Agenda Item No. 6

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Shared Regulatory Services Joint Committee: 19th December 2017

 

Report of the Director of Environment and Housing

 

Overview and Update on Shared Regulatory Services

 

Purpose of the Report

  1. This report provides an update on the work undertaken by the Shared Regulatory Service (SRS).

Recommendation

  1. The Committee is asked to consider, note and agree the contents of the attached report.

Reason for the Recommendation

  1. The report apprises the Committee of the work of the service and the progress toward completing the implementation programme.

Background

  1. The SRS has a Business Plan that was developed in consultation with stakeholders, which informs and directs the work of the service and contributes toward the corporate priorities of each partner Council. The service has five key aims, namely:
  • Improving health and wellbeing.
  • Safeguarding the vulnerable.
  • Protecting the local environment.
  • Supporting the local economy.
  • Maximising the use of our resources.
  1. This report contains information outlining how the service is working to achieve better outcomes for the residents and businesses within the region through a series of different actions and work programmes. The report provides an overview of actions undertaken in the period September 2017 to November 2017.

Relevant Issues and Options

Human Resources

  1. In the last quarter, Members were provided an indication of attendance levels. In the 2016/17 period, attendance levels were higher than the previous year of 2015/16. The table below shows further improvement in the current year when set against 2016/17 and SRS management are optimistic that the year-end attendance will exceed that of 2016/17. These attendance figures compare favourably with attendance across all three Councils.

Year

    Average FTE

    Days Absent

    Days per FTE

April 2017 to September 2017

180.49

362

2.00

Last year same period -

April 2016 to September 2016

166.81

506

3.03

       
  1. The implementation of the SRS operating model resulted in officers undertaking new roles requiring the broadening of staff skills and the taking on of new and innovative responsibilities to deliver the service. The resourcing of training to develop people within the organisation to ensure competency within their roles and address both the immediate needs and long term goals of the service has been a key priority. The SRS has recently completed a Workforce Development Plan, the major element of which is the framework aligned to our vision and primary aims. The framework is attached as Appendix 1 and seeks to blend:
  • Organisational Culture.
  • Leadership and Management.
  • Core Skills.
  • Recruitment, Retention and Progression.
  • Communication and Employee Engagement.
  • Employee Performance Management.
  1. This framework will provide the foundation for identifying the required behaviours of our officers when dealing with service stakeholders, together with learning and development themes that support business needs. The ultimate goal is to have a business planning framework supported by a workforce plan that drives all SRS development activities and this will continue to be a target for SRS management in 2018.
  • Financial Position Quarter 1
  1. A financial monitoring report for the period 1st July 2017 to 30th September 2017 is attached at Appendix 2 and has been prepared from the consolidated figures gathered from each Authority for this period. The service is projected to overspend by £22k against a gross revenue budget of £8,830m. However, it is considered that this position can be mitigated by the level of income received directly by the authorities.
  • Performance Monitoring
  1. Joint Committee Members have asked the service to provide data on activity levels to help reassure local Members that SRS activity continues to tackle issues across the region. Performance data for 2016/17 is set out at Appendix 3 and is being reported to each Council in line with the legacy performance management regimes and existing service plans.
  2. A presentation on the current performance will be provided at the Joint Committee meeting.
  3. The SRS is receiving an increasing number of FOI requests. Using a conservative estimate of an average of 1 hour to process each request would suggest that some 700 officer hours will be spent this year responding to the requests. This is impacting upon the performance measures for service delivery and SRS management are exploring ways to manage this demand. For example, SRS is seeking to place as much data on the SRS website, moving toward a routine publication online regime which aims to ensure openness and accountability and reduce unnecessary processing of FOI requests. However, queries submitted to the SRS often request information held in a variety of forms and the data has to be processed to provide the necessary information. SRS management will continue to monitor demand and report periodically to the Committee.

Service Updates

  • Attendance at Scrutiny
  1. The SRS has appeared before a number of Scrutiny Committees and task and finish groups in the last quarter. Officers provided advice in Cardiff on the subject of Air Quality; in due course the Scrutiny Committee will provide a report for consideration by the Cabinet at Cardiff. It is possible that Bridgend and the Vale of Glamorgan in any considerations on Air Quality over the next 12 months will use some of the findings of that report.
  2. Officers also appeared before the Vale of Glamorgan Council's Environment and Regeneration Scrutiny Committee to discuss SRS involvement in the ongoing construction of the biomass plant in Barry. While the plant will be regulated by a permit issued by Natural Resources Wales, SRS has been fielding complaints from residents regarding noise and light issues during the construction process.
  3. Officers also attended the Environment and Regeneration Scrutiny Committee at Cardiff to provide information on the work undertaken to monitor taxi provision and the controls in place to ensure the safety of the food chain. The comments of the Committee are set out in Appendix 4 for information, along with the responses from the Cabinet Member and Chair of Licensing at Cardiff Council.
  • Air Quality
  1. The annual Local Air Quality Management Progress Reports for each of Bridgend, Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan have been reported through the respective pathways in each Council and all will have been submitted to the Welsh Government (following endorsement) by the 31st December deadline.
  2. Air Quality remains a high profile issue, featuring in the headlines on an almost daily basis. SRS continues to review monitoring locations in Bridgend and the Vale of Glamorgan and at the same time has been co-ordinating the development of Cardiff Council's Air Quality Strategy ahead of its implementation in April 2018. As highlighted previously, it is possible that a Clean Air Zone will need to be adopted in Cardiff by 2021 which will place an additional strain on SRS resources.
  3. In addition, the requirement to consult local communities on Air Quality matters, which has been placed upon the three Councils by new Welsh Government guidance, will create additional demands on the Service. Resources are being realigned to deal with the extra workload going forward.
  • Safeguarding/Scams
  1. A series of Safeguarding Roadshow events has been scheduled to take place through the year. The first of these took place on the 28th September when the Major Investigations and Safeguarding team took part in the Llantwit Major Emergency Services Day. Resident groups were able to meet the various partners in rotation meaning that there was time to focus in some detail on our awareness raising messages around doorstep crime and mass marketing scams.   
  2. A different approach saw the team making use of the Vibe youth organisation bus based at Kings Square in Barry on the 10th October. This proved a great way to draw the attention of passers-by with scams awareness messages played both inside and outside the vehicle. The team spoke to over 150 people during the day and provided them with no cold calling stickers, key message grab cards and contact details for future contact. As a direct result of meeting residents on the day, Officers have made a vulnerable person referral to Social Services and identified nine residents who would benefit from having a call blocker installed. In addition, a further two residents became registered with the Telephone Preference Service as a means of reducing the impact of nuisance calls.
  3. Plans are underway for a similar event to take place in Bridgend in December and in Cardiff in the early part of 2018.
  • RSPCA Awards
  1. SRS was recognised in three separate categories at this year's RSPCA Cymru Awards. In the first of the categories, SRS received a bronze Community Action Welfare Footprints (CAWF) award for Animal Related Licensing services and in the second category; SRS received a silver CAWF award for our Stray Dog Provision.
  2. While both of these awards are achievements in themselves, SRS was honoured to be the outright winner of the 2017 RSPCA Innovator Award for its work to promote responsible dog and horse ownership within the Gypsy Traveller Community. In gaining the Innovator Award, SRS beat of stiff competition from a range of entries from across the country.
  3. Announcing the Innovator Award, the RSPCA said: "Shared Regulatory Services deserve great credit for their imaginative and effective approach to improving animal welfare standards at Rover Way and Shirenewton. Through proactive engagement, they have led the way in providing key education on dog micro chipping, puppy breeding and other aspects of canine welfare. SRS' work has also started to support vital improvements to equine welfare - reducing instances of tethering, over-breeding and identifying potential welfare risks. RSPCA is proud to recognise SRS with a special Innovator scheme. Award winners are chosen by an independent panel of judges - and they were hugely impressed by the combined efforts of Bridgend, Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan Councils."
  4. A number of Animal Health and Animal Warden staff were delighted to accompany the Chair of the SRS Joint Committee in accepting the awards at Cardiff Bay from Lesley Griffiths AM, Cabinet Secretary for the Environment and Rural Affairs.
  • Primary Authority
  1. The Primary Authority scheme enables a business to enter into a statutory partnership with a local authority through which it can receive assured advice. Provided this advice is followed, the Primary Authority (PA) is able to challenge intended enforcement action by other local authorities. SRS now has some sixteen Primary Authority partnerships in place with both local and national businesses and is able to charge for the work done as part of these arrangements on the basis of full cost recovery.
  2. On the 1st October amendments to the Regulatory Enforcement and Sanctions Act brought some significant changes to the PA scheme. As a result of these changes, there will be a broadened scope for SRS to enter into PA partnerships The main changes can be summarised as follows:-
  • A business can enter into a PA partnership before it begins trading.
  • There is no longer a need for a business to trade across local authority boundaries in order to be eligible for PA. Single site businesses are now able to form partnerships in the same way as multi-site operations.
  • Matters devolved to Wales are now recognised on the basis of Welsh Government policy areas meaning that a business trading in Wales in sectors such as food, public health, agriculture, environmental protection and pollution control, housing will need to have a Welsh Primary Authority partner if assured advice is to have effect in Wales.
  1. The latter change is already being felt by SRS with a number of 'big names' interested in partnering to ensure PA coverage in Wales. SRS recently entered into a partnership with Tesco and a number of other prospective Welsh partnerships are currently in the discussion phase.
  • Welsh Government Consultation on Taxi Legislation
  1. Between June and September 2017 the Welsh Government held a consultation on the legislation governing taxi and private hire vehicles, which is to become a devolved matter following provisions contained in the Wales Act 2017. It is widely recognised that the existing legislation is archaic and that a new piece of primary legislation provides an ideal opportunity to implement a system that reflects an evolving transport regime. The public are often unaware of the distinction between hackney carriage and private hire vehicles and it rarely makes a difference to them whether they make a booking via a telephone, smartphone app or hail a vehicle from the roadside. The consultation proposals are based in part on a previous report by the Law Commission which made 84 recommendations. They include:
  • the introduction of national standards for all taxis and private hire vehicles set by the Welsh Ministers.
  • local licensing authorities able to set additional licence conditions where appropriate and remain responsible for issuing licences and enforcement.
  • providers being able to work across local authority borders more easily with licensing officers provided with new enforcement powers to deal with vehicles and drivers licensed in different areas.
  • local licensing authorities retaining the right to limit the number of taxis working in their licensing area.
  • improved arrangements for regulating fares.
  1. The Shared Regulatory Service (SRS) provided a comprehensive response to the consultation and continue to liaise with Welsh Government Officials, who aim to provide an update in Spring 2018. This will inform proposals for amending and harmonising Taxi policies in Bridgend Cardiff and the Vale.
  • Grenfell Fire
  1. Following the tragic fire and loss of life in Grenfell Tower in North Kensington there has been a nationwide review of the use of a particular type of cladding known as Aluminium Composite Material (ACM) which was used in the Tower. Tests commissioned by Government and undertaken by the Building Research Establishment (BRE) have demonstrated that certain types of commonly used cladding do not meet the current Building Regulations in respect of spread of fire and therefore present a significant fire hazard in buildings over 18m tall.
  2. Within Wales Welsh Government and the Fire Service, together with input from Local Authorities and Housing providers, have identified sites where ACM has been used. Currently within the SRS area there are a number of tall buildings in Cardiff which are affected.
  3. An Independent Expert Panel has recommended implementation of a series of interim mitigating measures in the buildings affected to ensure the safety of residents, pending replacement of the cladding. The Fire and Rescue Service are the lead body responsible for taking forward this work but local Authorities are working closely with both Welsh Government and the Fire Service and may be required to take a more active role with Owners to ensure remediation of buildings going forward.
  • Port Health Plan
  1. The Committee has recently approved the Food Law Enforcement Service plan and the Section 18 Health and Safety plan; these plans have a statutory basis and require political approval.
  2. The SRS also publishes a number of operational plans to advise stakeholders of the work to be carried out in certain environments.
  3. The document set out at Appendix 5 is the Port Health Plan, which outlines how the SRS seeks to prevent infectious disease coming into Cardiff, Barry and the surrounding areas via the ports and airports to protect the health of the public. The Plan also demonstrates how these statutory obligations in relation to food safety, imported food control, ship sanitation, disinsection, waste control and animal health will be delivered.
  • Contractor and Employee Safety on Golf Courses
  1. Workplace Health and Safety at Golf Courses is an agreed national priority for proactive intervention for Welsh Local Authorities. This follows two work-related deaths at 2 golf courses in South East Wales in the last 3 years and a number of accidents and near misses. Local intelligence and information gathered through accident investigation informed the focus of this project:
  • General Health and Safety Management.
  • Contractor Safety.
  • Greenkeeper Safety.
  • Vehicle Safety and Movement.
  1. Initial visits took place between October and December 2016 and clubs were revisited between April and June 2017. Whilst no Improvement Notices or Prohibition Notices under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 were served all golf clubs received a formal written report outlining the contraventions and requiring clubs to submit an action plan to demonstrate commitment in raising standards.
  2. 19 (79%) golf clubs failed to adequately address the risks associated with green keeping staff working on slopes and in/near water courses. Key areas of non-compliance included:
  • Failure to control the potential for machinery overturning and drowning 14 (58%).
  • Failure to implement proportionate control measures to manage the risks posed by lone working - 13 (54%).
  • Poor management of external contractors responsible for undertaking high risk work-activities - 11 (46%).
  1. During the initial visits it was clear that many of our golf clubs presented the same risks as those golf clubs involved in the recent fatalities but revisits confirmed that these risks had now been minimised.
  • Sunbed Safety
  1. Using sunbeds can harm your health in the long term. They have been linked to:-
  • a higher risk of skin cancer.
  • eye damage including a higher risk of cataracts.
  • premature skin ageing.
  1. The health risks of using a sunbed are greater than any possible benefits they might provide in helping the body create Vitamin D.
  2. During July and August 2017 Commercial Services Trading Standards team carried out a survey across SRS testing sunbeds offered for hire to ascertain if they met the requirements of the General Product Safety Regulations in relation to the UV level exposure as detailed in BS EN 60335-2-27: 2010  
  3. There are no specific safety regulations in relation to Sunbeds and for this reason the safety requirements are those of the General Product Safety Regulations 2005. The Sunbeds (Regulation) Act 2010 (Wales) Regulations 2011 sets out certain requirements regarding the supervision of sunbeds in use, they prohibit the sale or hire of sunbeds to people under the age of 18 and require premises to display warning posters issued by Public Health Wales that carried the statement prescribed in the Schedules.
  4. During the survey 41 premises across SRS were tested as follows:

Area

Number of premises

inspected

Number of sunbeds

tested

Number of Notices

issued under the GPSR

Cardiff

22

45

2

VOG

9

22

1

Bridgend   

10

20

1

       
  1. The highest failure UV reading was 0.94kw/m2, this exceeding the permitted level by level by 213%. The business owner explained that they had purchased the sunbed from Italy complete with the bulbs and they therefore were old and did not meet the current standards.
  2. During the survey four 'requirement to mark' notices were issued in accordance with the General Product Safety Regulations to premises where the sunbeds failed the test with instructions that the sunbeds required servicing and the bulbs changed to meet the legal tolerance of 0.30kw/M2. 
  3. Work is ongoing with one premises and officers will be carrying out a test purchase in the near future to ascertain if the sunbed is being used. All other premises are currently compliant.
  • Enforcement Activity
  1. Details of recent cases investigated by the SRS that have resulted in prosecution are set out in Appendix 6 to this report.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

  1. The Participants' contribution towards the Shared Regulatory Service is recharged on a quarterly basis, based upon the approved budgets for 2017/18. Accounting for the full year will be reported to the Committee in 2018 at the Annual General Meeting.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

  1. There are no immediate sustainability or climate change implications associated with this report.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

  1. The legal implications were contained in the relevant Cabinet and Council reports.

Crime and Disorder Implications

  1. The crime and disorder implications were contained in the relevant Cabinet and Council reports.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

  1. The Equality implications were contained in the relevant Cabinet and Council reports.

Corporate/Service Objectives

  1. The key service and improvement objectives contained in the SRS Business Plan identify and link to the Corporate Plans of each Council.

Policy Framework and Budget

  1. The adopted Scrutiny regime will engage in the review and developments of plans, policies and strategies that support the corporate objectives of each Council.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

  1. No specific consultation has been undertaken in relation to this report, although Members will appreciate that considerable consultation and engagement has been and continued to be undertaken with the trade unions and staff.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

  1. The SRS is currently scrutinised through the arrangements in place at each partner Council.

Background Papers

None.

Contact Officer

D. Holland, Head of Shared Regulatory Services

Officers Consulted

Corporate Director, Bridgend County Borough Council

Director of Environment, City of Cardiff Council

Legal Services, The Vale of Glamorgan Council

Accountant, The Vale of Glamorgan Council

Responsible Officer:

Miles Punter - Director of Environment and Housing, The Vale of Glamorgan Council