1. Introduction
  2. Background
  3. Mission Statement
  4. Aims and Objectives
  5. Compliance with National Policies
  6. Enforcement
  7. Authority Profile
  8. Work Achieved 2020-21 and plan for 2021-22
  9. Resources
  10. Competency and Consistency of Officers
  11. Complaints Against the Service
  12. Customer Survey
  13. Disclosure of Information
  14. Conclusion
  15. Contact Details

Introduction

This Health & Safety service plan is an expression of Rother District Council’s continuing commitment to regulating Health & Safety at work.

This service plan supplies the necessary detail for the completion of all Corporate Plans,  and contributes to the Rother DC objective of “Stronger Safer Communities” and “Sustainable Economic Prosperity” in the corporate plan for 2014-21; “a fairer society” and “development of Rother’s economy” in the draft corporate plan from 2020 to 2027.

Rother District Council commits to the joint Statement of Commitment between local authorities and HSE Regulatory Services. Statement of commitment between: Local Authority and HSE Regulatory Services – HSE

The Better Regulation Office publication ‘National Enforcement Priorities for Local Authority (LA) Regulatory Services’, placed Health and Safety at Priority number four – ‘Help people to live healthier lives by preventing ill health and harm and promoting public health’

Background

Health and Safety legislation in Great Britain is enforced by the Health and Safety Executive or one of the over 380 local authorities (LA) depending on the main activity carried out at any particular premises.  In general LA’s are the main enforcing authority for retail, wholesale distribution and warehousing, hotel and catering premises, offices, and the consumer/leisure industries.

Each local authority is an enforcing authority in its own right and must make adequate provision for enforcement.  The LA National Enforcement Code introduced in May 2013 sets out the principles that each local authority should follow to ensure a consistent, proportionate and targeted approach to regulation based on risk.

Local authorities use a number of intervention approaches to regulate and influence businesses in the management of health and safety risks including:

  • provision of advice and guidance to individual businesses or groups
  • proactive interventions including inspection
  • reactive interventions e.g. to investigate an accident or complaint.

Local authority inspectors may use enforcement powers, including formal enforcement notices, to address occupational health and safety risks and secure compliance with the law.  Prosecution action[2] may be appropriate to hold those to account for failures to safeguard health and safety Local authority enforcement – HSE and LAs Working together – HSE

Within Rother District Council this duty is carried out by Environmental Health Officers within the Environmental Health Department.

Mission Statement

‘Deliver an increasingly efficient and effective public health service which strives to promote and sustain a safe prosperous community for businesses, residents and visitors’.

Aims and Objectives

Aims:

To enable the service to use its resources in an efficient and effective way, to promote compliance with legal obligations under health and safety law, and to take robust action where there is serious non-compliance that puts the safety or health of those at work, or the public at risk.

Objectives:

  1. To contribute to the growth of local businesses through the provision of proactive and reactive advice and guidance and contributing to a level playing field for business.
  2. To investigate complaints and reports of incidents that meet the incident selection criteria and complaint handling criteria set down by HSE.
  3. To target a range of interventions on prescribed national priorities and local intelligence-based priorities.
  4. To work in partnership with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and others to deliver this service plan.
  5. To support the Primary Authority Scheme.

Compliance With National Policies

 All health and safety regulatory activity carried on by Rother District Council must conform to the requirements of the National Local Authority Enforcement Code.  The Code requires that all health and safety law enforcement is proportionate in applying the law and securing compliance; consistent in approach and targeting of enforcement action; Rother Council must be transparent and accountable about how we operate and what those regulated may expect. Rother Council must ensure that health and safety priorities and interventions are targeted in accordance with the mandatory HSE guidance – Local Authority Circular 67-2 (Revision 10).

Interventions are carried out in accordance with written procedures which reflect the nature of the activity under consideration. Officers have regard to the regulations made under Section 15 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and the codes of practice which are issued under Section 16 of the Act, when enforcing the provisions of the Act.

In accordance with HSE and LGA advice issued 1st April 2011, food hygiene and health and safety interventions will be joined where appropriate to minimise burdens on local businesses.

RDC has adopted an Equality Policy and the Environmental Health Service carried out an equality impact assessment and is currently carrying out equality monitoring. The results of the monitoring will determine future policy in this area.

This plan provides a documented system for officers’ guidance and information and to facilitate inter authority or peer review audits.

Enforcement

Rother District Council recognises the emphasis placed on enforcement by the guidance of the HSE and LG Regulation (published in May 2011), in particular the need for enforcement action to ‘Maintain a strong deterrent against those who fail to meet their H&S obligations and put their employees at material risk thereby also deriving an unfair competitive advantage’ .

Rother District Council adopted an enforcement policy for the shared Environmental Health service in October 2014, Cabinet minute 14/31 is available at: EH Enforcement Policy

Officers carry out enforcement in line with this enforcement policy as well as being guided by the Health and Safety Executive’s Enforcement Policy Statement and the Enforcement Management Model. Service standards and this plan can be found on our Service standards page

Authority Profile

Rother’s District has a population of approximately 96,080 and covers an area of 511.8 Km2 (ONS 2019).  It comprises rural, coastal and urban areas with three main towns – Bexhill, Battle and Rye.  The businesses within the district reflect this diversity with care, tourism and leisure being the largest sectors.

Ordnance Survey Map of Rother

Bexhill, the main urban development, has a significant care industry which is manifest in a high number of care homes. Battle is a year-round tourist destination.   Rye and Camber are popular summer tourist attractions with Rye Harbour the location of several industrial estates.  Battle, Robertsbridge and Rye all hold large annual bonfire celebrations in November which are distinct to this area.

Health and Safety work is carried out by officers who also conduct food hygiene inspections, infectious disease investigations, commercial and residential caravan site licensing, kennel and cattery licensing, risk assess private water supplies, pest control and stray dog control.  A decision making and overview and scrutiny structure is available overleaf.

The team operates from the Town Hall Bexhill on Sea and the Civic Offices Hailsham from 8 30 am to 5pm Monday to Friday. The service operates an agile working system. Planned out-of-hour work is undertaken and emergency calls are received by a standby system currently operated by Cornwall Council on 01424 787868.

Rother District Council Structure

Rother District Council
Rother District Council
Cabinet
Cabinet
Licensing & General Purposes
Licensing & Gene…
Planning
Planning
Audit & Standard
Audit & Standard
Overview and Scrutiny Committee
Overview and Scr…
Chief Executive
Mr Malcolm Johnson
Chief Executive…
Service Manager of Environmental Health, Licensing and Community Safety

Mr Richard Parker-Harding
Service Manager of Environmental Health, Licensing and Commun…
Food and Safety Team (FAST) 
Community Protection Team
Licensing Team
Community Safety
Food and Safety Team (FAST)…
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Work Achieved 2020-21 and Plan for 2021-22

The following work plan has been prepared in accordance with the National LA Enforcement Code, and Local Authority Circular 67/2 (rev 10).  It seeks to use a range of interventions.

Provision of advice and guidance

  1. Rother DC offers advice to business through its Support and advice page
    There is a range of local and national advice including specific information for rural businesses, local partnerships and regeneration projects.
  2. Rother District Council offers support for those starting up new businesses at our Advice, support and training page
    Environmental Health Officers offer advice on health and safety at work including those thinking of starting a new business. 
    Health and safety – the basics for business – is at Health and safety at work – the basics for business
  3. The Environmental Health service has prepared specific health and safety advise on safe re opening of businesses during the Covid 19 pandemic at Support and Advice for Business during the Covid 19 pandemic – Revised April 2021
  4. Free to download posters have been created by the Environmental Health team available at Covid-19 signs for businesses to display for customers and staff
Examples of Covid-19 posters created for businesses by Rother District Council asking customers to stay 2m apart and to use contactless

Proactive Interventions – Covid 19

  1. The year 2020 – 21 was extraordinary because of the global pandemic. No proactive inspections were planned as the priority of the Environmental Health service was the safety of all Rother communities from Covid 19. The service concentrated on giving advice and support to all business to control the risk of Covid 19 within their business. When it was safe to do so, officers made proactive inspections to assess Covid security.
  2. From the beginning of the pandemic a dedicated webpage was established to give business information on their legal status whether they could open, advising of the Covid security measures that should be in place or whether they should be closed. As the year unfolded there were multiple occasions when the webpage changed to reflect the changing restrictions; 1 May 2020, 13 May, 1 June, 16 June, 4 July 24th July 20th August 9th September 6th October 17 and 17 December. THE HEALTH PROTECTION (CORONAVIRUS, RESTRICTIONS) (Steps and OTHER PROVISIONS) (England) (AMENDMENTS) Regulations 2021
  3. At various stages mass emails were sent to businesses with specific advice on the Covid requirements (e.g. wearing of face coverings, obligation to take customers details). Emails were sent to businesses by group to help prepare for re-opening with helpful checklists for hairdressers, beauticians, caravan sites, licensed premises etc in total 2000 advisory mass emails were sent in 2020 – 21.
  4. When it was safe to do so, proactive inspections were made of specific groups of businesses to assess Covid security. Forty medium size retailers were inspected in January 2021. Slightly less than half did not have the required signage to inform customers to wear a face covering. Only a half had queue management in place to make sure the numbers inside the store were controlled.  A further third did not have hand hygiene/sanitiser at the entrance. Each was given advice on how to comply and revisits made to check this was done.
    Twelve major supermarkets were inspected in January 2021. All had adequate risk assessments, but a minority had not fully implemented their own measures specifically around reminding customers to wear face coverings and sanitising of trolley handles. Eight garden centres were inspected in March 2021. The standards were very good, there was clear signage, adequate space for customers to observe social distancing and good standards of cleanliness and ventilation. Total proactive inspections done;60.
A 2m social distancing poster on a shop door
3 Covid-19 posts outside a shop asking people to wear a mask, stay 2m apart and to use hand sanitiser
2 Covid-19 posts asking people to social distance and use hand sanitiser

Safety Advisory Groups

Traditional Sussex bonfires and firework displays are held throughout the district. The Coronavirus legislation restricting public gathering prevented the traditional bonfires from occurring in 2020. Some choose to cancel in advance, others chose to present a virtual event.

At the time of writing, a gathering of thirty or more people is unlawful. This could mean that bonfire celebrations in 2021 may be very limited by measures to control Covid 19. Plans are in place to hold online meetings with bonfire societies in July and to advise each organisation for their circumstances.

Investigation of Incidents and Complaints

  1. All reported accidents, incidents (RIDDOR or adverse insurance reports) and complaints are subjected to the HSE’s incident selection criteria and complaints handling criteria.  This means that each complaint is investigated if it poses a significant risk to safety or health. The full policy is available at Food and Health and Safety Complaint Investigation Policy

Thirty-one accidents at work were reported to Rother District Council in 2020 – 21. All were relatively minor matters which did not require regulatory intervention.

Six hundred and forty-one complaints (641) about health and safety were received from members of the public in 2020 – 21.  The vast majority of these were about Covid security. Members of the public were concerned about lack of social distancing, lack of face coverings, lack of cleaning and disinfection. Two thirds of these concerns were addressed by phone and email. One hundred and fifty (150) visits were made to investigate the most serious of these complaints. When contraventions were confirmed, businesses were given a short time period to comply and eighty-one revisits were made to ensure that compliance was maintained.

Six health and safety enforcement notices were issued in 2020 – 21. All required immediate measures to be put in place to control Covid 19 in workplaces. All were complied with promptly.

Seventy-five (75) visits made to businesses in response to requests for health and safety advice on Covid 19 risk assessments etc.

Bar chart of Health and Safety Interventions 2020-21 - 641 Covid Complaints, 150 Investigative Visits, 75 Advisory Visits, 81 Compliance Revisits

Plan for 2021-22

Covid 19 will continue as our priority in 2021 – 22, giving advise to businesses, responding to complaints from the public, making proactive inspections and enforcement where necessary.

We will deliver two projects from the HSE priority list – safety of inflatables amusement devices and raising awareness of the need to prevent injury to members of the public from accessing large commerical bins and recyling bins. (HSE National Priorities 4 and 11). There have been a few serious incidents where inflatable amusement devices have collapsed or blown away in windy conditions. Inflatables can be found at many local premises and we will raise awareness of the general risks associated with the operation of such devices. That devices are correctly anchored to the ground, there are suitable arrangements for measuring wind conditions at regular intervals, there is written documentation from a competent inspection body to show it complies with British Standard BS EN 14960.

There have been numerous cases where members of the public have gained access to commercial bins for shelter and then been injured or killed when those bins were emptied into collection and compaction vehicles. We will raise awareness of the need to manage the risks of unsecured access to bins.

Working with Other Regulators

The Food and Safety team worked with Sussex Police on Covid 19 issues particularly in relation to licensed premises through 2020 -21. The priority was the safe reopening of licensed premises on 4th July 2020 as a matter of public health and safety.  At the time there were concerns about the public reaction to the re-opening of pubs after a sustained period of closure, drunkenness, disorder, noise, vandalism etc. These fears were not realised in Rother.

From the start of the lockdown social media messages, letters and emails were used to inform licensed premises of what they could and could not do.

A post on Rother District Council's Facebook page reminding pubs they can't serve food or drink on their premises
A post on Rother District Council's twitter account saying officers will be out making sure pubs, restaurants and shops are complying with Covid-19 rules

17 April 2020 Letter

A letter sent to all licensed premises on 17 April 2020 letter contained a warning to licensees that a breach of the Coronavirus Restriction Regulations 2020 could lead to a review of their premises licence. This warning was instrumental in the review of the licence for the Red Lion Inn Brede.

The Environmental Health Manager (Food and Safety) applied for a review of the premises licence of The Red Lion Inn Brede following breaches of the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restriction) (England) Regulations 2020 and Licensing Act 2003 in May 2020, risking public safety, crime and disorder.

On Friday 8th May 2020 and Saturday 9th May six separate reports were made by the public to Sussex Police alleging consumption of alcohol in the Red Lion Inn, located in Brede. At this time gatherings of two or more people from different households were banned as was the consumption of food and drink on licenced premises.  A member of the public uploaded footage of drinkers outside the Red Lion Inn on 8th May 2020 to social media. Sussex Police Constables were sent to The Red Lion Inn to disperse the group of drinkers.

Still photograph taken from video uploaded by a member of the public onto social media – 8th May 2020 – when gatherings of two or people from different households, were banned.
Still photograph taken from video uploaded by a member of the public onto social media – 8th May 2020 – when gatherings of two or people from different households, were banned.

PC R Jeffrey provided evidence to Rother’s licensing panel that on 8th May 2020 the Red Lion Inn Brede, a licensed premise was open. On arrival, he had seen approximately a dozen, predominantly male, drinkers outside the Red Lion. He stated there were half empty plates of food on large trays. Police officers were heckled by several the drinkers for ‘spoiling their party’. PC Jeffrey described the group as being under the influence of alcohol with several showing signs of sunburn consistent with them being outside all day in the sun. When he approached the licensee and Designated Premises Supervisor (DPS), he observed her to be unsteady on her feet, her speech slurred and witnessed her pour herself a large spirit from the optics. The licensee said that she was raising money for NHS workers and “did not think that giving the beer away in return for a donation was in breach of the regulations”. PC Jeffrey observed small piles of cash on the bar, including one beside a full pint. There were no posters or flyers advertising a fund raiser.

There was no exemption in the regulations to allow for fund raising activities.

Further pictures taken from video as uploaded to social media by a member of the public.
Another picture taken from video as uploaded to social media by a member of the public.

Knowledge of the event was widespread on social media with many angry comments. These were serious legitimate concerns for public health and safety, at a time of a global pandemic. The goading by one of the drinkers could incite violence especially as peoples’ identity are visible online;

“Please tell me something is going to be done about the red lion in Brede!!!! Videos all over Facebook of people drinking outside the pub and the pub OPEN during lock down!!! As a pub owner myself please tell me what is stopping us doing it if there are no consequences!!! Absolutely disgusting!! If nothing is done, I can’t see anyone else sticking to the rules as it’s not fair! We all want to be the heart of our community but without killing them all from Covid 19 at the same time! PLEASE make an example of them!”

“OMG!!! The pub should have their grant taken off them!! What a cheek! Expect they are claiming furlough money as well!!!”

“I was there, I waved to the camera” in reply “I hope you don’t catch it then”

The Decision

The Panel were satisfied that the evidence showed the premises was selling or supplying alcohol, in defiance of the regulations, irrespective of the attempt to collect charitable donations. The Panel were satisfied, on balance, that the evidence of the police constable in connection with the intoxication of the licensee was believable and showed little regard for the responsibilities she owed considering the serious breaches that were taking place at the premises.

The premises licence holder was represented at the meeting but choose not to speak, the panel expressed their opinion that they would have been interested to hear from her.

The Panel were satisfied the Council had made it perfectly clear in their letter of 17 April 2020 there would be consequences were a business to defy the regulations. They were satisfied that the cause of the whole issue was the poor management of the premises. In that regard, the Panel considered it was an appropriate sanction that the licensee and DPS should be removed as the DPS for the Red Lion Inn, Brede.

The video of the hearing and the decision notice can be seen at Agenda for Licensing and General Purposes Committee – General Licensing Panel on Friday 21st August 2020, 10.30 am

Resources

The number of full-time equivalent officers allocated to work on health and safety regulatory activity is 1.6 Officers Authorised under the Health and Safety at Work Act,

Environmental Health OfficerAdditional QualificationLevel of Authorisation InspectionLevel of Authorisation Enforcement
PAGE   DavidEHORB Registration Env Health Degree Chartered EHPC-EFull
HOYLAND RichardEnv Health Degree EHORB RegistrationA-EFull  
KANE UnaMSc Env Health Degree EHORB registration Lead Assessor Chartered EHPA-EFull
PAGE SarahEnv Health Degree EHORB Registration Chartered EHPA-EFull
WAKEFORD ClaireEnv Health Degree EHORB RegistrationA-EFull
POWELL JamieEnv Health Degree EHORB RegistrationA-EFull
WRIGHT PhilipEnv Health Degree EHORB RegistrationA-EFull

Environmental Health Officers outside the Food, Safety team who are also authorised:

SurnameFirstnameJob Title
PARKER-HARDINGRichardHead of Environmental Health  
EDWARDSSimonSenior Environmental Health Officer  
RANDOLPHMarkSenior Environmental Health Officer
SMITHSueSenior Environmental Health Officer
MINNSGregorySenior Environmental Health Officer
BEAUMONTCathyDeputy head of Environmental Health

The Service activities are recorded on M3, in accordance with HSE instructions. LAC 67/2 (revision 10).  Each planned intervention is reviewed as part of this service plan. In addition to material available on the HSE’s general website and secure Extranet site, a library of law encyclopaedias and reference books is maintained in the office. The service subscribes to RIAMS an online resource for local authority Environmental health departments.

Competency and Consistency of Officers

It is essential that officers are well informed and knowledgeable in health and safety matters. Competency of all officers is judged against HSC (G) 4 “Standards of Competency”, using a matrix developed by the Sussex Health and Safety Liaison Group. This group includes all Sussex local authorities that are responsible for regulating health and safety and includes a representative from the HSE.  It encourages sharing of knowledge and expertise and develops joint resources. Rother DC continues to attend and support the Sussex Health and Safety Liaison Group. 

Annual appraisals are conducted to review performance and to identify specific training needs. Officers attend training days, county liaison meetings and food and safety team meetings.  Through 2020 -21 team meetings were held every week online.   

Complaints Against Service

Rother operates a local complaints procedure which allows anyone dissatisfied with the Council’s service to pursue their complaint and expect a quick response. No complaints were made against the service in 2020 – 21

Customer Survey

A proportion of businesses are contacted online to seek their views on how we perform. These responses are collated and contribute to the performance management monitoring and reporting carried out by the Environmental Health Service. This includes acting where performance does not meet the expected standards.

Disclosure of Information

It is Rother’s policy that disclosures will be made on receipt of a written application under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

Conclusion

This Service Plan has been authorised by the Head of Service, following consultation with the Cabinet Portfolio Holder.

It is published on our website and in the Members’ Bulletin.

Signed: R. Parker-Harding
Mr R Parker-Harding BSc (Hons) MSc DMS MCIEH AMIOA
Chartered Environmental Health Practitioner
Head of Service- Environmental Services, Licensing and Community Safety

Dated: 7 July 2021

Signed; K Field
Councillor K Field
Cabinet Portfolio Holder

Dated: 7 July 2021

Contact Details

Address:         Town Hall, Bexhill-on-Sea, East Sussex TN39 3JX
Website:          www.rother.gov.uk
E-mail:            foodhs@rother.gov.uk
Telephone:      01424-787000