Agenda and minutes

Meeting on 15th Feb rescheduled to this date, Worcestershire Regulatory Services Board - Thursday 29th February 2024 4.30 p.m.

Venue: Parkside Suite - Parkside. View directions

Contact: Pauline Ross 

No. Item


Apologies for absence and notification of substitutes


Apologies for absence were received from Councillors J. Riaz, Worcester City Council, H. J. Jones, Bromsgrove District Council, L. Harrison, Redditch Borough Council, with Councillor B. Clayton in attendance as the substitute Member; and J. Kane, Redditch Borough Council with M. Stringfellow in attendance as the substitute Member.


With apologies for absence being received from the Chairman and the Vice-Chairman, Board Members were asked to nominate and elect a Chairman for this meeting.   


On being put to the vote it was


RESOLVED that Councillor J. Raine, Malvern Hills District Council, be elected as Chairman for the meeting.


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 368 KB


The minutes of the meeting of the Worcestershire Regulatory Services Board held on 16th November 2023 were submitted.


RESOLVED that the minutes of the Worcestershire Regulatory Services Board meeting held on 16th November 2023, be approved as a correct record.






Worcestershire Regulatory Service Revenue Monitoring April - Dec 2023 pdf icon PDF 248 KB

Additional documents:


The Deputy Chief Executive and Director of Resources 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 19 and 20 of the main agenda pack.


The report covered the period April to December 2023.


Members were informed that the detailed revenue monitoring report, as attached at Appendix 1 to the report; showed a projected outturn 2023/24 surplus of £3k. It was appreciated that this was an estimation to the year-end based of the following assumptions: -


·         The pay award had been agreed and included in the revenue monitoring statement. There was a reserved £120k from last year surplus to accommodate the enhanced pay award in 2023/24.


·         Agency staff costs were being incurred due to backfilling of staff working on other contractual work e.g., food recovery programme, contaminated land and work for other local authorities, these costs were covered by vacant posts and income generation.


·         If April to December 2023 spend on pest control continued on the same trend for the rest of year, there would be an overspend on this service of £15k. WRS officers would continue to monitor and analyse this spend and advise of any changes in the projected outturn figure at quarter 3. The projected outturn figure to be funded by partners was: -


Redditch Borough Council£7k

Wychavon District Council£8k


This income was included in the income projected outturn.


·         The following was the actual bereavements costs April to December 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       £4k

                           Malvern Hills District Council     £1k    

                        Redditch Borough Council          £17k   

                          Worcester City Council               £10k                                                                                                         


·         Appendix 2 to the report, detailed the income achieved by WRS for April to December 2023.


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


There was not a massive change from Quarter 2.


RESOLVED that the Board notes the final financial position for the period April – December 2023, and that 


1.1    partner councils be informed of their liabilities for 2023-24 in relation to 

        Bereavements, as follows: -




Apr – Dec 23

Actual for Bereavements


Bromsgrove District Council


Malvern Hills District Council


Redditch Borough Council


Worcester City Council






1.2   partner councils be informed of their liabilities for 2023-24 in relation to 

        Pest Control, as follows: -




Projected Outturn for Pest Control


Redditch Borough Council


Wychavon District Council






     1.3   partner councils be informed of their liabilities for 2023-24 in relation to

        three additional Technical Officers, as follows: -



Estimated Projected Outturn

2023/24 Tech Officer Income Generation


Estimated Projected Outturn 2023/24 Tech Officer Animal Activity                 £000

Estimated Projected Outturn 2023/24  

Gull Control               £000


Bromsgrove District Council




Malvern Hills  ...  view the full minutes text for item 30/23


Food Service and Food Standards Agency engagement pdf icon PDF 502 KB


The Head of Worcestershire Regulatory Services (WRS) presented the Food Service and Food Standards Agency engagement report, and in doing so informed Board Members that;


The Food Standards Agency (FSA) was the main competent authority for food controls in England. The food function was devolved in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. The Agency was pushing local authorities recently to increase their commitments to food law enforcement and to align activities more closely with the letter of the Food Law Code of Practice.


After engagement with senior officers and lead members, the partners agreed to an uplift in the WRS budget specifically for Food Safety Act enforcement. This report explains the detail of this and how the additional expenditure would be deployed.


In line with the Systems Thinking approach taken in these functional areas by the partners since 2011, WRS had been piloting alternative approaches as financial pressures on local authorities forced the partners to make difficult decisions in relation to support for many of their services over an extended period. The FSA was made aware of WRS’s experiments at the time and expressed some interest in the work being done, albeit the FSA would not endorse any changes that occurred, no matter how beneficial.


During the audit visit in 2017, WRS officers were left with the clear impression that the FSA was moving in the direction of accepting that intelligence-driven regulatory services offered the most cost effective and efficient form of control model available. This clearly seemed to be the direction of travel in the reviews of the Food Standards and then Food Hygiene codes, which were clearly labelled as seeking to build the role of intelligence into process.


Following the initial consultation on the revision to the Food Hygiene code, the FSA decided not to go forward with further change before 2027. At the same time, its performance teams had indicated an expectation that authorities that had chosen to move away from aspects of the code would be expected to re-align their activities to be more reflective of the letter of what was required. This meant relying less on intelligence and going back to increased levels of traditional inspection and alternative enforcement approaches within the Code.


The Food Hygiene Code of Practice was made under section 40 of the Food Safety Act 1990. Local authorities were required to have regard to it, but the FSA was empowered by the legislation to seek Ministerial direction to make local authorities comply with it. Given this power, after much discussion, officers and lead members felt that at least moving some way towards the FSA’s requirements would be sensible. We would not accept that the approach taken by the service had created issues and there was no evidence of any significant problems arising from the approaches taken. Officers also hope that the FSA would engage fully with WRS when it came to revising the Food Hygiene code, as officers felt that there was much that the service could contribute in terms of our  ...  view the full minutes text for item 31/23


WRS Annual Service Plan 2024/2025 pdf icon PDF 174 KB

Additional documents:


The Board were asked to consider the Worcestershire Regulatory Services (WRS) Service Plan 2024/2025.


The Head of WRS introduced the report and in doing so drew Members’ attention to the Recommendations, as detailed on page 31 of the main agenda pack. .


It was detailed to Members that, the Board signed off on the service plan for WRS each year. The process helped to make Members aware of what the service was proposing for the relevant financial year and provided a sign off which some central government bodies liked to see in relation to service delivery plans e.g., the Food Standards Agency.


Officers reported that the plan followed the same pattern of previous years and Members’ attention was drawn to the Executive Summary on page 38 of the main agenda pack to highlight the main points. Last year’s plan was the first which had no pandemic related activity as part of it.


This year’s plan continued to consider the long-standing strategic priorities for local authority regulatory services provided by DBaT, as these provided a framework that allowed WRS to have a golden thread back to the priorities of the six partners and to link to the requirements of the various national bodies that oversaw the work of WRS. 


Whilst we had retained these for this purpose, the focus of this year’s plan remained on the tactical priorities identified in the service’s Strategic Assessment. This piece of work reviewed the full data and intelligence picture, looked at emerging threats and made a number of recommendations as to the areas that need to be addressed, as detailed below:-


·         Supporting a safe and vibrant night-time economy

·         Promoting the responsible sale, breeding, and ownership of dogs

·         Promoting safe and healthy communities

·         Supporting commercial businesses to operate safely and responsibly

·         Supporting industry to operate safely and responsibly


Whilst the last two were best described as business as usual for a regulatory service, the other three were cross cutting in nature and would need to be addressed by various staff within the three teams to deliver outcomes for our communities. The Strategic Assessment would be reviewed during 2024/2025 and Board Members would be updated on the outcome of this during the year.


Again, a range of high-level activities against the 5 tactical priorities were identified within the plan so that Members would be aware of the general focus of the workload. Below this would sit a number of plans, either team based or cross cutting that would be used to drive business activities.



The plan was devised in the face of on-going financial uncertainty with inflation staying high and money being tight across the public sector. Both businesses and households continued to feel the pinch, and this had led in the past to increases in work for regulatory services as businesses may take more risks to survive and households sought to reduce expenditure on what may be essential products.  


Working with businesses and other partners was a key theme for both generating income to mitigate  ...  view the full minutes text for item 32/23


Activity and Performance Data Quarter 3 2023/4 pdf icon PDF 130 KB

Additional documents:


The Technical Services Manager, Worcestershire Regulatory Services (WRS) presented the Activity and Performance Data for Quarter 3 – 2023/2024; and in doing so drew Members’ attention to the recommendation, as detailed on page 73 of the main agenda pack. The following key points were highlighted: -


Activity Data

The number of dog control cases recorded by WRS during the year to date was 37% higher than in 2021-22, but only 12% above 2022-23 levels. Approximately 89% of cases related to stray or lost dogs, with most of these cases relating to "contained strays" (dogs found and held by members of the public).

The number of food safety cases recorded by WRS during the year to date was 33% lower than in 2021-22, but only 8% lower than 2022-23. Many of the food safety cases logged were enquiries such as requests for business advice or requests for export health certificates.

Of the 1,120 interventions conducted at businesses included in the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme (FHRS) during the year to date, 37 were rated as non-compliant (0, 1 or 2).

Licensing application numbers during Quarter 3 appeared to remain on trend, whereas there was another slight increase in complaints and enquiries


Quarter 3 was another more limited reporting period. The non-business customer measure at 60.7%, was slightly lower than at the same point in 2021/2 (62.5%,) but higher than the same point last year (57.9%.). Numbers who felt better equipped to deal with future issues at 55.7% was slightly higher than at the same point in the previous 2 years.

Business customer satisfaction had fallen again this quarter to 92%. Team Managers had been asked to investigate this as there was no obvious reason for this beyond having a number of disputed food hygiene ratings.

Overall numbers of compliant and non-compliant food businesses were at 98.5% and 1.5% respectively. This remained good and on a par with previous years.

The ratio of compliments to complaints remains good at 77 to 19.

Staff sickness had increased from 1.42 days per FTE to 1.89 days per FTE cumulative for the year.This was less than the level at the same point in the previous 2 years.

The Head of WRS, responded to questions from Members with regards to customer satisfaction and in doing so commented that during the summer, statutory nuisance and noise nuisance complaints increase significantly and it can be difficult to deal with. Plus, public expectation does not always meet with the requirements of the law, so not everyone was happy with the outcome of noise nuisance complaints.

RESOLVED that the Activity and Performance Data Quarter 3 – 2023/2024, be noted and that Members use the contents of the report in their own reporting back to their respective partner authority.





Progress Report on the Automation Project pdf icon PDF 93 KB


The Technical Services Manager, Worcestershire Regulatory Services provided Members with an on the Automation Project.




Testing and evaluation of forms continued, and officers were now content that the TENs (Temporary Event Notice) form was ready to be rolled out. Officers had nearly fully exhausted second stage testing with just some planned stakeholder testing with some Board Members and the six Chairs of Licensing Committee arranged for the end of February/early March. Officers were confident that any changes recommended at this stage would be minor amendments that should not delay the roll out.




There had unfortunately been another delay by IDOX in implementing the connector, but officers continued to use a workaround for testing. This implementation was now scheduled for the end of February 2024 and would be in place prior to testing with Members, so that end to end testing could be achieved.




The connector issue had not interfered with any of the financial testing and officers had a high level of confidence in the process, so Members can be confident that monies were transferring correctly and to the correct district codes. This had now been in checked in both the ‘test’ and ‘live’ system.




Officers had been checking the Licensing Act forms and Animal Licensing Forms with a view to put together similar guidance for applicants as the TENs form, due to the positive feedback received. These would also now move into testing. A task and finish group had been set up consisting of officers across the different teams in WRS to scope out the ‘Service Request’ form. This form would enable applicants to send in enquiries to the service without having to email or telephone the duty officers and wait on the telephone. It was probably one of our more difficult jobs to scope as it needed to address a very wide range of potential requests relating to the work of all three WRS sections.


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 had progressed with work on the dashboard implementation and now awaited the implementation of the connector from IDOX to continue through to completion.


The Technical Services Manager, WRS commented that he was hoping to bring a far more comprehensive update on the project to the next meeting of the Board.


A brief discussion took place on future updates to the Board and if they were necessary at every meeting of the Board.  It was decided that updates would continue to be provided to future Board meetings.


The Technical Services Manager, WRS further responded to questions with regards to the IT system and in doing so explained that; the Victoria Forms product was an ‘off the shelf’ package to provide the template of forms used.  However, the system had to be unique to WRS, since WRS worked for 6 different partner authorities.  The IT system sat  ...  view the full minutes text for item 34/23


To consider any urgent business, details of which have been notified to the Head of Legal, Democratic and Property Services prior to the commencement of the meeting and which the Chairman, by reason of special circumstances, considers to be of so urgent a nature that it cannot wait until the next meeting


There was no urgent business on this occasion.



To consider, and if considered appropriate, to pass the following resolution to exclude the public from the meeting during the consideration of item of business containing exempt information:-

"RESOLVED: that under Section 100 I of the Local Government Act 1972, as amended, the public be excluded from the meeting during the consideration of the following item of business on the grounds that it involves the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in Part I of Schedule 12A to the Act, as amended, the relevant paragraph of that part, in each case, being as set out below, and that it is in the public interest to do so:-


Item No.








RESOLVED: that under Section 100 I of the Local Government Act 1972, as amended, the public be excluded from the meeting during the consideration of the following item of business on the grounds that it involves the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in Part I of scheme 12A to the Act, as amended, the relevant paragraph of that part, in each case, being as set out below and that it is in the public interest to do so:-


Item No




(exempt Appendix)




Environmental and Planning Enforcement Business Case pdf icon PDF 150 KB

Additional documents:


The Head of Worcestershire Regulatory Services (WRS) took the opportunity to thank the Technical Services Manager, WRS for all his hard work on the Environmental and Planning Enforcement Business Case.


The Technical Services Manager, WRS presented the report and drew Members’ attention to the Recommendations as detailed on page 3 of the supplementary agenda pack.


The recommendation would see an increase in the WRS budget of £470,625, with Bromsgrove District Council’s contribution increasing by £326,128 and Redditch Borough Council’s by £144,497.


The Technical Services Officer, WRS explained that, during 2021 WRS were asked to assist Bromsgrove District and Redditch Borough Councils, planning colleagues with evidence gathering for allegations of planning breaches. On the back of this, wider support was provided for planning enforcement, enviro-crime and wider enforcement functions through training, mentoring, intelligence analysis and reporting, as well as undertaking the enforcement work.

This had increased and as such the majority of planning enforcement work in Bromsgrove and Redditch was currently being delivered by WRS under a service level agreement, fully funded by these two partners.

Wyre Forest District Council colleagues had also provided support to the Bromsgrove and Redditch Enviro-crime services during this time.

Whilst initially expressing an interest in the early stages of the review latterly, the relevant managers at Wyre Forest District Council confirmed their intent to explore alternative in-house options of development. Hence, subsequent iterations of the business case omitted their service areas and focused on Bromsgrove and Redditch services only.

A Strategic Outline Business Case was prepared, as detailed on the exempt Appendix to the report, to explore the benefit in bringing together enforcement functions from Bromsgrove and Redditch Council services with those already within WRS to deliver a quality service to all customers. The intention was to identify where service delivery could be improved through prioritisation, standardisation, and resilience. Weaknesses were identified in the current Bromsgrove and Redditch delivery model and the business case explored possible alternatives.




The Strategic Outline Business Case provided an overview of the enforcement activity across all services of Bromsgrove and Redditch Councils, including shared services. Planning, Environmental Services and Housing Standards all had obvious enforcement functions to consider. The difficulties in maintaining a viable enforcement service for each subject area was discussed and identified that knowledge, skills, and wider supporting mechanisms were in general difficult to provide for isolated teams or individuals. WRS conversely as a larger enforcement team with relevant support functions did not suffer these issues

Four plausible scenarios were considered further: continuing with the existing arrangements; grouping the enforcement roles into one team within the two councils; or alternatively grouping them within WRS; and a fourth scenario with associated call handling also grouped together in WRS. This last option would enable full triaging, together with the ability to resolve at ‘first point of contact’ and was identified as the best option following the cost benefit assessment and risk analysis.


The business case relied on both Redditch and Bromsgrove Councils endorsing this approach. Both the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 37/23