Agenda item - Worcestershire Regulatory Services Service Plan 2019/2020

Agenda item

Worcestershire Regulatory Services Service Plan 2019/2020


The Board was asked to consider and approve the Worcestershire Regulatory Services (WRS) Service Plan 2019/2020.


The Head of Regulatory Services presented the report and in doing so informed Members that the Service Plan, as in previous years, enabled Members to be aware of what the service was proposing for the relevant financial year and provided a sign off that some central government bodies liked to see in relation to service delivery plans, e.g. the Food Standards Agency.


The Service Plan followed a similar pattern as per previous years, but now included an Executive Summary to pick up the main points.  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, as these provided a framework that allowed WRS to have a golden thread back to the priorities of partner authorities and also to link to the requirements of the various national bodies that oversee the work of WRS.


As with the previous year, more detail was now provided in relation to the Food Hygiene work of the service.  This was in order to meet one of the recommendations made by the auditors from the Food Standards Agency during their visit in 2017.  They were keen that Members had a better understanding of the demand in this service area when they authorised the service plan for 2019/2020 and future years.


Therefore Members of the Board were particularly being asked to note the proposed number of inspections and similar activities proposed for the new financial year, that would be undertaken to discharge the statutory duties of the six partner authorities with regard to food control.


Councillor E. Stokes, Wychavon District Council, expressed her concerns with regard to the potential impact that Brexit could have on the service.  There was no contingency in the budget should the service need to overcome any potential regulatory barriers, should there be any.


The Head of Regulatory Services responded and stated that the regulatory impact of Brexit on the overall regulatory framework for the United Kingdom (UK) was dependant on the future relationship that the UK sought with the European Union (EU).  UK legislation was largely compliant with the requirements of the EU.  There was a risk for those who imported / exported to the EU and potentially a lot more barriers for them to overcome.  There was a limited impact at district with more issues to overcome at county level.


Councillor J. Squires, Worcester City Council, commented that it was always good to see the WRS Service Plan.  However, she was interested in seeing additional input from Board Members.  Councillor J. Squires further suggested the possibility of holding an away day for officers and Members in order to look at and discuss future service plans and to look at the internal Strategic Assessment document.


The Head of Regulatory Services stated that he was more than happy to hold an away day in order to engage with Members for their participation and input into future service plans.  The Strategic Assessment document was an internal document that contained sensitive business information, but he was happy to redact any such information so that Members could have sight of the document. 


The Chairman commented that Councillor J. Squires had made an excellent suggestion and was in agreement with the suggestions made.


In response to Councillor M. King, Wychavon District Council, the Head of Regulatory Services, explained that the budget, as agreed by the Board, was still being operated on the assumption of a cash standstill budget.  As discussed earlier, there was a reserve of £173k, so a contingency was available should things start to become difficult and the service started to struggle.  Further discussions with partner authorities would take place if and when this became necessary.  Most partner authorities’ only factored in increases for salaries in their budgets, not the general inflation that would apply to other aspects of revenue requirements.


In response to the Chairman, with regard to the ‘Operating Environment’ as detailed on page 24 of the main agenda pack; ‘that the public were less likely to accept the views of officers as an independent view’. The Environmental Health and Trading Standards Manager, WRS, explained that officers had had to emphasise to residents that they were neutral, but there was a perception by the public that officers could and should do more.  As a result of this unnecessary issues had been escalated to senior officers and Members.  In response to this, WRS had enhanced their website to provide more detailed information to the public in order to address current public perception of the service.



(a)  that the Worcestershire Regulatory Services Service Plan 2019/2020 be approved; and


(b)  that Members of the Board specifically note the level of work to be undertaken by the service this year in relation to the partners’ roles as local food authorities.

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