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Apologies for absence and notification of substitutes
The following apologies for absence were received:-
Councillors N. Nazir and S. Khan, Redditch Borough Council and N. Martin, Wyre Forest District Council with Councillor J. Thomas, Wyre Forest District Council in attendance as substitute Member.
It was noted that apologies were also received from Mr. I. Miller, Wyre Forest District Council.
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.
It was agreed that, the minutes of the Board meeting held on Thursday 23rd June 2022, to be taken to the next meeting of the Board.
The Interim S151 officer, Finance, 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 15 and 16 of the main agenda report.
The Interim S151 officer, confirmed that the report covered the period April to June 2022.
Members were informed that the detailed revenue report, as attached at Appendix 1 to the report; showed a projected outturn 2022/23 of £5k refund to partners. It was appreciated that this was an estimation to the year-end based on the following assumptions: -
· A 2% pay award had been added to the projected outturn figures but was not included in the April to June 2022 actual figures.
· A number of employees were working on grant funded Covid-19 related work. This incurred agency staff costs due to the backfilling of these employees.
Wychavon District Council £5k
Bromsgrove District Council £1k
Bromsgrove District Council £6k
Malvern Hills District Council £4k
Worcester City Council £5k
This income was included in the income projected outturn.
WRS had budgeted for a 2% pay award in 2022-23. The current proposed pay award was £1,925 per annum on all pay points (pro rata for part time work,) and, if accepted, would create additional pressure on WRS salaries beyond the budgeted amount to the value of £115,756. The Head of Regulatory Services would be discussing this with the officer members of the Board prior to the Boards November’s Budget setting meeting, in order to agree how to address the potential shortfall.
In response to a question with regard to Gull Control, the Technical Services Manager, WRS, explained that WRS had built an excellent reputation for the work it did for Worcester City Council on gull control, and that this had led to work for Bath and North-East Somerset Council, who had been struggling with this particular problem.
The Head of Regulatory Services presented the Activity and Performance Data for Quarter 1, 2022/2023 and in doing so highlighted the following key points: -
The first quarter of 2022/23 saw WRS begin the year with no Covid-19 controls for the first time in two years.
The number of food safety cases recorded during quarter one was a reduction of 4% compared to 2021-22, but an increase of 55% compared to 2020-21. This demonstrated our return to normal activity post-pandemic. Generally, a higher proportion of food safety cases were enquiries such as requests for business advice or export health certificates, but some were complaints about a business. Based on the 144 complaints recorded, 84% related to issues with products purchased from food businesses, whilst 16% related to poor hygiene standards and practices.
A good number of visits were undertaken as WRS worked towards the end of the Food Standards Agency’s roadmap in March next year. Of the interventions conducted at businesses included in the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme (FHRS), 7 were rated as non-compliant (0, 1 or 2) with most of these ratings issued to hospitality businesses.
The number of health and safety cases recorded during quarter one was consistent with 2021-22, but an increase of 42% compared to 2020-21. Again, this reflected the post-pandemic return to normality. Approximately 34% of cases were reports of accidents, with 50% relating to injuries where a worker had been incapacitated for more than seven days and 28% related to injuries to members of the public. The remaining cases were accidents, where major injuries were sustained, dangerous occurrences, and two fatalities. Slips, trips, and falls continued to be the prominent cause of accidents.
The number of stray or lost dogs recorded during quarter one, saw an increase of 18% compared to 2021-22, but an increase of 22% compared to 2020-21. Approximately 72% of cases related to 'contained' stray dogs, which meant that a dog had been found and held, usually by a member of the public. Overall, 68% of contained strays were reunited with their owners. However, figures varied significantly between partner authorities and, of course the others then must be re-homed by the charities that WRS worked with.
Licensing saw a return to normality, and the number of licensing cases recorded during quarter one saw an increase of 17% compared to 2021-22. There were significantly fewer licensing applications recorded two years ago due to Covid-19 restrictions and the closure of many hospitality premises, so we continued to see normality being restored. Approximately two-thirds of cases recorded during quarter one were applications and registrations; with 33% of those relating to temporary events, as hospitality venues began gearing up for the summer period. A further 25% related to private hire or hackney carriage vehicle licences, and 13% related to driver licences.
The number of planning enquiries completed during quarter one saw a reduction of 42% compared to 2021-22, but a reduction of only 4% compared to 2020-21. Approximately 90% of enquiries were consultations, ... view the full minutes text for item 16/22
The Licensing and Support Services Manager introduced the update report on the Automation progress and in doing so, drew Members’ attention to the following: -
The Technical Services Manager introduced the information report and stated that there was a lot happening in the air quality regime. Members were informed that 2022 had proved to be a busy year in terms of air quality and the purpose of this report was to provide Board Members with an update as to the legislative changes and the various work streams currently taking place.
Environment Act 2021
The Act arrived on the statue book in January which hailed 2 significant changes that impacted on WRS work on behalf of its partners.
Part 1 established the Office for Environmental Protection (OEP), which had their head office locally at Worcestershire County Council. The head office would be the new watchdog that oversaw the performance of all UK regulators including the Government (post Brexit). The focus for Local Authorities (LA’s) would be around serious failure to comply with Environmental Law. The OEP was also outward facing in terms of complaints and members of the public could also raise grievances regarding a perceived or suspected breach of environmental legislation.
Part 2 amended the present Local Authority Air Quality Management Regime (LAQM) and broadened the statutory responsibility for delivering air quality improvement in the areas, as detailed on page 59 of the main agenda report.
In terms of statutory reporting a further tightening had been introduced to ensure that authorities adhered to the timeframes (annual status reports, detailed assessments, and declarations of air quality management areas) and their locally set deadlines for air quality action planning. This came with the threat of ministerial directions should respective authorities fail to adhere to DEFRA’s progressive deadlines.
Process of AQAP development must be a collaborative process with AQ partners. (County Council, National Highways), all engaging proactively.
WRS had submitted completed Annual Status Reporting for 2022 on schedule during June and had since received positive feedback following DEFRA review for all partners. However, the ministry made observations in relation to the age of the current Air Quality Action Plan (AQAP 2013,) and a recommendation was made that a review would be necessary in the next 12 months.
WRS had acted on this recommendation and had brought together key individuals to form a new county-wide officers’ group that would collaborate on developing a new AQAP.
Defra Grant Scheme 2022
As detailed on page 60 of the main agenda report, 2022’s grant scheme was split in two halves this year and LOT 2 had provided WRS with the opportunity to bid for funding for this scheme. WRS would be submitting a £276,000 bid to purchase and run 24 monitoring stations for 4 years. This would enable WRS to monitor any successes with work being actively monitored around schools and identified high risk areas. Members were asked to note that log burners were included in air quality.
Members commented that they were pleased to see that a lot was happening in the air quality regime and were delighted to receive the information report. Councillor B. Nielsen Malvern Hills District Council briefly ... view the full minutes text for item 18/22