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Agenda Item No

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Cabinet Meeting - 21 September 2011

Report of the Cabinet Member for Legal and Public Protection

Lead Officer Animal Feeding Stuffs Enforcement - Shared Service Arrangement with Rhondda Cynon Taff County Borough Council

 

Purpose of the Report

1.             To seek Cabinet approval to implement a temporary shared service arrangement for Lead Officer Animal Feeding Stuffs with Rhondda Cynon Taff County Borough Council for an initial period of up to one year. 

Recommendations

1.             THAT Cabinet authorises the Director of Legal, Public Protection and Housing Services to negotiate and enter into a temporary arrangement with Rhondda Cynon Taff County Borough Council to share the position of Lead Officer for Animal Feeding Stuffs for an initial period of up to one year with effect from 1 October 2011.   

 

2.             THAT the Director of Legal, Public Protection and Housing Services uses his delegated powers to authorise a suitably qualified and competent officer employed by Rhondda Cynon Taff County Borough Council to undertake the Lead Officer role for Animal Feeding Stuffs in the Vale of Glamorgan.  

 

Reasons for the Recommendations

1.             To ensure the Council complies with The Feed Law Enforcement Code of Practice (Great Britain) issued under The Official Feed and Food Controls (Wales) Regulations.

 

2.             To ensure the Lead Officer for Animal Feed Stuffs has the necessary authorisation to discharge his duties.

 

Background

2.             Local authorities have a duty to enforce legislation to ensure the safety and composition of non medicated animal feeding stuffs and fertilisers. This work is carried out in the Vale of Glamorgan by Trading Standards staff in conjunction with the work they do on animal health.

3.             In December 2006 the Food Standards Agency published a Feed Law Enforcement Code of Practice which sets out instructions and criteria to which local authorities should take note when enforcing animal feed law.

4.             The Feed Law Enforcement Code of Practice sets out the qualifications and experience that staff are required to possess in order to undertake Feed Law Enforcement duties.  The Code of Practice states that existing officers are expected to obtain the necessary qualifications within 5 years of the Code of Practice coming into force i.e. by 29th December 2011.  As a consequence of staff turnover, officers working on Feed Law Enforcement are currently working towards, but have not yet achieved the necessary qualifications and experience.  Further, it will not be possible for them to achieve the necessary qualifications and experience by 29th December 2011.    

5.              The Feed Law Enforcement Code of Practice requires the Council to identify a Lead Officer for Feed Law Enforcement.  The Lead Officer must be able to demonstrate that they are not just suitably qualified and experienced but competent to carry out the range of tasks and duties they are required to perform.  There is not currently a member of staff within Trading Standards who can meet the competency requirements of the Code of Practice.

Relevant Issues and Options

6.             Local authorities must have regard to the Code of Practice on Feed Law Enforcement when discharging their duties.  If they do not, they may find their decisions and actions successfully challenged and evidence gathered during a criminal investigation inadmissible by a court.  Further, the Food Standards Agency may, after consulting with the Secretary of State and ministers, give a direction requiring local authorities to take steps to comply with the Code. 

7.             The Code of Practice states that officers may be appointed to enforce feed law requirements by more than one authority subject to the necessary authorisations being in place.  It also states that where a local authority's feed law enforcement responsibilities are small i.e. in the number of feed business establishments in their area, the Lead Officer can be a suitably qualified and experienced officer employed by another authority.

8.             An initial approach was made to Bridgend Council to determine whether a shared Lead Officer arrangement for Feed Law Enforcement could be put in place but they were not able to identify a suitably competent member of staff.  Rhondda Cynon Taff Council (RCT) was approached and they have a competent Lead Officer in place.  RCT have agreed, on an interim basis, to share the resource on a cost recovery basis.

9.             It is anticipated that when Vale of Glamorgan Trading Standards staff achieve the necessary qualifications and competencies, subject to any other service reconfigurations or shared service arrangements being put in place, the Lead Officer role will be delivered in house.    

Resource Implications (Financial, Employment and Sustainability)

10.        It is anticipated that the Lead Officer role for Feed Law Enforcement will be delivered as and when required.  RCT has agreed to provide this resource on a cost recovery basis.  All costs will be met from within the existing Trading Standards revenue budget.  

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

11.        Appointment of a suitably competent Lead Officer who is suitably authorised for Feed Law Enforcement will enable the Council to demonstrate its compliance with the Feed Law Enforcement Code of Practice issued under The Official Feed and Food Controls (Wales) Regulations.

Crime and Disorder Implications

12.        There are no crime and disorder implications as a direct result of this report

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

13.        There are no officers currently employed within Trading Standards able to demonstrate the required competencies to carry out the Lead Officer role for Feed Law Enforcement in the Vale of Glamorgan.  Since it is estimated that the duties of the Lead Officer can be delivered in less than one day per week, a shared arrangement with a neighbouring authority has been identified as the most equitable and cost effective way forward in the short to medium term.   

Corporate/Service Objectives

14.        The proposals support the principles enshrined in the Making the Connections agenda.  These are reflected in the context for change which underpins the Council's Corporate Plan.

Policy Framework and Budget

15.        This is a matter for Executive Decision by Cabinet. 

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

16.        There is no requirement to consult on these proposals.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

17.        Housing and Public Protection

Background Papers

Feed Law Enforcement Code of Practice

Contact Officer

Kate Thompson, Principal Regulatory Services Officer - Tel: 01446 709356

Officers Consulted

Richard Price, Legal

Rob Ingram, Finance

Christina Roberts Kinsey, Trading Standards

Alun Billinghurst, Public Protection

Responsible Officer:

Peter Evans

Director of Legal, Public Protection and Housing Services

 

 

 

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