Agenda Item No.

 

SHARED REGULATORY SERVICES JOINT COMMITTEE

 

Minutes of the meeting held on 19th June, 2018.

 

Present

Representing Bridgend County Borough Council – Councillors D. Lewis and Ms. D. Patel;

Representing Cardiff City and County Council – Councillors Ms. N. Mackie and M. Michael;

Representing the Vale of Glamorgan Council – Councillors V.P. Driscoll and  T.H. Jarvie.

 

 

(a)       Appointment of Chairman

 

RESOLVED – T H A T Councillor M. Michael be appointed Chairman for the current Municipal Year.

 

 

(b)       Appointment of Vice-Chairman

 

RESOLVED – T H A T Councillor T.H. Jarvie be appointed Vice-Chairman for the current Municipal Year.

 

 

(c)        Minutes

 

RESOLVED – T H A T the minutes of the meeting held on 27th February, 2018 be approved as a correct record.

 

 

(d)       Declarations of Interest

 

Councillor Ms N.Mackie, declared an interest in respect of Agenda Item 7, Shared Regulatory Services Business Plan 2018-2019. The nature of the interest was that Councillor Mackie was a Member of the Port Health Authority Association.   Councillor Mackie remained at the meeting whilst this Item was being considered.

 

 

(e)       Draft Shared Regulatory Services Statement of Accounts 2017/18 (DEH) –

The draft unaudited Statement of Accounts for 2017/18 for the Shared Regulatory Services (SRS) was tabled at the meeting for the Joint Committee’s consideration.  It was noted that for 2017/18 there was an underspend of £346k, which was more than was previously predicted.  This was due to income relating to the service becoming the recipient of the Illegal Money Lending Unit Grant during the year. 

 

In addition, the Committee noted that as at 31st March, 2018, the balance of usable reserves held by the SRS was £740k.  Members were informed that 2016/17 was the final year of the Implementation Budget.  Due to circumstances beyond the control of the SRS, two items remained outstanding at the end of 2017/18 in relation to the £102k transferred to the usable reserves in 2016/17.  These items were in respect of the anticipated actuarial costs of setting up the SRS as a separate employer within the Cardiff and Vale Pension Fund, plus the outstanding partially completed IT consultancy work.  It was noted that the costs of which were reflected in the £56k retained in the usable reserves with expenditure to be incurred during 2018/19. 

 

Committee was informed that following the completion of the audit of the accounts, the Joint Working Agreement required the Sec. 151 officers from the three authorities to agree how the underspend should be dealt with.  The options would be to either place the sum into the reserves for the Joint Committee or to refund each authority their proportion of the underspend.  This proposal would be reported to the next meeting of the Committee

 

Having considered the draft unaudited Statement of Accounts for 2017/18, it was subsequently

 

RESOLVED – T H A T the Shared Regulatory Services draft unaudited Statement of Accounts for 2017/18 be approved.

 

Reason for decision

 

Following consideration of the draft unaudited Statement of Accounts for 2017/18.

 

 

(f)        Shared Regulatory Services Business Plan 2018-2019 (DEH)

 

The Operational Manager – Enterprise and Specialist Services presented the report, the purpose of which was to ask for approval for the Shared Regulatory Services (SRS)  2018-19 Business Plan. 

 

The purpose of the Business Plan, was specified within the Joint Working Agreement (JWA) which was to update information contained in the previous Business Plan, and to identify proposals for service activities, business and financial objectives, efficiency targets, business continuity planning, risk management, indicative staffing levels and changes, performance targets, costs and income for the current financial year.  The JWA further specified that a draft Business Plan should be submitted to the Joint Committee for approval and, once approved, circulated to each participant Authority’s Proper Officer.

 

The Operational Manager stated that the draft SRS Business Plan had a “golden thread” or “line of sight” to the corporate priorities of the respective Councils.  The strategic themes of the SRS identified the areas of work that were delivered in support of these corporate priorities. 

 

The draft Plan had been developed through consultation with SRS officers and discussions with different stakeholders.  There was broad support for continued use of the existing strategic priorities which were: 

  • Improving health and wellbeing
  • Safeguarding the vulnerable
  • Protecting the local environment
  • Supporting the local economy
  • Maximising the use of resources. 

The Plan, attached at Appendix A to the report, set out the full range of services provided by the SRS under the embedded operational arrangements, an indication of the activities planned for the 2018/19 period, the financial projections for the year and a review of performance for 2017/18. 

 

The Joint Committee also received a brief presentation from the Team Manager (Industry) on the work and impact of the SRS’s Industry Team.  This included makeup and remit of the team, overview of the work as a Primary Authority, the types of training provided and the sort of paid services that were to be launched during 2018/19. 

 

The Team Manager outlined that the Industry Team had a unique mix, which included 4 Environmental Health Officers for Food Safety, 2 Environmental Health Officers for Health & Safety which was equivalent to one full-time equivalent staff, 4 Trading Standards Officers and 2 Business Engagement Officers.  The Team Manager advised that the remit of the Team was to manage queries and support business which included Manufactures and Importers of Non-retail items, coordinators of major events such as the Champions League final and businesses of discrete specialisms, for example approved premises and petroleum.

 

The key aim of the Team was around ‘building the infrastructure’.  This was carried out by the Team having a lead role in business engagement, paid for services and oversight for the role of Primary Authority.  The key activities were: 

  • To engage with Economic Development Partners, Business Wales and other stakeholders/partners;
  • Work with local authorities in England to provide assured advice on wales only devolved matters, such as Food Law;
  • Provide bespoke training and paid for advice visits; and
  • Service promotion, grant funding bids. 

In respect of the Service’s role as Primary Authority, the Team Manager advised that there was a broad range of businesses supported.  This ranged from large national retailers to smaller local businesses.  The Team Manager then provided examples of 3 companies that had received advice and support.

 

Further to the role of Primary Authority, the Team Manager advised that the process around this had been built up over a long period.  The SRS had participated in the national pilot on ‘How to engage with Business’, which had been successful, with the SRS being the first to have a ‘Devolved Matter’ Primary Authority Partnership.  In addition, the SRS had been recognised as a national strategic provider and had 22 of the 30 partnerships across the whole of Wales.  The Team Manager advised that the role of Primary Authority was important as it allowed the SRS and businesses to work together in new ways and allowed the SRS to better recover some of its costs.

 

The Team Manager also outlined that the SRS provided training in the areas of Environmental Health and Trading Standards.  In addition, the SRS was looking at other paid services that could be provided to business, with a number of launches scheduled for 2018/19 including Trading Standards – Buy with Confidence and accredited HACCP training for Food Business.

 

Finally, the Team Manager provided an overview of the engagement work undertaken by the Industry Team and also in relation to the positive feedback following a food safety event held during 2017.

 

A Committee Member, in referring to the section of the Plan in relation to key services offered, stated that it was not clear which services were purchased by each individual Local Authority.  In reply, the Head of Service stated that this could be addressed.

 

RESOLVED –

 

(1)       T H A T the contents of the Shared Regulatory Services 2018-19 Business Plan be approved.

 

(2)       T H A T the Head of Shared Regulatory Services be authorised to make administrative amendments to the 2018/19 Business Plan should the need arise.

 

Reasons for decisions

 

(1)       The Joint Working Agreement specifies (at Clause 14) the each year the head of Regulatory Services will develop a draft Business Plan under the direction of the Management Board.

 

(2)       The purpose of the Business Plan, specified by the Joint Working Agreement, is to update the information contained in the previous Business Plan, and to identify proposals for service activities, business and financial objectives, efficiency targets, business continuity planning, risk management, indicative staffing levels and changes, performance targets, costs and income.   

 

(3)       The Joint Working Agreement further specifies that the draft Business Plan is submitted to the Joint Committee for approval, and circulated to each participant Authority’s Proper Officer.

 

 

(g)       Shared Regulatory Services Annual Report 2017/18 (DEH)

 

The Head of Service presented the report which provided an update on the performance and financial position of the Shared Regulatory Service (SRS) for 2017/18. 

 

Under the Joint Working Agreement (JWA), there was a requirement for the SRS to produce an Annual Report that covered the operational and financial performance of the service for the preceding year. 

 

This was the third Report produced under this requirement and covered the period 1st April, 2017 to 31st March, 2018.  This third Annual Report outlined many of the actions undertaken to embed the SRS arrangements into the day to day functioning of each partner Council and the continued deliver of the wide range of statutory functions assigned to the service.  The Report also provided a review of operations across the service, a summary of the financial position and outlined performance against the 2017/18 service objectives.

 

The SRS operated across Bridgend, Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan.  The SRS delivered a range of statutory services, critical to maintaining the health, safety and economic wellbeing of local communities, through a collaborative model.  The operating model delivered an integrated service for the Trading Standards, Environmental Health and Licensing functions, which had three service delivery sectors focusing upon the customer rather than the traditional professional delivery model. 

  • Neighbourhood Services: activities relating to residential premises or having an impact on the local community;
  • Commercial Services: activities relating to business premises (generally where national standards apply);
  • Enterprise and Specialist Services: specialist areas of work and income generating services. 

As a regional organisation, providing regulatory services across three Local Authority areas, the SRS sought to ensure that the corporate priorities and stated outcomes of the three Councils were at the heart of all its activities.  Using them as a focus, the strategic priorities for the Shared Regulatory Service: 

  • Safeguarding the Vulnerable;
  • Improving Health and wellbeing;
  • Protecting the Environment;
  • Supporting the local economy;
  • Maximising the use of resources 

It was noted that these provided a robust base for achieving the outcomes identified in the 2018/19 Business Plan and the partner Councils' corporate aspirations.

 

The JWA, executed in April 2015, and updated in July 2017, underpinned the entire service provision.  The JWA contained a number of "milestones and requirements".  In accordance with those requirements: 

  • The Wales Audit Office completed an independent financial audit of the service in September 2017, there were no recommendations for improvement; 
  • The service set its budget in December 2017 for the 2018/19 period, along with a financial projection for the following two years setting out a budget reduction of 5% p.a. for the next three years;
  • The Business Plan for 2018/19 was presented for political approval in other papers to the June 2018 Committee, following consultation with stakeholders;
  • The Annual Report was presented for consideration by the Joint Committee;
  • The Joint Committee would receive an audited statement of accounts in September 2018. 

The 2016/17 Annual report highlighted the following items as the principal challenges for the service: 

  • Delivery of the SRS Business Plan 2017-2018;
  • Implementation of the SRS Workforce Plan;
  • A review of the partnership, governance and scrutiny arrangements for the SRS;
  • A review of the JWA;
  • Delivery of the identified budget contribution reductions for partners;
  • Refinement of the fee-generating activities approach to better understand the SRS cost base; 
  • Exploration of new ways of generating income for the service and future savings;
  • Continue the process of channel shift by increasing the customer’s ability to use self-help and undertake transactions online;
  • Continue to harmonise working practices across the region, ensuring an effective, improved delivery and achievement of key performance indicators. 

In terms of Human Resources, the Head of Service advised that throughout 2017/18, filling vacancies had continued to be a challenge and the SRS had struggled to recruit suitable individuals into the service.  However, the service’s programme of “growing its own” officers, particularly in the food and trading standards disciplines, had seen a number of individuals achieve higher accreditation levels which allowed them to undertake a wider range of inspections.  Additionally, the service had continued to run the core competency programme in regulatory professional practice.  This training had been fundamental in ensuring that officers were equipped to deal with regulatory breaches competently and effectively.

 

All officers underwent a Personal Development Review (PDR) process last year and this was fed into a personal training plan for each officer which formed part of the new workforce development plan for the service.

 

In terms of sickness, the Head of Service stated that sickness absence levels for 2017/18 were 6.89 days per FTE staff member.  This was an increase on the previous year where absence rates were recorded as 5.39 per FTE staff member.  It was advised that there were mitigating factors with a number of staff undergoing planned medical interventions.  The increase, however, compared favourably when viewed in a wider context through comparison against the average sickness rates across the partner Councils.

 

The Committee was also advised that during January 2018 the SRS Employee Survey was undertaken.  The timing of the survey followed communications on proposed budget cuts to the service.  The survey was distributed electronically to all staff and achieved an approximate response rate of 77%.  Officers were asked to rate their satisfaction with aspects of the service and their employment conditions.  The survey contained 44 questions and officers were asked to indicate how much they agreed or disagreed with a statement.  30 out of the 44 statements (68.18%) achieved very good to excellent results.  13 out of the 44 statements (29.54%) achieved good results with only one statement (2.27%) achieved a very poor result.  This related to opportunities to progress within the service.  A plan was now in place to address this outstanding concern.

 

In terms of the operational performance for the SRS, the Head of Service stated that the SRS for all but one of the indicators had achieved or exceeded performance targets.  The only indicator with a Red RAG status related to the number of significant breaches that were rectified by intervention of Trading Standards during the year.  It was noted that 8 investigations remained outstanding for Trading Standards.  This was due to the nature of this measure where ongoing investigations could often be lengthy and complex which had yet to be concluded.  The investigations however were within timescales of associated legislation. 

 

The report also outlined a number of achievements worthy of note during 2017/18 which demonstrated progress towards delivering the outcomes associated with the SRS priorities.  These were detailed between paragraphs 32 and 60 of the report. 

 

With regard to financial performance, it was reported that the service had achieved an overall underspend of £346k against the gross revenue budget of £8.830m.  For the core services, the approved gross budget for 2017/18 was £6.252m which showed a provisional underspend of £426k.  For Authority specific services, the approved gross budget of £2.578m was projecting a provisional overspend of £80k. 

 

Finally, the Head of Service related to challenges facing the SRS.  Over the last three years, the SRS had consolidated service delivery in accord with the agreed standards, the requisite financial savings had been delivered in Year 3, but more demands were being placed upon the service at a time of reducing resources.  In the next three years, the service’s principal challenge was to continue to deliver high quality services and to help its partners manage their respective financial pressures. The Key Milestones for 2018/19 included: 

  • Delivery of the SRS Business Plan 2018/19;
  • A review of the organisational structure for the SRS to meet the budget savings set out for 2019/20 and 2020/21;
  • Consequently, to implement the financial savings agreed for the delivery of the SRS for the period 2018 – 2020;
  • As with any law enforcement agency, new legislation and new policy developments continued to place greater responsibilities upon the service; and with those responsibilities greater expectations.  The likely consequences arising from the Grenfell disaster, changes to the Public Health regime, the increased exploitation of vulnerable people, the challenges of improving air quality, the increase in the number of major commercial events could not be underestimated.  The need to have a competent core of officers ready to meet this challenge at a time of reducing budgets could not be understated.  Delivering more with less meant that the SRS needed to undertake a degree of future proofing to meet the partner Councils’ statutory responsibilities. Anything less represented a real risk for the health and well-being of those living, working and visiting the region. 

Having considered the report, it was

 

RESOLVED – T H A T the Shared Regulatory Services Annual Report for 2017/18 be approved with authorisation being given to the Managing Director, Vale of Glamorgan Council, to forward a copy of the report to the Heads of Paid Service for the other partner Councils.

 

Reason for decision

 

To meet the requirements set out in Clause 5.1 of the Joint Working Agreement.

 

 

(h)       Health and Safety Enforcement Service Plan 2018/19 (DEH)

 

The Operational Manager – Neighbourhood Services  presented the report the purpose of which was to seek approval for the Health and Safety Enforcement Plan for the Shared Regulatory Service (SRS) for 2018/19.

 

The SRS, covering the areas of Bridgend, Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan, together with the Health and Safety Executive, was responsible for the enforcement of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 (the Act).

 

Section 18 of the Act required Local Authorities to produce a Health and Safety Service Plan setting out the arrangements in place to discharge these duties.  A copy of the draft Health and safety Enforcement Service Plan was attached at Appendix 1 to the report. The Service Plan detailed the aims and objectives of the service in respect of health and safety enforcement, were determined annually.  The Plan detailed: 

  • The demands on the service;
  • The risk based work programme; and
  • The resources available to deliver the required work. 

The Plan explained the Health and Safety Executive’s expectations of Local Authorities, some of the achievements in 2017/18 and the challenges for the year ahead.

 

It was reported that the SRS had approximately 9,245 premises that required a range of health and safety interventions such as inspection, survey, monitoring, advice and enforcement.   Furthermore, Cardiff as the Capital City of Wales attracted numerous outdoor events across a wide range of venues within the city.  As entertainment and cultural activities were within Local Authority enforcement, the enforcement of health and safety requirements in the majority of these events fell to the Health and Safety Service.

 

In outlining some of the key activity undertaken during 2017/18, the Committee noted the following: 

  • 575 businesses that were targeted for proactive health and safety interventions;
  • Beverage gas safety in the hospitality sector;
  • Inspection of residential care homes;
  • Visiting golf clubs;
  • A duty to manage asbestos. 

Councillor Mackie of Cardiff Council commented on the relatively low number of prosecutions, which was indicated within the Health and Safety Service Plan as 2 businesses prosecuted since 2014.  This was in comparison to a lot more businesses receiving prohibition notices.  In reply, the Head of Service stated that there would not normally be many prosecutions in the area of Health and Safety as the issues that the service was dealing with related to breaches such as checking for asbestos, unsafe operating procedures, etc. and not the accidents or fatalities that HSE might investigate.   The Head of Service offered reassurance that where it was deemed necessary, the service would seek to prosecute, but in many instances the service would take the view that is was better to address issues through training and promoting a positive health and safety ethos.

 

Following consideration of the Health and Safety Service Plan, it was

 

RESOLVED –

 

(1)       T H A T the Health and Safety Enforcement Service Plan for 2018/19 be approved.

 

(2)       T H A T the Head of Shared Regulatory Services be authorised to make administrative amendments to the 2018/19 Health and Safety Enforcement Service Plan should the need arise.

 

Reason for decisions

 

(1&2)  To ensure that the Shared Regulatory Service had robust arrangements in place to deliver its obligations as an enforcing authority under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and to comply with statutory guidance.

 

 

(i)         Harmonisation of Fireworks Licensing Conditions (DEH)

 

The Head of Service presented the report, the purpose of which was to seek approval for the introduction of common conditions for fireworks in order to achieve harmonisation across the Shared Regulatory Services (SRS) region and to ensure that conditions remained fit for purpose and reflected best practice going forward.

 

The report advised that the storage of fireworks and associated activities were controlled by the Explosives Regulations 2014.  The Regulations were made under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.  The Regulations identified Local Authorities as the competent authority to licence premises to store fireworks.  That licensing function had been assigned to the Joint Committee under the Joint Working Agreement.

 

The licence conditions prevailing in each of the three Local Authority areas upon the creation of the Shared Service in 2015 had continued to operate since that time.  This meant that three sets of licence conditions applied, depending on the location of the premises.

 

It was noted that the three sets of conditions were not greatly different from each other as they should be based on national best practice standards.  However, the current arrangements required enforcement officers and licensing staff to ensure on every occasion that a licence was being granted under the specific set of conditions pertaining to a particular location. 

 

This gave rise to confusion among businesses, particularly those trading indifferent locations across the SRS region.  Harmonisation of fireworks licensing by the creation of a single set of conditions for the region would result in greater efficiency for SRS officers and greater certainty for businesses, particularly those with a presence in more than one of the SRS Local Authority areas. 

 

The proposed harmonised conditions were set out in Appendix 1 to the report, with the existing conditions in Bridgend, Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan set out in Appendices 2, 3 and 4 respectively.

 

Given the minor, harmonising nature of the proposed changes, it was not thought necessary to go out to formal consultation with the trade; however licensees would be made aware of the changes well ahead of their taking effect in September 2018.

 

Having considered the request, it was

 

RESOLVED –

 

(1)       T H A T the contents of the report be noted and the minor amendments proposed to achieve harmonisation of fireworks licence conditions across the Shared Regulatory Services region be approved.

 

(2)       T H A T the Head of Shared Regulatory Services be authorised to make any further amendments that may prove necessary over time, to fireworks licence conditions.

 

Reasons for decisions

 

(1)       Harmonisation of licence requirements into a single, SRS-wide set of conditions would ensure greater efficiency for enforcement and licensing staff and greater certainty and clarity for the businesses concerned.

 

(2)       Authorisation for the Head of Shared Regulatory Services to make minor amendments as the need arises would enable changes in licensing best practice to be reflected promptly, without the need to bring repeated reports to the Joint Committee.