 31st December 2016.

 

The Financial Services Manager drew Members’ attention to the information as detailed on page 68 in the report and as discussed earlier during the course of the meeting, agreed to clarify the information detailed under ‘Contractors’ and to align future budget information presented to the Board.

 

Councillor Y. Smith, Redditch Borough Council informed the Board that Pest Control charges were due to be considered by Council on 20th February 2017, as part of Redditch Borough Council’s Medium Term Financial Plan.

 

The Head of Regulatory, WRS responded to a question with regard to grant funding, as detailed on page 69 in the report and informed Members that the funding received from the Primary Care Trust was used for Health and Well-being initiatives.  The services were delivered within budget so not all of the funding was utilised.  However, he would reassure Members that the remaining funding could not be clawed back.  Similar services were delivered with the funding received from the Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP). The Worcestershire LEP was happy for the grant funding to be rolled into the following year.

 

RESOLVED:

a)    that the final financial position for the period 1st April 2016 to 31st December 2016, be noted; and 

b)    that partner councils are informed of their liabilities for 2016/2017 with regard to Pest Control and Bereavements, by Section 151 officers.

34/16

Activity and Performance Data Quarter 3 pdf icon PDF 138 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Board considered a report that detailed Worcestershire Regulatory Services Activity and Performance Data for Quarters 1, 2 and 3, 2016/2017.

 

The Environmental Health & Trading Standards Manager, Worcestershire Regulatory Services (WRS) introduced the report and in doing so informed Members that the number of service requests in respect of food safety and hygiene for the third quarter had showed a spike which exceeded the peak of 2014/2015.  As a result the continuation of relatively high levels of nuisance work into October and November, the high number of complex legal cases under investigation (which included two food premises closures) and food inspections were down on the same quarter last year.  In order to make up the volume of inspection work in the second half of the year, WRS would need to bring in additional capacity in the form of agency staff in order to achieve this.  This would be affordable due to the on-going income generation activity and would not require additional funding from partner authorities.

 

Primary Authority agreements continued to grow and more businesses had signed up to the Healthy Eating award, as detailed on page 81 in the report.

 

As previously highlighted due to the good autumn weather nuisance complaints remained higher than usual levels throughout October and November.    

 

Planning consultations fell off during quarter 3 following the spike over the summer. This provided the Technical Services team with some capacity to tackle other aspects of work such as Air Quality Strategy documents.  The team continued to service high levels of demand from clients outside Worcestershire and for the second year commenced their annual inspection programme for Gloucester City Council on Permitted Processes.

 

The falling trend in dog control issues across Worcestershire had been achieved by taking action to re-home persistent stray dogs and working with owners to achieve better control; alongside communities and individuals setting up their own ways of identifying strays and getting them back to their owners. This had enabled WRS to offer dog warden services more widely and to continue to bid for work outside of the county.

 

Although there was a small spike in licensing applications in November, overall numbers remained in line with previous years. 

 

Customer satisfaction was recorded at 80%, which was slightly below last year’s outrun and slightly above the quarter 3 figure in 2015/2016.  Business satisfaction was slightly down on the outrun at 96.7% but remained good.  The proportion of people who felt better equipped to deal with problems for themselves in future was in line with previous performance at 75.6%.

 

Staff sickness was higher than in previous years, at 4.74 days per full time equivalent (FTE) for the first two quarters.  A large contributory factor was due to a number of severe viral infections that had hit everyone during November and December. One staff member remained on long term sick.

 

The number of complaints against the service remained low but did increase in quarter three, taking the total to 17.  However they were significantly exceeded by the number  ...  view the full minutes text for item 34/16

35/16

Countywide Licensing Work Plan pdf icon PDF 104 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Board considered a report that gave an overview of the type of work carried out by the Licensing Team, Worcestershire Regulatory Services (WRS) on behalf of the six partner authorities during the last twelve months and a brief synopsis of work planned for 2017/2018.

 

The Licensing and SupportManager, WRS presented the report and in doing so informed the Board that under the partnership agreement licensing was a reserved matter, which meant that whilst WRS officers could act under delegated authority to deal with licensing (e.g. issuing licences, taking enforcement action) all matters of policy must be determined by each partner authority.

 

Each partner authority had an appointed Licensing Committee which met on average 4/5 times per municipal year. 

 

One of the main objectives for the Licensing Team had been to work with each of the Licensing Committee Chairs to introduce a structured approach to Licensing Committee agendas for each partner authority. 

 

This had involved the introduction of individual districts Licensing Committee Work Plans, which included all proposed future committee meeting dates, with pre-planned policy review information allocated alongside the routine fixed agenda items.  This accomplished two things, it gave Members an informed view of upcoming agenda items and it enabled the policy workflow for each district to be planned and managed by officers on a countywide basis.

 

Members were further informed that the main focus for the forthcoming financial year would be to expand this piece of work into a long term strategic program.  Because of the longer term nature of issues such as disabled access vehicles and changes to aspects of policy around vehicle type and description, this could mean developing a 5 to 10 year countrywide rolling program of policy reviews for a number of the partners.  It was considered best practice that each district council had a robust policy review program in place to ensure that their individual policies were still relevant to the subject matter and that they met any needs and objectives set down by legislation.

 

Part of the review process would involve consideration of the revised Local Government Association (LGA) “Councillor Handbook on Taxi Licensing” published in December 2016; and the much anticipated LGA “Taxi and Private Hire Vehicle Licensing Statutory and Best Practice Guidance,” due out in early spring.

Both of these documents would influence future policy development across the partner authorities and licensing officers would be focused on ensuring local policies met best practice guidance wherever possible.  

One such example was that each licensing authority currently had a policy on the application of the “Supplemental guidance relating to the relevance of convictions and cautions” which aided officers and Members in the decision making process to determine if an applicant / taxi driver was a fit and proper person to hold a licence. 

The Licensing Team was currently developing a much wider policy document which, if adopted by Members, would incorporate the wider scope of driving history / experience, medical fitness, criminal and driving convictions, warnings, reprimands and any valid complaints  ...  view the full minutes text for item 35/16

36/16

Worcestershire Regulatory Services Board - 2017/2018 Proposed Meeting Dates:-

All meetings to commence at 4:30pm:

 

·         Thursday 22nd June 2017

·         Thursday 5th October 2017

·         Thursday 16th November 2017 (Budget)

·         Thursday 15th February 2018  

Minutes:

The Board considered the proposed meeting dates scheduled for 2017/2018.

 

RESOLVED that the Worcestershire Shared Services Board meeting dates and meeting start time of 4:30 p.m. for 2017/2018 be approved as follows:-

 

·         Thursday 22nd June 2017

·         Thursday 5th October 2017

·         Thursday 16th November 2017 – Budget Meeting

·         Thursday 15th February 2018