Agenda and minutes

Worcestershire Regulatory Services Board - Thursday 5th October 2023 4.30 p.m.

Venue: Parkside Suite - Parkside. View directions

Contact: Pauline Ross 

No. Item


Apologies for absence and notification of substitutes


An apology for absence was received from Councillor M. Allcott, Worcester City Council with Councillor K. Lawrance in attendance as the substitute Member.


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.


Minutes pdf icon PDF 401 KB


The minutes of the meeting of the Worcestershire Regulatory Services Board held on 29th June 2023 were submitted.


RESOLVED that the minutes of the Worcestershire Regulatory Services Board meeting held on 29th June 2023, be approved as a correct record.




WRS Revenue Monitoring April - June 2023 pdf icon PDF 242 KB

Additional documents:


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 21 to 22 of the main agenda report.


The Interim S151 officer, confirmed that the report covered the period April to June 2023.


Members were informed that the detailed revenue report, as attached at Appendix 1 to the report; showed a projected outturn 2023/24 of £4k overspend. It was appreciated that this was an estimation to the year-end based of the following assumptions: -


·         A 2% pay award had been added to the projected outturn figures, as per the original budget.  There was a reserved £120k from last year surplus to accommodate an enhanced pay award in 2023/24.


·         If April to June 2023 spend on pest control continued on the same trend for the rest of year, there would be no overspend to be charged to partners on this service.  WRS officers would continue to monitor and analyse this spend and advise of any changes in the projected outturn figure at quarter 2.


·         The following was the actual bereavements costs April to June 2023 to be funded by partners. These costs were charged on an as and when basis. Due to the nature of the charge, it was not possible to project a final outturn figure: -                               


                        Bromsgrove District Council       £2k

                        Redditch Borough Council          £3k                                                                                                            


  • Appendix 2 to the report, detailed the income achieved by WRS for April to June 2023.


  • Any grant funded expenditure was shown separate to the core service costs as this was not funded by the participating Councils.


Fees and Charges increases were currently holding and slightly above where we needed to be.


The Head of Worcestershire Regulatory Services responded to a question from Members and in doing so stated that the 1% increase on salaries equated to approximately £60k.


The Technical Services Manager, WRS, explained that the Ukrainian Support Work – Bromsgrove & Redditch, as detailed on page 27 of the report, was to provide continued support to Bromsgrove and Redditch District Councils (BDC / RBC) Housing Teams, using the former COVID Advisors, who provided welfare checks, safeguarding and signposting for guests who came to the UK on the Homes for Ukraine scheme.   

Marlpool – Redditch, this was an ongoing project whereby WRS on behalf of RBC had completed a Contaminated Land Investigation.  A number of houses in Marlpool Drive, Redditch were situated on a former landfill site.  Urgent remedial works to retrofit each building was undertaken and costs for the additional electricity used, for the equipment installed to prevent landfill gas entering their properties.


Stray Dog Income – this was income generated by WRS providing ‘other’ dog related services to other authorities. The stray dog service continued to be incredibly busy with an ever increasing number of dogs received with welfare concerns.


The Head of WRS briefly explained that Bereavements costs were incurred where there were no relatives or no means to payment for  ...  view the full minutes text for item 16/23


Activity & Performance Data - Quarter 1 2023-24 pdf icon PDF 295 KB

Additional documents:


The Technical Services Manager, Worcestershire Regulatory Services (WRS) presented the Activity and Performance Data for Quarter 1 – 2023/2024; and in doing so highlighted the following key points: -


Activity Data

Of the 370 interventions conducted at businesses included in the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme (FHRS) during Quarter 1, 11 were rated as non-compliant (0, 1 or 2). Over half of these ratings were issued to the hospitality sector (i.e. Pubs, clubs or takeaways).

Stray or lost dogs recorded by WRS during Quarter 1 showed a significant increase compared to the same periods in both 2021-22 and 2022-23 (50%/ 24% respectively). Officers had been suggesting this would happen for some time, with a combination of post-pandemic returns to work combined with the cost-of-living pressures, meant that keeping a dog was much harder for households compared with 2 years ago.

The seasonal increase in applications occurred in Quarter 1, as a significant number of hospitality businesses applied for Temporary Events during the summer months. Figures would suggest that this year’s figures probably represented a balancing position, with businesses looking for fewer events than last year but still more than the year before heading out of the pandemic with an increase of 8% compared to 2021-22, but a reduction of 10% compared to 2022-23. Around 68% of cases logged were applications and registrations; with 30% relating specifically to temporary events, 27% relating to private hire /hackney carriage vehicles, and 14% relating to driver licences.


WRS reported overall numbers of compliant and non-compliant businesses at this point in the year, without the district breakdown. 98.4% of businesses subject to intervention were graded 3 stars to 5 stars on the hygiene rating scheme.

Compliments outnumbered complaints significantly, with the figure currently 34 to 4.

The Licensing and Support Services Manager responded to questions with regards to the recent WRS licensing enforcement night carried out for BDC with the police and the City of Wolverhampton Council. Board Members were informed that officers were liaising the police and the City of Wolverhampton Council to arrange further licensing enforcement nights for the other partner authorities.

Members commented that it was excellent news about the number of food businesses that had been graded 3 stars to 5 stars and could this be promoted.

Officers responded to further questions with regards to the noise nuisance information; and in doing so highlighted that some of the partner authorities urban centres were small with not a lot of residential properties in these urban centres.  Data varied from year to year taking into account the ratio of complaints to occupation.  Festivals being held could also dramatically increase the number of complaints received.

The Head of WRS further responded and explained that newsletters had been circulated on noise issues and legislation. The current framework did not meet the expectations of the public with domestic noise issues.  However, residents were able to bring their own cases to court.

Members further stated that whilst they found the information, tables and graphs fascinating they did  ...  view the full minutes text for item 17/23


Progress Report on the Automation Project pdf icon PDF 93 KB


The Licensing and Support Services Manager highlighted to new Board Members that at first meeting of the Board in 2022/23, Board Members had agreed to create a reserve of £150,000 underspend to fund the implementation of automation of data entry for customers; enabling a range of services to be addressed by the client entering data in forms on the WRS website, which would then upload directly into the IDOX Uniform back-office system.


Following on from this, WRS officers agreed to provide a short progress report at future Board meetings on the implementation of the project. 




At the last Board meeting held on 29th June 2023, Board Members had requested additional assurances around the governance of the project to ensure that the correct controls were in place. Members were informed that officers continued to use the Bromsgrove Project Framework as a mechanism for Project Governance and Management but had also introduced an extra level of scrutiny for sign off.


Officers had liaised with the councils’ shared Audit service and had agreed that the Head of Worcestershire Regulatory Services, the Director of Finance and Wyre Forest District Council’s ICT Manager would be responsible for sign off prior to any project go live milestones that were executed. Officers hoped that this provided Board Members with the assurance that these senior officers would be evaluating the situation independently and objectively, making any decision proportionate to the project.


In addition to this, colleagues from Audit would audit the financial elements of the project throughout to ensure that all safeguards were in place to mitigate any risks of monies being moved to the wrong place or account.




The testing and evaluation of forms continued. The project remained in the first testing phase whilst officers awaited the merchant ID number to enable on-line card payments, so progress to Stage 2 testing could commence. Stage 1 testing had involved internal testing with different teams within WRS, using officers from across the service.


Alongside the testing phase a program of communications was being planned in conjunction with the district communications teams. It was envisaged that a soft launch strategy would be executed but stakeholder groups would need to be approached to ensure that the correct channels were used to provide information, whether this be through the district council websites or other means.


In parallel to the wider automation project, officers continued to assess the roll out of electronic ID Cards in the taxi trade for both safeguarding and enforcement measures. IT colleagues at Wyre Forest continued to work on the dashboard implementation. Once officers understood the timeframes of this in more detail, a plan would be executed for implementation across the County.


The Licensing and Support Services Manager responded to questions from Board Members with regards to ID Cards.  Members were informed that every license holder would be required to carry an ID Card that was registered against their badge.  These ID Cards could be scanned by officers when carrying out any enforcement activities, providing a  ...  view the full minutes text for item 18/23


Enforcement Policy pdf icon PDF 95 KB

Additional documents:


The Head of Worcestershire Regulatory Services presented a report on the WRS Enforcement Policy 2023.


Board Members were informed that in 2011, the then Joint Committee had agreed to support the adoption of a single WRS Enforcement Policy that the service would use in relation to all its activities.


This policy would be an adjunct to other enforcement policies that each partner authority had for its remaining enforcement activities. Being based on the requirements of the then Regulator’s Compliance Code, the policy would not have contradicted any approach being taken by partners in other areas of enforcement such as planning.


In 2016, when the partnership became a district only arrangement, the Head of WRS had made minor amendments to the policy and had asked Members of the Joint Committee to ratify the policy and to recommend adoption by the six councils.


Local authorities were encouraged to produce Enforcement Policies for many years so that those sectors they regulated knew understood what to expect. This was originally driven by the introduction of the Enforcement Concordat, created by LACORS, the Local Government Association’s Regulatory Policy support body for member authorities, and built upon by the Regulator’s Compliance Code, issued by the Better Regulation Executive, under the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Act 2006.


As detailed in the report, the original Regulators Compliance Code was replaced with the Regulator’s Code. The core of the new Code had changed little from the original Regulators Compliance Code, but some aspects were clarified and tidied up. Whilst this had not changed since the last review, the Head of WRS had felt that reviewing this policy every three to five years and bringing it back to Members, ensured that they were aware of the processes that the service followed during regulatory decision making and that this would provide Members with the reassurance that the service was taking a fair and equitable approach when dealing with offending. This was particularly important with the significant number of new members who had recently joined the WRS Board for 2023/2024; and probably even more relevant given the number of newly elected Members across the partners who are new to local government.


The Head of WRS further explained that before putting a case before the Courts, local authorities also needed to have regard to the Code for Crown Prosecutors, which lay down the very basic provisions in its two tests of evidential sufficiency and public interest before a case could be considered a sound candidate to be taken to Court.


Whilst WRS officers prepared the case file and evidence, with Team Managers or the Head of Service making recommendations on action, the delegation in relation to the instigation of legal proceedings meant that the final decision on whether a matter went to court sat with the relevant Head of Legal Services and their delegated officers. This separation mirrors what occurred between the Police and Crown Prosecution Service and ensured that local authorities complied with the separation of investigatory and prosecuting roles envisaged in  ...  view the full minutes text for item 19/23