Agenda Item No 6

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

Shared Regulatory Services Joint Committee: 18th September 2018

Report of the Director of Environment & 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

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

Reason for the Recommendation

The report apprises the Committee of the work of the service and the progress toward completing the SRS Business Plans.

Background

  1. SRS Business Plans are developed in consultation with stakeholders. They inform and direct the work of the service and contribute 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 activities undertaken in the period April 2018 to August 2018. 

Relevant Issues and Options

Human Resources

  1. Attendance levels have been reported to the Committee at regular intervals. Figures for this financial year up to end of June 2018 are set out below and indicate an increase upon the previous year. A projection based on current figures up to the end of this financial year is uncertain, but SRS management will work to maintain  attendance at the 2017/18 levels (6.9FTE) or below.
 

Short Term

Days Lost

Long Term Days Lost

Total Days lost Per FTE

Q1 2018

0.47

0.96

1.42

Q1 2017

0.29

0.41

0.70

Health and Safety

  1. Earlier in the year, SRS began working with the Trade Unions to ensure that everything possible is being done to protect the health, safety and wellbeing of frontline, peripatetic staff and particularly those working alone. This has resulted in a number of actions.
  2. Firstly, all non-office based staff have been provided with Conflict Management and Lone Worker training from an external provider, Safety Training Solutions Ltd. The training has been tailored to the particular needs of SRS, through the use of relevant case studies and making reference to relevant risk assessments. The day long training has been extremely well received and has prompted a number of suggestions from attendees as to additional measures to protect staff safety.
  3. Secondly, a number of SRS staff are piloting the use of the 'Solo Protect ID' device that pinpoints the location of the user, and should they encounter violent or aggressive behaviour or suffer injury while working alone, a call handler is able to intervene to get the necessary assistance to the person concerned. Feedback to date has been very positive and the device will be made available to other identified SRS staff.
  4. Finally, the system put in place to record warning alarms in respect of premises or individuals linked to violent or aggressive behaviour is working well on the SRS Tascomi database. It is vital that this process now extends to enable the two way sharing of such information across the three partner authorities, albeit this remains more of a challenge from the data governance perspective.

Financial Position Quarter 1

  1. A financial monitoring report for the period 1st April to 30th June is attached at Appendix 1 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 £8,504m. 

Performance Monitoring

  1. Joint Committee members are provided with data on activity levels to help reassure local members at ach council that SRS activity continues to tackle issues across the region.  Performance data for quarter 1 of 2018/19 is set out at Appendix 2 and is being reported to each Council in line with the legacy performance management regimes and existing service plans. A presentation on the current performance will be provided at the Joint Committee meeting.
  2. An audit review of Shared Regulatory Services - Financial Controls & Governance was undertaken as part of the 2018/19 annual Internal Audit Plan. The objective of the audit was to provide the necessary assurance to the SRS Joint Committee that financial controls and governance are operating effectively and in compliance with the Council's policies and procedures including Financial Procedure Rules, Contract Procedure Rules etc.
  3. During the Audit a number of strengths and areas of good practice were identified including the regular scheduled appointments between SRS management and the Accountant to maintain communication over the position of the budget. No key issues were identified during the Audit and it was concluded that the effectiveness of the internal control environment is considered to be sound and therefore substantial assurance can be placed upon the management of risks.

Service Updates

  • Health and Safety Enforcement
  1. In July 2018, the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Occupational Safety and Health reported to Parliament on the role of local Government in health and safety regulation and made a number of recommendations for change. The report noted that workplace health and safety enforcement at premises within the purview of local Councils is done through Regulatory Services officers who are also responsible for many other enforcement areas including food safety, housing, environmental nuisance and trading standards.
  2. The report expresses concern at the reduction in the number of proactive visits undertaken by Councils and attributes this to HSE policy guidance and the reduction in funding to Regulatory Services.

" it appears likely that, at a time of reduced resources, a combination of reduced money available and competing priorities have led to the decline. The requirements on local councils in respect of food hygiene inspections mean that councils have to make much more frequent visits to food premises rather than other workplaces, despite the relative risk of serious injury or illness from a failure in occupational health and safety being much greater that from a failure in food hygiene. In addition, elected members are far less likely to hear complaints from constituents on occupational health and safety than on food safety, consumer safety, noise and environmental nuisance".

  1. The report notes that fewer employers are being brought to justice, but this does not appear to be because fewer employers are putting their workforce at risk as there has been no fall in injury or ill-health statistics. There is an acknowledgement  that inspections not only ensure that the law is being complied with but also that inspectors assist employers by giving advice and support and promoting good practice.
  2. Perhaps of most interest in the current financial climate are the comments upon funding the cost of health and safety interventions. The HSE has, since 2012, operated a "fee for intervention" scheme (FFI) as a response to the reductions in government funding. Where HSE inspectors find a material breach of the law during an inspection, the cost of the original visit as well as the cost of ensuring that the breach is rectified through return visits, reports, getting specialist advice etc, is paid by the employer at a rate of £129 an hour. This does not apply to local authority inspections and local councils cannot make any charges.
  3. An independent review of FFI concluded that "it has proven effective in achieving the overarching policy aim of shifting the cost of health and safety regulation from the public purse to those businesses that break health and safety laws." The all-party group however is concerned that the fee regime has not been extended to local authority enforcement. This is a major inconsistency and could prove to be an incentive to local councils to improve their levels of enforcement activity.
  4. The All-Party Group recognises the financial restraints that many local councils are working under and the many competing demands on their services. We believe that local authorities, in general, provide a very useful service and that the current dual inspection role between the HSE and local authorities is a pragmatic approach to inspection and enforcement. Consequently their recommendations to Government include:
  • HSE ensure that local government priorities on inspection reflect the current HSE strategy with greater emphasis on health, rather than just safety.
  • That "fee for intervention" should be extended to local authorities
  • The HSE should provide some framework for consistency of approach in good primary authorities working and ensure greater scrutiny of the scheme.

Any legislative change as a result of this report will be reported to the Joint Committee at a later date.

  • Safeguarding/Scams
  1. SRS officers have been busy during July and August raising awareness of how to avoid scams and other rogue trading practices. Having a presence at a number of shows, open days and similar events ensured that as large an audience as possible was reached over the course of the summer and attendance at the Vale of Glamorgan Agricultural Show even resulted in a surprise slot for one of our Officers to spread the word, live on Bro Radio.
  2. A number of joint days of action and 'Rogue Trader Days' were undertaken with South Wales Police and a further three call blockers were installed in the homes of vulnerable residents during the summer, bringing the total number  SRS fitted call blockers in use in residents' homes to 38.
  3. Scams Awareness Month, a national initiative, took place in June and to mark the occasion, Shared Regulatory Services staged a 'Friends Against Scams' session for Vale of Glamorgan Council staff and Elected Members, which was well received. Friends Against Scams (FAS) is a UK-wide scheme that aims to protect and prevent people from becoming victims by empowering communities to take a stand against scams. FAS awareness sessions are designed to equip attendees with the knowledge and skills to discern the different types of scams and how to spot and support a victim. The session has been supplemented for Vale of Glamorgan employees by making available on-line training via the iDev facility.
  • Air Quality
  1. The annual Air Quality progress reports, as required by Welsh Government are being finalised prior to their being presented to the respective Cabinets of Bridgend, Cardiff  and the Vale of Glamorgan Councils in the autumn. The indicative position in each of the three council areas is as follows
  2. Bridgend - In 2017, SRS increased the number of monitoring locations for nitrogen dioxide (NO2) in Bridgend County Borough. These sites were commissioned based on known areas of particularly elevated traffic flows, the introduction of traffic management systems and foreseeable development, all with nearby relevant exposure. Based on the results obtained during 2017, the boundary of one of these locations was extended by the addition of a further two monitoring locations for 2018.  
  3. Although the full dataset is not available for 2018, the average NO2 level breaches the annual average objective set for NO2, and gives cause for concern. A report is being presented to the Bridgend County Borough Council on 18th September setting out the need for an Air Quality Management area to be declared for the location giving concern. As there are a number of residential properties included in the boundary of the AQMA, residents will be consulted during which time the reasons for and the implications of an AQMA can be explained to the community.
  4. Following the declaration of an AQMA, the Bridgend County Borough Council will have up to 24 months to formalise an Action Plan in order to implement appropriate measures to improve/ reduce the NO2 levels within the AQMA. This will require a co-ordinated approach with SRS working with a number of BCBC departments and other agencies to identify the most appropriate solutions to improve air quality in the area.
  5. Vale of Glamorgan - The results of monitoring air quality in the Air Quality Management Area located in the Vale of Glamorgan have for a number of years indicated that it is time to revoke the AQMA in Penarth. This will be recommended to the Vale of Glamorgan Council Cabinet when the annual Air Quality Progress report is presented in October. An effective communications plan will ensure that residents understand the reasons for revoking the existing the AQMA and importantly, that monitoring of air quality will continue in the area to ensure that the greatly improved standard of air quality is maintained. 
  6. In response to local concerns about the Biomass plant in Barry, SRS has invested in two AQ monitors that monitor Air Quality every 15 minutes. One of these monitors is situated on Holton Road and the other on Docks View Road, and both are now operational and sending live Air Quality data. Residents and interested parties can view the results via the SRS website. 
  7. Cardiff - SRS continues to play a significant role in assisting the City of Cardiff Council as it identifies the most effective way to improve air quality going forward.  External consultants are currently concluding transport and air quality modelling exercises to inform the Council's initial report to Welsh Government which is due to be submitted by 30th September.
  • Major Events
  1. SRS plays an important role in the successful staging of major events across the three local authority areas. In addition to any dealing with any licensing matters associated with a particular event, SRS plays an important role in ensuring that food sold at events is safely prepared and stored, and that it is labelled correctly. In the case of stadium concerts and sporting events, input may be required to assist brand holders to protect trade marked goods and safeguard against the supply of counterfeits.
  2. Major events staged through the participant Councils go through a detailed planning process via the respective Events Safety Advisory Group in Bridgend and the Vale of Glamorgan, and in Cardiff via the Events Liaison Panel. SRS plays a role throughout the planning stages with respect to food safety, health and safety and brand protection.
  3. While Summer is traditionally the busiest  time for events, June, July and August have been exceptionally busy for events. This is due in part to the success of the City of Cardiff Council in promoting itself on the world stage as the home of successful events. There is also a discernible increase year on year in the other two local authority areas, with figures for the Vale of Glamorgan area suggesting a 25% increase in events this year. Some examples of events recently staged include the Volvo Ocean Race, Oktoberfest, Welshfest and the various agricultural shows across the region. All of this has an impact on the Shared Service in terms of meeting demand from other areas of responsibility, and at a time of our diminishing staffing resource, and in covering weekend and evening work. Discussions are underway with the respective partner councils to ensure that event work can be appropriately prioritised, for example through service level agreements, and measures put in place to recover cost where necessary.
  • Housing Enforcement
  1. The Grenfell Inquiry chaired by Sir Martin Moore-Bick is an independent public inquiry, set up to examine the circumstances leading up to and surrounding the fire at Grenfell Tower on 14 June 2017. It is currently in Phase 1 of the enquiry and has taken evidence from a range of experts who have been critical of the current regime for regulating the testing and use of ACM materials which were involved in the rapid spread of the fire at the high rise.
  2. Within Cardiff there are a number of privately owned high rise buildings which have been constructed using ACM materials similar to that used at Grenfell. The Fire Service and Welsh Government  have taken a lead to date in co-ordinating the response to the issues raised by the fire in Wales. There is a possibility the SRS may take a more prominent role in respect of affected high rise buildings in the private sector through the use of powers contained in the Housing Act 2004 and the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (Wales) Regulations 2006. The SRS are taking further expert advice and remain in consultation with Welsh Government and the Fire Service as the response to Grenfell and the potential remediation of some of the high rise buildings proceeds. We will continue to update the Joint Committee on this matter.
  • Taxi Licensing
  1. The Welsh Government is yet to produce their proposals for the review of Taxi and private hire legislation in Wales following the consultation last year; this is envisaged to become available in September 2018. Taxi licensing remains the responsibility of each Council through its licensing/public protection Committees. However, the changes suggested by the consultation may have wider implications for consumers and it is proposed to report any changes to the Joint Committee on that basis.
  1. In the same vein, members of the Joint Committee may be aware that Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan have granted a Private Hire Operator Licence to a company called OLA, who operate via a smart app., similar to those used by UBER and Dragon for example. The Company was able to evidence compliance with both Council's conditions for a private hire operator licence and therefore the licence was granted via Officer delegated powers, as is the usual due process in such cases. Once again, there is heightened consumer interest in the use of app based technology to make taxi bookings and developments will be reported to the Joint Committee.
  • Communicable Disease Service Plan
  1. SRS publishes a number of operational plans to advise stakeholders of the work to be carried out in certain environments. One of those plans has recently been completed and is appended for consideration by the Joint Committee. The document set out at Appendix 3 is the Communicable Disease Plan, which sets out how the SRS will fulfil its role of protecting public health through the investigation of cases and outbreaks of communicable disease and the application of control, preventative and enforcement measures. 
  • Managing Infection Control Workshops
  1. SRS officers in partnership with Welsh Government and Vector Air and Water Systems delivered a 'Managing Infection Control Workshop' to residential care homes in SRS in June this year. Earlier health and safety visits indicated that care homes continue to struggle with effective management and control of Legionella in hot and cold water systems.
  2. This interactive session also included talks on prevention and control of Norovirus and Influenza in care homes. 56 delegates attended, 50 (89%) said that the workshop provided either very good or excellent value to their business, 55 (98%) reported learning something from attending the workshop and 48 (86%) said they would be making changes within their business as a result of what they had learned.
  • Food Hygiene Rating Display Survey
  1. The Food Hygiene Rating (Wales) Act 2013 establishes a mandatory food hygiene rating scheme for Wales. The scheme is designed to help consumers make informed choices as to where to purchase or eat food by providing information about the hygiene standards. Food businesses (unless exempt) have a legal duty to display a valid FHRS sticker.
  2. A survey was completed across SRS earlier this year to ensure compliance with the legislative requirements. A total of 947 businesses were checked to verify the valid rating sticker was being displayed in a conspicuous place. 18 businesses were found not to comply with the law and were served a fixed penalty notice.
  3. Further legal proceedings are currently on-going for businesses who have failed to pay the fixed penalty notice for non-display. One case has been concluded involved a restaurant within the Cardiff area which was fined £2400 and ordered to pay £200 in legal cost along with £40 victim surcharge.
  4. SRS has received significant press attention as a result of this case and  has also received a letter from the Food Standards Agency to congratulate the department on the successful result. A copy of the letter is contained within Appendix 4.
  • Swimming Pool Survey
  1. Cryptosporidiosis is a protozoan infection which can cause symptoms such as profuse watery diarrhoea and cramping abdominal pain in humans.  It is most commonly associated with young children in the 0-5 years age range and has several modes of transmission including person-to-person spread and bathing in contaminated water sources; including leisure waters such as swimming pools.  The illness spreads via Oocysts, which appear in the faeces at the onset of symptoms, and can continue to be excreted for several weeks - even after symptoms have subsided.  The main problem with Oocysts is their ability to be highly resistant to chemical disinfectants; including chlorine. 
  2. Analysis of 2017 data identified a continuation of an increasing trend of Cryptosporidium cases being reported to SRS - .38 confirmed cases (Bridgend x5; Cardiff x22; Vale x11), with leisure pools being implicated venues in a significant proportion of these cases.  Using this information enforcement visits were undertaken during Quarter 1 in line with 2018/2019 Business Plan.  A total of 44 leisure pools were included in this intervention (Bridgend x9; Cardiff x22; Vale x13), which included pools in privately operated leisure centres, hotels and caravan parks.  All visits were undertaken on an unannounced basis, with the aim of the intervention being to identify how duty holders were managing the risk of Cryptosporidium in vulnerable populations and promoting good hygiene practices by pool users. 
  3. Visits identified the following key points: 
  • Pool staff could evidence they had attended a recognised training course (STA / CIMSPA), but knowledge about their own pool plant system and internal procedures was often lacking.
  • A large proportion of 'Normal Operating Procedures' were considered to be too generic and failed to provide any specificity about the pool plant system in operation at a particular venue.  This problem was identified across the board - in small, independent businesses and national leisure companies.
  • A number of pools were using the incorrect procedure for dealing with diarrhoea incidents in their respective leisure pools (primarily due to a lack of knowledge about their individual filter specifications)
  • A number of pools had fluctuating chemical test results, and corrective actions being implemented by staff reaffirmed a lack of knowledge about the site-specific installation.
  • Whilst most leisure pools had pre-swim showers and nappy policies for babies/young children, many pools failed to provide any information to pool users about not using the facility if they had had diarrhoea within the last 48 hours.  Very few pools advised pool users not to swim if they had been diagnosed with Cryptosporidium and had symptoms within the last 14 days.
  • 1 pool and 1 spa pool had to be closed during the Officer visit due to problems with low temperature and low chlorine levels.
  • Enforcement Activity
  1. Details of recent cases investigated by the SRS that have resulted in prosecution are set out in Appendix 5 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 2018/19.  Accounting for the full year will be reported to the Committee 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 are no immediate legal implications associated with this report

Crime and Disorder Implications

  1. There are no immediate issues contained in this report.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

  1. There are no immediate issues contained in this report.

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 on the work of the service has been and continued to be undertaken with a range of stakeholders

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

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

Background Papers

SRS - Financial Controls & Governance report - Internal audit service

 

Local authorities and health and safety -  All-Party Parliamentary Group on Occupational Safety and Health

Contact Officer

Head of Shared Regulatory Services

Officers Consulted

Head of Legal and Regulatory Services, Bridgend County Borough Council

Assistant Director Streetscene, 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 Services - Vale of Glamorgan Council