The Board considered a report which detailed the Worcestershire Regulatory Services (WRS) Annual Report 2018/2019. The report covered the performance of the service for the period 1st April 2018 to 31st March 2019.
The Head of Regulatory Services informed the Board that under the Shared Services Partnership Service Level Agreement (SLA) the Board was required to receive the annual report at its annual meeting.
The Head of Regulatory Services further informed Members that the report covered the performance of the service for that period, both in terms of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and highlights of activity, with a short summary activity report, as detailed at Appendix 5 to the report. Appendix 5 to the report had been reduced since the Board now received a separate Activity and Performance Data report which provided more detail. Some detail of the performance indicators were also covered in the Activity and Performance Data report.
Generally performance had remained good. Food business compliance rates remained high. Taxi license renewals were dealt with in a reasonable time in the main. The taxi fleet appeared to be generally in good order, although the results from enforcement exercises suggested that some drivers / operators needed to improve in terms of maintaining vehicles.
Complaints against the service were significantly exceeded by compliments. It was understood that the main issue for complaints were related to either paying for the cost of stray dog recovery or the fact that WRS could not resolve an issue that was causing annoyance to a resident due to the law on nuisances. The latter appeared to be the main cause in the fall in customer satisfaction. Interestingly, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) most recent survey of the public in relation to attitudes to noise had detected a statistically significant drop in people’s tolerance of noise. This was something that WRS had seen anecdotally at local level and had reported to Board Members previously.
The indicators for licensed premises and noise complaints had been in place long enough now in order to establish good base-lines. The former showed that generally licensed premises in the County were well managed. The figures could now be used, along with intelligence, to focus enforcement resources in a proactive way to tackle any individual problem premises, although these were few and far between.
Most complaints related to minor nuisance issues, usually created when a venue introduced a novel activity like live music to diversify its activities. The rate of noise complaints was relatively low and probably reflective of the general environment in Worcestershire.
The Annual Report also provided a summary of the financial position, the key achievements and covered issues with regard to human resources; plus sections on risk management and equalities.
The Head of Regulatory Services and the Technical Services Manager, WRS, responded to questions from Members with regard to potential growth of the service and noise reporting.
The Head of Regulatory Services informed Members that the Technical Services team were the main income generators within the service and that further income generation was something that could be considered. Previous Board Members had expressed an interest in Business Planning and that was something that he was keen to arrange; a slightly more informal event for Board Members during September / October 2019.
With regard to noise reporting, the Technical Services Manager, WRS, stated that there were dedicated front line staff and also self-help pages on the WRS website, which helped to make the service more cost effective. The issues were mainly domestic noise issues and not a statutory nuisance. If noise issues could not be resolved complainants were referred to (back-office) staff in order to try and resolve any noise issues.
The Head of Regulatory Services referred to The Members’ Eye newsletter that was circulated to Board Members during 2018, which had provided a useful guide for Members on Statutory Nuisance. He further informed Members that he would ensure that a copy was circulated to all current Board Members for information.
In response to a further questions raised, the Head of Regulatory Services advised that the self-help process had removed a lot of early wins with regard to noise nuisance that had been resolved, hence a natural downfall. However, going forward, he and his management team would look to work more closely with colleagues at the partner authorities who may have other tools available to deal with issues, citing the Community Protection Notices available under the Anti-social Behaviour and Policing Act 2014 as an example of a measure that may help.
With regard to food premises scoring 2 or below on the ‘Scores on the doors’ food hygiene / food safety initiative, some of the issues were down to allergen awareness; with some management / staff not having sufficient understanding / knowledge of food allergens. This would have been rectified as part of the visit process but businesses would need to be re-scored later.
The Vice-Chairman thanked the Head of Regulatory Services, with some Members commenting that the results were good and that the service was an excellent service and that they could see the benefits of the service.
(a) that the Worcestershire Regulatory Services Annual Report 2018/2019 be noted; and
(b) that a copy of the Worcestershire Regulatory Services Annual Report 2018/2019 be forwarded to the Chief Executive, Managing Director and Members of the six partner authorities.