Cabinet Member: Councillor Dafydd Meurig
Consider the Head of Environment’s Report
a) Submitted – the report of the Head of Environment updating Members on the progress made by the Public Protection Service in addressing the recommendations of the Food Standards Agency’s audit that took place in February 2016.
It was reported that the Service had provided a detailed action plan to address the 34 recommendations. It was highlighted that 21 of the recommendations had been addressed thus far with the work to meet the other 13 continuing. It was added that some of the recommendations that had not been addressed were dependent on referring more resources to the Service. It was reported that the Service had seen a substantial reduction in staff as a result of the cuts system, however, it continued to try and prioritise work. Despite this, it was noted that low risk establishments did not receive inspections within the time-schedule recommended by the Food Standards Agency. It was also reported that the qualifications of the Food Standards Agency, which was an independent body inspecting an ideal situation, was high, but the service now offered training to address this.
It was noted that there were over 2000 food establishments within the rural area of Gwynedd and 1500 of these were inspected annually. In terms of performance, it was reported that 98% of the food establishments across the County scored between 3 and 5 which was very good. It was added that the service also looked to ensure that it was possible for officers to work more effectively by being out in the field rather than to duplicate administrative/additional work in the office. It was noted that food establishments appreciated the Service and offered positive feedback on the work. It was added that the Service supported the local economy by undertaking these inspections.
b) During the discussion the following observations were noted:
· Concern that the Service did not have sufficient resources to fully achieve the requirements of the Food Standards Agency.
· There was a need to improve staff qualifications
· It was necessary to frequently monitor the situation
· That priority should be given to high risk establishments
· Consideration should be given to charging a fee for visits or a penalty for non-compliance
a) In response to a comment regarding improving qualifications, it was noted that a series of training sessions had been conducted and the service was likely to attain the expected level.
In response to a comment regarding charging a fee for visits, it was noted that this had been discussed nationally, however, as the work was statutory, it was not possible to generate income. It was added that there was not much scope to charge a fee for work in this field but there was a right to provide advice and it may be possible to consider this.
· That the Committee was content that the majority of the recommendations had been achieved, however, there was concern regarding the lack of resources to achieve the statutory work within the time-schedule which created a risk to the Council and the the County's residents.
· That the service achieved good work under challenging circumstances.
· To propose that the Department presents more information and facts in order to challenge the need for more resources to address the statutory requirements.