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Election of Chairman for the meeting
Having received apologies from the Chairman and Vice-Chairman it was
RESOLVED that Councillor J. Raine, Malvern Hills District Council be elected Chairman for the meeting.
Apologies for absence and notification of substitutes
The following apologies for absence were received:-
Councillors A. D. Kent, Bromsgrove District Council and D. Morris, Wychavon District Council.
Councillors T. Wells, Malvern Hills District Council, J. Carver and R. Udall, Worcester City Council, P. Dyke, Wyre Forest District Council with Councillors M. Davies, Malvern Hills District Council, A. Ditta and S. Cronin, Worcester City Council and A. Coleman, Wyre Forest District Council, in attendance, respectively, as substitute Members.
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.
There were no declarations of interest.
The minutes of the meeting of the Worcestershire Regulatory Services Board held on 24th June 2021, were submitted.
RESOLVED that minutes of the Worcestershire Regulatory Services Board meeting held on 24th June 2021, be approved as a correct record.
The Head of Regulatory Services reminded the Board that the scheduled meeting of the Board on 30th September was cancelled due to the fuel crisis being at its height at the time.
This cancellation caused no significant issues as there were no papers requiring discussion and a formal vote for decision; all reports were for noting.
Following of from the cancellation, the Head of Regulatory Services took the opportunity to email all Board Members regards the cancelling of the meeting; and also informed Board Members that, if they had any questions in relation to the papers, as detailed on the agenda issued, that officers would provide written responses which would then be circulated to all Board Members.
A paper would have been used to formally introduce the questions and answers into the Board’s record of business, however, no questions were received.
The reports that would have been presented to Board Members on 30th September 2021, had been scheduled as background papers, with the agenda distributed for 18th November 2021.
Thus, enabling Board Members to address their contents and to ask any questions at the meeting scheduled for 18th November 2021.
Members were also asked to note that both the Activity Data Report and the Revenue Monitoring Report were snapshots of the position as at the end of June 2021 and that Members may feel that the contents were now of less relevance given that; the reports presented at today’s meeting would address the financial position as at the end of September 2021 and the activity data for the second quarter of this financial year. However, officers were happy to take questions.
RESOLVED that the Board papers 30th September 2021 report be noted and that Members also note the relevant recommendations in each of the reports as detailed in the background papers as provided.
The Executive Director of Resources, Bromsgrove District Council (BDC) and Redditch Borough Council (RBC), introduced the report and in doing so drew Members’ attention to the Recommendations as detailed on pages 13 and 14 of the main agenda report.
The Executive Director of Resources confirmed that the report covered the period April September 2021.
The detailed revenue report was attached at Appendix 1 to the report. This showed a projected outturn 2021/2022 of £48k refund to partners. It was appreciated that this was an estimation to the year end based on the following assumptions:-
· A number of employees were working on grant funded covid related work and a small amount of work in other grant related areas. This in incurring agency staff costs due to backfilling of these employees. However due to the difficulty of recruiting agency staff this was resulting in a savings within salaries.
Redditch Borough Council £11k
Wychavon District Council £12k
Bromsgrove District Council £7k
Appendix 1 to the report detailed the WRS – Profit & Loss Report 2021/2022 and the reasons for variances.
The Executive Director of Resources and the Technical Services Manager, WRS, responded to questions with regard to the underspend due to the number of stray dogs reducing.
The Head of Regulatory Services responded to further questions with regard to the purchase of noise monitoring equipment and in doing so, explained that there was a need to ensure that noise monitoring equipment was calibrated and fit for purpose, if challenged in Court during any Statutory Nuisance cases.
a) the final financial position for the period April to September 2021, be noted;
b) partner councils are informed of their liabilities for 2021-2022 in relation to Bereavements.
c) partner councils are informed of their liabilities for 2021-22 in relation to Pest Control
d) partner councils are informed of their liabilities for 2021-2022 in relation to three additional Technical Officers.
The Executive Director of Resources, Bromsgrove District Council (BDC) and Redditch Borough Council (RBC), introduced the report and in doing so drew Members’ attention to the recommendations as detailed on pages 21 to 23 of the main agenda report.
The budget helped each partner authority to set their Medium Term Financial Plan (MTFP).
Members were further informed that the following assumptions had been made in relation to the projections:
· 2% pay award across all staff for 2022/23 – 2024/25. This would be subject to the National Pay Negotiations that were ongoing and therefore the final position would reflect any formally agreed increases, the budget also included any employee entitled to an incremental increase.
· Increase in Rent of £7k.
· Increase in ICT Hosting of £15.5k.
· Increase in Support Hosting of £10k.
· Total partner contributions as detailed at Appendix 2.
· Income projections as included at Appendix 3.
· No inflationary increases in supplies and services, premises or transport.
· Pension back-funding would be paid by all partners.
The unavoidable salary pressures were not able to be met currently by WRS making additional income, therefore, an increase to partner funding would be required, as detailed on page 24 of the main agenda report.
With regard to the changes in rent, ICT and support hosting, it should be noted that officer representatives of each partner authority had met to check and challenge the reasonableness of the proposed increases. The increases were seen as modest increases.
These pressures were not able to be met currently by WRS, therefore, an increase to partner funding would be required, as detailed on page 25 of the main agenda report.
The Executive Director of Resources and the Head of Regulatory Services responded to questions from Members with regard to the revenue budget and partner percentage allocation calculations.
RECOMMENDED that partner authorities approve the following for 2022/2023:
a) the 2022/23 gross expenditure budget of £3,891k as shown in Appendix 1.
b) the 2022/23 income budget of 634k as shown in Appendix 1.
c) the revenue budget and partner percentage allocations for 2022/2023 onwards:
d) the additional partner liabilities for 2022/2023 in relation to unavoidable salary pressure:
e) the additional partner liabilities for 2022/2023 in relation to hosting costs:
f) Approve the additional partner liabilities for 2022/23 in relation ... view the full minutes text for item 17/21
The Community Environmental Health and Trading Standards Manager, Worcestershire Regulatory Services presented the Board with a detailed information report on Covid related activity.
Members were informed that WRS had been at the heart of the response to the Covid 19 pandemic. Initially, back in March 2020, the then Minister, Matt Hancock designated both Environmental Health Officers and Trading Standards Officers automatically as those responsible for enforcing business restrictions. This continued until July 2021 while controls remained in place under various iterations of regulations made under the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984.
A dedicated team was carved out of the Community Environmental Health division, supplemented with others from around the service to deliver controls on the ground, whilst the Trading Standards team focused its very small resource on scams, which grew massively and the issues around fake and non-compliant PPE entering the market.
As well as this, we embedded a group of Environmental Health Officers in the Local Outbreak Response team, where the skills they had for dealing with outbreaks like TB, Legionella and Food Poisoning, could be put to good use addressing issues that arose on business premises and generally providing support to what was bound to be a relatively inexperienced team built from scratch.
WRS also picked up responsibility for delivering a coordinated Covid Marshal scheme across the County, although given marshal sounds like someone with an enforcement role, we designated them Covid Advisors, to better fit their role. This led onto the service picking up responsibility for delivering “Lost to Follow-up” activity, attempting to contact those infected people who the national NHS Test and Trace service had failed to contact. This led to the service being asked to run the local contact tracing telephone system when Government decided it wanted to start handing responsibility down to local areas and allowing “lost to follow-up to become directly integrated into this operation.
Finally, we have been able to appoint a part-time communications officer to help report on all of these activities and also to keep our day to day activities in the public eye.
The report covered the following areas in detail:
· Covid Advisors
· Contact Tracing and Lost to Follow Up
· Covid Business Enforcement (including Events and Large Capacity spaces.
· Local Outbreak Response Team.
The Community Environmental Health and Trading Standards Manager, drew Members’ attention to the trial for one of the few cases for business non-compliance of the Covid regulations that ended up in Court, as detailed on page 38 of the main agenda report.
Members further referred to the conclusion of the Judge, that the Council was entirely right to issue the prohibition notices, with Members congratulating officers on their hard work.
Councillor E. Stokes, Wychavon District Council, requested that sincere thanks to regulatory services be recorded, for pursuing this case, which officers had tried to resolve before issuing the prohibition notices; and the positive conclusion made by District Judge Strongman. Officers were to be congratulated for their hard work.
The Chairman took the opportunity to ... view the full minutes text for item 18/21
The Head of Regulatory Services presented the Activity and Performance Data for Quarter 2 for 2021/2022; and in doing so highlighted that the Community Environmental Health and Trading Standards Manager, had already covered the services Covid related activities during Agenda Item 7 (Minute No. 18/21).
The Head of Regulatory Services went through some of the key areas as follows:
The second quarter of 2021/22 saw us leaving the Covid control regime completely with government replacing statutory controls with basic guidance on what business ought to do. Businesses were required to have regard to the advice given because of their responsibilities under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 but because the guidance was not statutory guidance under the ACT, officers were limited as to what they could now ask. As highlighted in the preamble above, details of this were covered in the Information Report – Covid related activities.
Quarter 2 saw the formal launch by the Food Standards Agency of its roadmap to restoring the provisions of the current food control regime. A timetable had been set that required councils to address businesses of a particular risk by a particular date, with April 2023 being set as the final date by which all relevant businesses would need to be visited by, (the lowest risk ones being left out of the re-start programme), and a new approach to food law enforcement would be introduced. The Agency was currently running pilots for Food Standards (Trading Standards function in Worcestershire,) and would be talking in more detail to unitary and district councils about a potential new approach in the oncoming months.
The number of health and safety cases recorded by WRS during quarter two was an increase of 30% compared to quarter one. It was also a notable increase compared to previous years. Approximately 37% of cases were reports of accidents; with 49% relating to injuries where a worker was incapacitated for more than seven days. The remaining cases related to injuries to members of the public, accidents where major injuries were sustained and a single dangerous occurrence. Last year saw an increase in accidents, beginning in quarter 2 and running into quarter 3 before declining into quarter 4.
The number of licensing cases recorded by WRS during quarter two saw an increase of 4% compared to quarter one. A reduction in the number of complaints and enquiries was offset by a 19% increase in the number of applications.
The number of planning enquiries completed by WRS during quarter two saw a reduction of 15% compared to quarter one, but was broadly consistent compared to previous years. Approximately 90% of enquiries were consultations, while 45% related to contaminated land. A fifth of planning enquiries were completed, on a contractual basis, on behalf of other local authorities.
In spite of the high workload, the Technical Services team had recently found time to update its technical guidance note for planning applicants, agents and consultants which ensured that developments were undertaken to the ... view the full minutes text for item 19/21