2021/2022

Environmental Health is about everything that affects the health of the public. What we eat, where we live and work, the air we breathe and the land we stand on. Our aim, in everything we do, is to protect public health through proactive inspections, licensing, complaint investigations and routine sampling. We are committed to work with partner organisations to achieve this, Public Health England and the Director of Public Health, East Sussex County Council.
This page is a guide to Environmental Health for members with snapshots of our work. Our contact details are at the end of this page.

CONTENTS

  1. Air quality
  2. Caravan and Camp sites
  3. Community safety (Rother only)
  4. Contaminated land
  5. Cosmetic piercing and makeup
  6. Disease investigations
  7. Dogs and cats
  8. Export Health Certificates
  9. Food safety
  10. Fuel Poverty (Rother Only)
  11. Healthy workplaces
  12. Housing conditions
  13. Licensing
  14. Pest control
  15. Pollution control
  16. Private water supplies
  17. Public health funerals (Wealden only)
  18. Taxis
  19. Contact details

Service Overview

Food and Safety Team

Food Safety
Food Hygiene Rating
Export Health Certificates
Food Related Illnesses
Licensing of caravan sites

Licensing

Alcohol
Animal Welfare
Regulated Entertainment
Gambling
Taxis

Health and Safety

In work places and where work related activity affect the public, if we are the enforcing authority, rather than the Health and Safety Executive
Accident Investigations if an employee is injured or killed at work
Safety Advisory Groups (for public events)

Environmental Protection

Air Quality
Anti-Social Behaviour
Contaminated Land
Drainage
Housing
Noise
Waste

Public Health

Exhumations
Infectious Diseases
Filthy and Verminous Premises
Fuel Poverty
Pest and Dog Control (lost, found and strays)

Community Safety (Rother only)

Hastings and Rother CSP
JAG, ASBRAC
Anti-social behaviour
Safeguarding- domestic abuse

Air quality

Air quality is affected by human activities, climate and ecosystems and is one of the most urgent public health issues of our times. The World Health Organisation (WHO) places the mortality rate from air pollution in the UK at 25.7 per 100,000, a rate beaten by Brazil and Mexico (2017). The WHO has described this situation as “a major Environmental Health problem affecting everyone”, where national and international policy makers need to tackle this “toxic air crisis”.

Air pollution is caused by road traffic, industry, oil and wood burning and power plants. The Council monitors for air quality across both Rother and Wealden districts for nitrogen dioxides, particulates and ozone. In 2019 there were no areas in Rother or Wealden where people were exposed to levels of NO2 or particulates in excess of UK air quality objectives. Annual air quality reports can be seen at: Air quality – Rother District Council or Monitoring air quality – Wealden District Council – Wealden District Council

We work with Sussex Air so they can provide information via air Alert direct to the public.

To tackle air pollution;

Caravan and camp sites

Well laid out and well managed caravan and camp sites are a safe environment for holidaymakers and contribute to a strong local economy.

Poorly laid out caravan/camp sites are a fire risk. Overcrowding on sites can overwhelm site facilities particularly refuse disposal, sewage and toilets. To protect holiday makers and to maintain the touring and static caravan sites as holiday centres the Environmental Health department licences each of these holiday sites. Most caravan/camp site licences restrict the opening season and specify operating conditions.

Residential mobile homes, sometimes called park homes, are also licensed by Environmental Health. These parks are permanent homes and standards are higher that for holiday sites.

Further information;

Community safety (Rother only)

The Council administers the Hastings and Rother Community Safety Partnership. A monthly Rother JAG is held with the ESFRS, Optivo, Police and voluntary sector, to agree actions to resolve crime and anti-social behaviour in the district, including street drinkers and rough sleepers. In addition, a monthly ASBRAC meeting discusses victim and perpetrators of anti-social behaviour -practitioners from all partners take part to agree the lead agency and joint action.

The Council has safeguarding responsibilities, particularly in relation to domestic abuse. Community safety and emergencies – Rother District Council
Officers also attend the Wealden CSP, JAG and ASBRAC
Contact: Carol Studley (Rother), Jeremy Leach (Wealden)

Contaminated land

Local authorities have a duty to declare land as contaminated if chemicals in the soil can impact human health. Contaminated land that may impact on controlled water, may be declared special sites, where the Environment Agency is the enforcing authority e.g. Rye Harbour. Most contaminated land sites are remediated when redeveloped through the planning regime.
Land that may be contaminated – Rother District Council
Contact: Greg Minns

Cosmetic piercing and makeup

Rother and Wealden DC registers practitioners who use needles to penetrate the skin for treatments for acupuncture, body piercing, electrolysis, semi-permanent skin colouring and tattooing. These treatments are popular and when done correctly can give the individual relief from particular conditions and satisfaction with personal appearance.

Each practitioner must comply with the Council’s Byelaws to make sure their operation is safe and does not transmit infectious diseases from one client to the next. In the summer of 2016, there was an outbreak of a serious skin infection called Pseudomonas aeruginosa in South East England which originated from defective saline solution used as part of cartilage ear piercing.

To protect customers:

  • Rother and Wealden DC have Byelaws for acupuncture, body piercing, electrolysis, semi-permanent make up and tattooing.
  • Each premises must be registered, and each practitioner must hold a personal registration

Further Information; Skin Piercing – Rother District Council or Skin Piercing – Wealden District Council – Wealden District Council

Disease investigations

Public Health England report cases of infectious disease such as Salmonella and Campylobacter, which occur in the community to the Environmental Health department. These infections can be passed from person to person and through poor food preparation, so it is important that we advise on how they can be stopped.

  • We contact every reported case with advice on personal hygiene and food preparation.
  • Where the case is a food handler, we will interview them and if necessary, take legal action to prevent them from going to work
  • When reports of TB in a dairy herd are received, we check immediately that the milk is not being used for human consumption or cheese making without pasteurisation.
  • We trace people who have come into contact with those already diagnosed with infectious disease and give them prompt health advice

Covid 19

Environmental Health Officers visit known cases of Covid 19 when Test and Trace cannot contact them. These visits are made as quickly as possible and are designed to give information and support.

Duty manager

The Environmental Health department has a Duty Manager system so a Manager is always available to requests for assistance with disease investigations by Public Health England and Test and Trace.

Contact; dutyeho@rother.gov.uk or 01424 787074

Dogs and cats

Environmental Health issue licences for kennels, catteries, home boarding and breeding of dogs to make sure that animal welfare standards are observed. Each business is given a star rating which is published at Animal Licensing Register – Rother District Council and Animal Licensing Register – Wealden District Council

Licences are also issued for pet shops, hiring out horses, dangerous wild animals and zoos.

Stray and lost dogs

Our contractor, Animal Wardens Ltd receives reports of lost and found dogs and seeks to reunite owner and pet. If this does not happen then the dog is kept in kennels for 7 days, after that the dog is normally rehomed.

Contact: Animal Wardens-01424 490034 (24-hour service)
Lost dogs – Rother District Council
Lost And Found Pets In Wealden – Wealden District Council – Wealden District Council

Control of dogs (Rother only)

Dog fouling on pavements, on the seafront and in parks is a health risk especially to children. Dog faeces may contain the eggs of the parasite Toxoplasma, which can cause Toxoplasmosis in humans. Campaigns to “scoop the poop” are staged for “hot spots” especially during the winter months.

In Wealden, this work is carried out by the Street Scene Team.

Export Health Certificates

Environmental Health Officers issue export health certificates for food businesses in Rother & Wealden. The officer must inspect the food and certify it has been produced hygienically and safely. The certificate accompanies the food to its destination.

An Environmental Health Officer inspecting a fish out of a box of ice
The resealed box of fish that has the Rother District Council logo on it and reads 'Opened for Official Controls'

Food safety

There are 1000 food premises within the Rother District and 1500 food premises in Wealden which either manufacture, process, wholesale or retail food.
All food businesses are routinely and regularly inspected, and a food hygiene rating awarded. The Food hygiene Rating System (FHRS) provides information to the public about the hygiene standards so they can make a choice about where they eat. These are published on a national website and mobile phone application. Door stickers are provided to each premises for voluntary display.

Routine food inspections can bring to light poor practises and dirty conditions. On one inspection an officer found substantial amounts of food which was months beyond its Use By date. The food was seized immediately as unfit for human consumption.

Photo of some expired food
Photo of some expired food
Photo of some expired food

In addition to routine work, visits are undertaken as a result of complaints by members of the public either concerning unsatisfactory premises or food bought in Rother or Wealden. We receive numerous requests for advice from people who wish to start up a new business. Full advice is available at; Starting a food business – Rother District Council or Starting a Food Business – Food Hygiene and Safety – Wealden District Council
The Food and Safety Team can be contacted at ; foodhs@rother.gov.uk

Fuel poverty (Rother only)

We are members of the East Sussex Energy Partnership and are working to reduce fuel poverty by referring residents to the Winter Home Check Service, which can access grants to install energy efficiency measures, including new boilers for eligible households.

Support to stay at home | East Sussex County Council

We also promote community energy supplier switching every winter: Cold homes and fuel poverty – Rother District Council

Healthy workplaces

Health and Safety law applies to all businesses and an employer or self-employed person is responsible for health and safety within their business. Rother & Wealden Councils are responsible for regulation in retail, leisure and service sectors. HSE is responsible for construction, agriculture and manufacturing. Advice for business is at Health and safety at work – the basics for business – Rother District Council or Health and safety at work – the basics for business – Wealden District Council

The overwhelming issue for employers is Covid security. Environmental Health Officers regularly give advice and inspect to ensure all current Covid security issues are in place.

6 Examples of Covid-19 posters asking customers to stay 2m apart and pay using contactless

Six of the posters available free to download at: Covid-19 signs for businesses to display for customers and staff – Rother District Council and Signs to advise customers and staff of Social Distancing requirements – Wealden District Council – Wealden District Council

Housing (Rother only)

Tenants in private rented accommodation can experience poor conditions, typically dampness, cold, lack of hot water, overcrowding. Officers regularly investigate such complaints and can be contacted at Housing.conditions@rother.gov.uk

Advice for tenants is available at Private rented housing – Rother District Council

Houses that Harm

An Englishman’s home is his castle, so the saying goes. Reality can be so different.
An elderly owner occupier contacted Environmental Health after months of worry about the adjacent neglected property. No one had lived in it for four years and conditions had deteriorated – the garden was overgrown, rats had been seen, drains had overflowed, paintwork and render was cracked, weeds were growing in the structure of the house. Officers visited and agreed that the neglected property was deteriorating, and action was needed to prevent further harm.

Front of the house showing old, damaged white paint
Photo of ivy growing up the wall and gutter
Closer photo of damaged white paint on the front of the house

The owner of the property was located, and a written warning sent. No response was received; an enforcement notice was served giving the owner two months to make the necessary repairs. No response received; no work done. A fixed penalty notice for £100 was issued for non-compliance with the enforcement notice. This was paid but the work remained outstanding. A second fixed penalty notice was issued, and the owner told that if they didn’t do the work the council take action and recover costs. Quotes were sought from local firms and the work began. The garden was cleared first, the property was painted, cracks were filled, weeds removed. An invoice for £3769 was sent to the owner.

Front of the repaired house
back of the repaired house
Back garden of the repaired house facing the house

No payment for the works done was received from the owner. Rother DC paid the contractors and obtained a charging order and enforced the sale of the property through the County Court, to recover the debt. The new owners will be renovating the property.
Absent owners who neglect their properties can cause harm to neighbours and incur costs with the local authority.

Licensing

A variety of businesses and services that are used by the public are licensed by Rother and Wealden Councils to make sure that they are safe. Public houses, entertainment venues, betting shops, street collections, pleasure boats, scrap metal dealers, keddle net fishing. Each licence has conditions which set down the rules for protecting public safety, public health, children and preventing crime and disorder.

Every business that supplies or sells alcohol has specific times at which they may operate. The sale of alcohol is often combined with entertainment which may give rise to local disturbance. There must always be a balance between the trade of a business and residents rest and enjoyment of their own property. Where disputes arise officers will visit and speak to all concerned. Elected members form a General Licensing Panel or Licensing Subcommittee which can be asked to adjudicate on specific cases.

In 2020 there were two applications to review premises licences following breaches of Coronavirus Restrictions. Both reviews can be watched online at; Agenda for Licensing and General Purposes Committee – General Licensing Panel on Friday 21st August 2020, 10.30 am – Rother District Council (moderngov.co.uk) and Licensing Sub Committee – YouTube

For further information on licensing please go to Licences and permits – Rother District Council or Licensing – Wealden District Council

Contact: Mark Randolph or licensing@rother.gov.uk

Pest control

The control of rats and mice is central to public health. Rats and mice can carry a variety of diseases including Salmonella and E.coli. When found in a household they must be dispatched, the house thoroughly cleaned and where necessary disinfected, and the structure repaired to prevent their re-entry. Wasp colonies establish in/outside homes in the late spring or a swarm may arrive suddenly making rooms uninhabitable or barring entry. A wasp sting is painful to most people but for some it can trigger an anaphylactic shock.

Bait laid to catch rodents
Picture showing bait laid for rodents which was gnawed by same rodents!

Residents of Rother & Wealden can book pest control treatments at Pest control – Rother District Council or Pest Control – Wealden District Council

  • We treat households for rats, wasps and mice as soon as possible; other pests on request.
  • We investigate the sources of rat infestations
  • We take enforcement action against landowners who have allowed rats to shelter and find food on their land
A wasps nest with a wasp on it
Picture of a wasps’ nest taken by the pest control officer

Pollution control

The Community Protection team work to support neighbourhoods by investigating complaints of noise, smoke, dust, odour, artificial light and private drainage.

This team will also investigate complaints of:

  • bonfires (including demolition sites, dark smoke from businesses) & odours
  • noise complaints (including domestic, commercial, car and house alarms)
  • drainage complaints (drains, cesspools and septic tanks)
  • waste accumulations (including fly-tipping & harbourage for vermin)
  • filthy or verminous premises

Rother normally investigates 800 complaints and Wealden investigates 1200 complaints a year. During the pandemic, with people working from home the number of complaints has been significantly increased.
Many of these issues can be resolved informally between neighbours. When this isn’t possible officers can issue enforcement notices requiring the removal of rubbish, cessation of noise/smoke/artificial light. A mediation service is available to residents, free of charge, when neighbourhood living becomes stressful.

Full details at Mediation East Sussex | Neighbourhood Mediation

Complaints of anti-social behaviour alleging damage to the environment are investigated by Environmental Health. Allegations of harassment of people are investigated by Sussex Police.
Comments are made on the environmental impact of various types of planning applications when requested by the planning officer (e.g. restaurants, take-always, industrial, stables & contaminated land).

Further information can be seen at Neighbourhood problems – Rother District Council and Supporting neighbourhoods – Wealden District Council – Wealden District Council
Contact pollution@rother.gov.uk
Manager: Cathy Beaumont

Nuisance in the village

When residents of a village alleged increased number of rats because of an abandoned building site an Environmental Health Officer visited. She spoke with neighbouring properties and businesses and confirmed there was rat activity.

The Environmental Health Officer instructed all to clean up. Materials and rubbish attract vermin as they provide food and shelter. When the EHO revisited the site, it was clean. All the plastic, building materials and rotting mattress had been removed.

Private water supplies

There are over a hundred households in Rother and Wealden that are dependent on wells, boreholes and springs for their drinking water. Such supplies may not be treated with chlorine. Private water supplies can become contaminated with Campylobacter, E.coli, Giardia and Cryptosporidium and may pose a threat to health, especially for children

A photo of a sink that is being sampled
Picture showing officer sampling water from a private supply

Contact: Phil Wright

Public health funerals (Wealden only)

The Council is responsible for organising funerals of people who die in the district, where sadly there are no relatives or friends able to make the arrangements.

A Council Officer arranges a funeral, taking into account the known wishes of the deceased. If there is an estate, then the costs of the funeral can be recovered.
Contact: Christina Martin 

Taxis -Hackney Carriages and Private Hire

All taxi (hackney carriage) and private hire vehicles, drivers and operators are licensed by Rother and Wealden Councils to ensure safety and comfort of passengers. New drivers are required to consent to a Criminal Records check (enhanced DBS), DVLA check, DSA test, local knowledge test, English proficiency test and satisfy medical requirements.
All complaints from the public are investigated. A penalty points system operates whereby a driver with more than 12 points in one year is referred to the Licensing Sub Committee or Taxi Licensing Panel. The Head of Environmental Health has the power to suspend a licence if the safety of the public is at risk, pending a decision by the Panel whether to revoke the licence. Further information is available at Taxi and Private Hire Licensing – Rother District Council and
Taxi and private hire licensing – Wealden District Council – Wealden District Council

Driving without a licence

Residents of Wadhurst contacted the Environmental Health department to report an illegal taxi operating locally.
When an Environmental Health Officer was in Wadhurst checking licensing conditions in an unrelated matter, he was stunned to see the perpetrator in action. The quick-thinking officer followed the illegal taxi in his own car and watched while he discharged the passenger at a domestic address. As the illegal taxi manoeuvred the officer recognised the driver.

The Officer approached the passenger who confirmed she had paid “the taxi driver” for her journey. The officer prepared a prosecution case. Keith Martin Leigh of Belmont House, Durgates, Wadhurst, pleaded guilty at Hasting Magistrates Court to a number of offences connected with operating an unlicensed ‘taxi’ service. The court fined him a total of £1650 including costs to Wealden DC of bringing the case to court. An illegal taxi does not have appropriate vehicle insurance nor mechanical tests and an illegal driver does not have appropriate criminal and medical checks. 

Contact details

Email: envhealth@rother.gov.uk

01424 787550

Richard Parker-Harding – Head of Environmental Health
01424 787551
Richard.parker-harding@rother.gov.uk

Duty Manager
dutyeho@rother.gov.uk

The service is divided into 3 teams.

Food and Safety Team

Email: foodhs@rother.gov.uk

Manager: Una Kane, una.kane@rother.gov.uk

The primary focus is carrying out inspections of food businesses and health and safety at work including Covid 19 security, pest and dog control.

Licensing Team

Email: licensing@rother.gov.uk

Manager: Catherine Beaumont, Catherine.beaumont@rother.gov.uk

The primary focus is dealing with administering licences.

Community Protection

Email: Pollution-pollution@rother.gov.uk
Email: Housing.conditions@rother.gov.uk

Manager: Catherine Beaumont, Catherine.beaumont@rother.gov.uk

The primary focus is on responding to complaints about anti-social behaviour such as noise and odour. We also respond to complaints from tenants about their housing conditions and can take legal action against landlords who do not act.