West Berkshire Council

Agenda and minutes

Contact: Moira Fraser / Stephen Chard 

Items
No. Item

1.

Election of the Chairman

To elect the Chairman of the Joint Public Protection Committee for the 2020/21 Municipal Year.

Minutes:

RESOLVED that Councillor Parry Batth be elected Chairman of the Joint Public Protection Committee for the 2020/21 Municipal Year.

2.

Election of the Vice-Chairman

To elect the Vice-Chairman of the Joint Public Protection Committee for the 2020/21 Municipal Year.

Minutes:

RESOLVED that Councillor John Harrison be elected Vice-Chairman of the Joint Public Protection Committee for the 2020/21 Municipal Year.

3.

Minutes from the previous meeting pdf icon PDF 308 KB

To approve as a correct record the Minutes of the meeting of this Committee held on 30 January 2020.

Minutes:

The minutes of the previous meeting held on 30 January 2020 were approved as a true and correct record and signed by the Chairman.

4.

Declarations of Interest

Any Member with a Disclosable Pecuniary Interest in a matter should withdraw from the meeting when the matter is under consideration, and should notify the Democratic Services Officer in attendance that they are withdrawing as they have such an interest. If the Disclosable Pecuniary Interest is not entered on the register of Members’ Interests, the Monitoring Officer must be notified of the interest within 28 days.

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest received.

5.

Public Questions

Subject to meeting certain timescales, questions can relate to general issues concerned with the work of the Partnership or an item which is on the agenda for this meeting. For full details of the procedure for submitting questions please contact Democratic Services.

Minutes:

No public questions were submitted.

6.

Future Plan pdf icon PDF 62 KB

To detail future items that the Committee will be considering.

Minutes:

RESOLVED that the Future Plan, dated 15 September 2020 to 16 March 2021, be noted.

7.

Public Protection Partnership Response to Covid-19 pdf icon PDF 511 KB

To provide the Joint Public Protection Committee with an overview of the work undertaken by the Public Protection Service in response to Covid19.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee considered the report (Agenda Item 8) which provided an overview of the work undertaken by the Public Protection Service in response to Covid-19.

Sean Murphy (Public Protection Manager) introduced the report. He described the work undertaken by the service in recent months in response to the Covid-19 outbreak and future work.

Interim service arrangements had been put in place immediately prior to lockdown and it had been necessary to cease operating some aspects of the service. This would be covered in greater detail in the performance report, but included inspections of food premises and visits to farms.

New areas of work had also been introduced quite rapidly in response to Government regulations. The structure of the service had been analysed to see how best to deliver this work. This was taken forward in two ways.

Firstly, a reactive service was created to manage the increased demand in enquiries from, and provide increased support for, residents and businesses.

The second aspect was work within the community. This included the provision of messages to support businesses and more recently to support businesses to reopen. This also covered track and trace work.

Anna Smy (Strategic Manager for Response) provided further detail on the reactive/response work. This work had involved existing staff but officers who would normally undertake inspections and visits to premises had also been utilised.

Initially, there was work in relation to what premises could remain open, with non-compliance issues having to be resolved. This involved weekend visits to premises, sometimes alongside the Police. This was a heavy workload for a relatively small team.

There was a particular increase in the reporting, at the beginning of lockdown, of complaints relating to bonfires and noise nuisance. The priority for officers had been responding to issues linked to commercial activities.

There had been an initial reduction in work associated with complaints related to food premises as they were not operating. However, this was beginning to return to normal levels as businesses sought to operate, sometimes in different ways.

Noise complaints had returned with business reopening and many people continuing to work from home. Domestic noise had also resulted in complaints, again as people worked from home and children remained home from school.

There had been a strong focus on ensuring health and safety requirements were being met by businesses.

The team’s workload had currently become a mixture of a return to business as usual (doorstep crime was increasing) and ongoing Covid-19 related work. This included working with businesses such as public houses and hair salons seeking to operate.

Sean Murphy added that when the regulations were issued for restrictions to businesses, Public Protection Partnerships (PPPs) were designated as the enforcement authority. A team of officers had been put in place although the impact at that stage was unclear. As an example of the impact, Sean Murphy explained that since this report was produced, 280+ enquiries/complaints had been received from residents, other businesses and employees of businesses. In response, officers had conducted a  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.

8.

Public Protection Partnership Covid-19 Recovery Approach pdf icon PDF 499 KB

To provide the Joint Public Protection Committee with an overview on the approach to service recovery as we move from interim service delivery arrangements.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee considered the report (Agenda Item 9) which provided an overview on the approach to service recovery alongside the move from interim service delivery arrangements.

Sean Murphy (Public Protection Manager) introduced the report. He began by describing the balance to be struck between response and recovery work. A Recovery Plan was in place that included community protection work, protecting/improving health, and providing health and safety advice to businesses. The service had a role to play in economic recovery, by supporting businesses and helping to build residents’ confidence by providing assurance. Regular communication would need to continue to help achieve that. Communication with businesses was at an increased level and it was the intention to build on positive working relationships.

However, it was also necessary to conduct business as usual as much as possible and progress service development priorities.

Part of the return to business as usual was to restart routine work around food safety inspections. This would help to provide the reassurance to residents. However, this type of work was also important for businesses in terms of receiving hygiene ratings and in following the advice of the Food Standards Agency.

The report outlined the approach to taking forward this challenging workload. Much of the work was a high priority, but work would be conducted with higher risk premises first.

One of the many challenges arose from the fact that court cases had been adjourned to the end of June 2020 and there would therefore be an increased workload once the courts reopened.

Anna Smy (Strategic Manager for Response) added that licencing applications continued to be processed. She explained that the opportunity had been taken during these challenging times to work more flexibly and undertake increased cross-authority work to become more resilient and widen the capability of officers.

Councillor Hilary Cole gave thanks for the very comprehensive Recovery Plan. However she questioned whether there was sufficient resource to implement the plan.

Sean Murphy explained that this was very much the challenge. For example, staff involved in track and trace work would normally be conducting food safety inspections and health and safety audits. However there was also the high priority of helping businesses to reopen safely to aid the economy.

It would not be possible to accommodate all areas of work and there would be an ongoing need to prioritise. Areas identified as being of greatest risk would come first. An update report would be provided at the next meeting of the Committee.

Councillor Hilary Cole noted that the vast majority of the priorities in the plan were rated as high level, making prioritisation of work streams very challenging. She queried whether the priority list would be revisited with the aim of making it more manageable.

Sean Murphy acknowledged this point, consideration had been given to those areas of work that could be reduced and/or delayed. Adjustments were being made to the staffing structure to enable officers to work across different areas and different disciplines. New ways of working could also  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.

9.

Public Protection Partnership 2019/20 Year End Performance Report pdf icon PDF 251 KB

To inform the Committee of the 2019/20 performance outturn for the Public Protection Partnership.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee considered the 2019/20 performance outturn for the Public Protection Partnership (Agenda Item 10).

Paul Anstey (Head of Public Protection and Culture) commenced his presentation of the report by explaining that fluctuations in demand had been closely analysed during the response to Covid-19 to try to understand whether these changed the basis of the Inter-Authority Agreement. The analysis considered demand across local authority areas and sought to ensure that the budget composition was fair.

The outcome of this work found that trends remained broadly in line with the Inter-Authority Agreement and it therefore did not need to be adjusted. This would aid the budget setting process.

A challenging set of performance indicators had been set for 2019/20. At year end, 24 were reported as Green, 9 as Amber and 11 as Red. It was the view that the Amber indicators would have been reported Green had it not been necessary, based on Government guidance, to make changes to inspection programmes.

Significant achievements included:

·         A growth in social media and communications. Visits to the website and grown from 300 visits a month to 10,500 visits.

·         £155k recovered for the victims of crime.

·         £101k recovered from proceeds of crime.

Progress had also been made with the use of technology and it was the intention to expand this further as part of recovery work. Technological developments had benefitted the operation of this shared service.

The Joint Management Board spent some time challenging the ‘Red’ indicators and looked at ways to improve performance in these areas in future. A contributing factor was the level of staffing absence. Much of this related to the personal circumstances of officers during very challenging times.

Areas identified for improvement included:

·         The production of quarterly absence data for the Management Board with a clear narrative on resulting operational risks.

·         The Management Board would conclude contract matters with Tascomi to deliver the single case management system by April 2021.

·         The Workforce Strategy would be concluded, this would identify the appropriate recruitment options and approaches to staff development to improve resilience and delivery of key targets.

·         The service would produce an effective recovery plan, dealing with the lessons learned from 2019/20 and Covid-19 response work, specifically seeking to address management capacity issues.

Councillor James Cole questioned the time it had taken to agree a contract with Tascomi. Paul Anstey explained that Tascomi had been bought out by a competitor part way through contractual discussions. It had therefore proved necessary to renegotiation terms and conditions.

Councillor James Cole followed this by querying if this remained the correct approach. Paul Anstey confirmed his view that it was. The software in question was the most tried and tested product on the market, and it made sense from a financial viewpoint. If the procurement process was restarted then it would result in further delays which would become a problem operationally.

Damian James (Chair of the Joint Management Board) explained that while a contract had yet to be signed with Tascomi, work was taking place  ...  view the full minutes text for item 9.

10.

Any other items the Chairman considers to be urgent

Minutes:

No urgent items were raised.