Up to 30 minutes is allowed for this item; no longer than 10 minutes for presentation of the report and then up to 3 minutes for each question to be put and answered.
A request was made and accepted to allow questions to be asked as the report was presented page by page. Councillor P. Whittaker, the Portfolio Holder for Leisure and Cultural Services, Community Services and Worcestershire Regulatory Services, was happy to do this and advised Members that he was not proposing to give a lengthy introduction to his detailed report and if he was unable to answer any questions would be happy to respond outside of the meeting.
Before presenting his annual report Councillor Whittaker provided Members with an update in respect of the Sports Hall. He advised that there had been a number of occasions of trespass and vandalism on the site therefore officers undertook a full health, safety and security assessment last Friday (22nd February 2019). During this review some issues relating to security and health and safety were identified and officers recommended closure of the site to ensure the safety of all users and staff. The issues included limited lighting provision, water ingress and damage to exit and access arrangements. Officers had commenced a programme of installing additional security fencing and hoarding to ensure access to the site was restricted.
It was confirmed that whilst the current casual users of the Sports hall had been contacted by Everyone Active, officers had also asked for a contact list so that they could be contacted to understand their current position. Councillor Whittaker was also able to confirm that in respect of the use of the Sports hall at North Bromsgrove High School, the signed Heads of Terms were with BAM for their sign off and the final contract was also with their legal team.
Councillor P. McDonald asked a question in respect of the new food businesses as detailed on page 35 of the agenda pack. He asked what the procedure was when people moved in to new premises. He was aware that this had happened and if a number of residents had not alerted Worcestershire Regulatory Services (WRS) they would have been unaware of the business. He was particularly concerned that there may be other businesses that did not meet the legal requirements for food businesses which were operating without WRS’s knowledge.
Following discussion, Councillor Whittaker agreed to take this matter up with WRS to get a clear picture of the process in place and to ensure that if there was a gap in that process it would be addressed. Councillor Whittaker agreed to provide Councillor McDonald with the outcome of his findings outside of the meeting.
Councillor Hotham also raised a question in respect of page 35 and the number of premises rated at Level 2 or less in respect of Food Hygiene and what actions were taken to support improvement at these premises. Councillor Whittaker advised that the “scores on the doors” system had been introduced some time ago and aimed to provide users with the information in respect of premises. Those premises wishing to make improvements would be supported by WRS officers and where there were particularly low rating targeted inspections would be made if appropriate.
Councillor Whittaker confirmed to Members that he had been involved in the writing of the report with the support of a number of officers. A number of Members disputed the statement on page 37 which referenced the revocation of the Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) on the Kidderminster Road, Hagley. It was believed that the levels were in fact rising further and that the way in which the monitoring had been carried out was not accurate. Councillor Whittaker assured Members that the monitoring carried out was in line with DEFRA guidelines and met the necessary requirements. There was disappointment expressed that this section of the report did not provide more around a subject which was of such importance and was seen as the biggest threat. It was also noted that consideration was being given to a further AQMA in Wychbold and it was confirmed that whilst this was on the border of the District, the AQMA would be under the jurisdiction of Wychavon District Council. Councillor R. Laight, as the Chairman of the WRS Joint Board, assured Members that air quality was something which he brought up with officers at regular intervals as he appreciated that it was of concern to both Members and many residents. Regular reports were also received by the Joint Board in respect of this matter and he would continue to be proactive in any way he could to ensure that it remained on the agenda.
On page 38 of the report, reference was made to MATES, a form of multi-agency working which had been used by Licensing Officers and the Police. Members asked what this stood for and Councillor Whittaker agreed to confirm this outside of the meeting.
In respect of the Health and Physical Activity (Sports Development) section of the report Members raised a number of points, including that Bromsgrove showed a higher than average level of excess weight in adults and what actions were being taken to address this. Reference was made to the closure of the Sports Hall and its impact on the groups using it, for example the Over 50’s badminton, whilst it was suggested that there were facilities in Barnt Green, this was not considered to be a suitable alternative. Sponsorship of roundabouts and “street furniture” was also discussed and whether this was appropriate. Councillor Whittaker responded that he understood that this was subject to planning permission in some cases.
The Chairman reminded Members that there was a thirty minute time limit on this item and Councillor Whittaker advised Members that he was happy to take any further questions outside of the meeting if Members wished to contact him directly.