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Waverley Borough Council Committee System - Committee Document

Meeting of the Executive held on 04/07/2001

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1. The review will examine the Council’s role in the provision of the Environmental Health service in Waverley.

The review will aim to answer the following principle questions:

Given that the Council is obliged to provide most aspects of the Environmental Health service, does the extent of the Council’s support for the provision of the service reflect the mandatory requirements of central government and the value that the community places upon the service? Is the Council’s support for Environmental Health services effectively and efficiently delivered? Does the emphasis placed on each aspect of the Environmental Health service truly reflect the needs and wishes of the community? How could the Council improve the service offered by Environmental Health and how should those improvements be measured?

What are the existing barriers to providing an efficient and effective Environmental Health service and how may these barriers be removed?

Service Coverage

2. The review will cover the following elements:

Food Safety – The commercial environmental health team promotes and enforces principles of food safety within food premises in the borough. They also participate in a programme of food sampling in order to assess food safety standards.

Communicable Disease Control – The commercial environmental health team works to investigate cases of communicable disease occurring or originating from within the borough and implements controls to reduce spread of infection.

Occupational Health & Safety – The commercial environmental health team promotes and enforces principles of good occupational health and safety within certain categories of Waverley based businesses. It is also responsible for the investigation of notifiable accidents and incidents in these premises.

Environmental Protection – The commercial environmental health team promotes and enforces legislation to deal with pollution from commercial based premises within Waverley through the authorisation of prescribed (high polluting) premises and through assessment of statutory nuisance.

Licensing – The commercial environmental health team administers certain licensing functions including butchers shops, dog breeders, animal boarding establishments, pet shops, premises and persons carrying on ear piercing, acupuncture and electrolysis. The team also plays an active role in public entertainment license consultation.

Housing Standards – The residential environmental health team deals with privately owned and rented houses which are in disrepair or unfit.

Home Improvement Grants – The residential environmental health team implements a capital programme for grants including disabled facilities grants, housing renewal grants and home repair assistance.

Drainage – The residential environmental health team is responsible for resolving problems arising from blocked or defective drains or private sewers, cesspits and septic tanks.

Caravan Site Licensing – The residential environmental health team is responsible for licensing caravan sites within the borough and enforcing minimum site conditions.

Pest Control – The section provides a chargeable pest control service and implements controls for pests which are of public health significance such as vermin.

Animal Control – The section provides an animal control service to collect stray dogs and to enforce dog control bylaws and other animal welfare issues.

Energy Conservation – The residential environmental health team promotes domestic energy efficiency in order to meet government targets.

Air Quality – The residential environmental health team monitors and assesses air quality within the borough to ensure that government targets are met.

Home Improvement Agency – The section provides a home improvement agency to support vulnerable people in maintaining, improving or adapting their homes.

Health Improvement Programme – The section works in cooperation with the primary care group and relevant partners to improve the health of residents in the borough.

Drinking Water – The residential environmental health team inspects and samples sources of water from private supplies to ensure that they are clean and safe to drink.

Contaminated Land – The residential environmental health team is in the process of implementing Waverley’s contaminated land strategy requiring identification, assessment and remediation of appropriate sites. The section also responds to contaminated land enquiries which form part of local searches.
3. The Council’s total expenditure on Environmental Health as shown in the 2001/02 budget book is 548,090. The review will include an analysis of the use of the Council’s other assets, including property, in the delivery of these services. It will also examine possibilities for reducing costs where appropriate. 4. The review will examine each of these areas of activity to test the extent to which they are justified and the extent to which they are efficient in using the resources currently made available. 5. In this way it will be possible to meet the requirements of the best value review process in respect of the “four C’s”, in particular as follows:- Challenge 6. The majority of the current Environmental Health service functions are mandatory and as such the Council has a duty to provide them. The review will define the overall scope of this diverse service and identity those aspects for which there is a statutory obligation. 7. The review will examine how we provide each aspect of the service and the resource levels utilised to support it. Existing practices and procedures will be scrutinised and challenged to ensure they are commensurate with providing a cost effective, efficient and quality service to our customers. Key to this process is to think the unthinkable and to identify innovative service delivery techniques.

8. The service will participate in bench marking exercises which will provide evidence regarding its comparative performance against other Local Authority Environmental Health Departments. This will include processes, as well as outcomes.

9. Information regarding service scope, costs, staffing and related issues will be sought from other Local Authorities which are similar in nature and which serve similar population centres. Environmental Health Departments vary in the service subject areas which they cover and this will affect the measurable aspects of their operation in ways which need to be carefully considered if misleading comparisons are to be avoided.

10. The extent of Council resourcing and CIPFA information for the Environmental Health service will also be assessed and compared with other authorities in relevant family groupings.


11. Consultation will take place with those individuals and organisations that have an association or stakeholder interest in the Environmental Health service. Stakeholders include users of the service such as businesses, complainants who reside in the borough, complainants residing outside the borough, other Council departments, other Local Authority Environmental Health Departments and Central Government Departments. Users of the Environmental Health service will be consulted regarding the quality of their experience and their perception of the value it provided. In addition, the Citizen’s Panel will be used to seek out the views of those who never, or very infrequently utilise the service.


12. The bulk of Environmental Health services are provided directly by the Council. This aspect of the review will assess alternative ways of providing the service, such as commissioning external services, alternative ways to work, partnership possibilities and so on. The cost effectiveness of the current service will be balanced against the service demands and requirements for quality and performance identified during the challenge, compare and consultation phases.

Links with Appropriate Waverley Strategies 13. This Fundamental Service Review will relate to other Waverley Strategies and Plans, particularly Corporate and Service Plans, the Community Strategy and any specific service strategies.

14. In addition, Waverley is statutorily obliged to prepare and submit an Asset Management Plan along with its Capital Strategy. This has to be submitted annually by the end of July, and is designed to demonstrate that the Council is taking a strategic approach to the use of its property assets in the provision of its services.

15. It is therefore essential that the use of property for the provision of services will form an intrinsic part of this review along with other Plans and Strategies. It has been made clear that Best Value Inspectors will be looking for this.

16. The following Plans and Strategies will also be considered in the process of reviewing this service:

Local Agenda 21 Strategy Recycling Plan Car Parking Strategy Housing Strategy Statement Local Plan Community Safety Strategy Opportunities For All Strategy


17. A provisional outline of the proposed timetable is illustrated in the Gantt chart attached to this report. It is intended that the review will be completed by the 31st of March 2002. The review has three main phases:

Phase 1 – Data Collection/Information Gathering

18. This phase will include:

Identifying all key stakeholders who need to be consulted; Establishing the role for Members and other stakeholders in the review;

Identifying appropriate consultation mechanisms, the extent of the consultation process and implementing them. Defining the existing scope of the service and scrutinising existing practices and procedures;

Using the Excellence Model, examine elements of the service; Identifying and gathering relevant performance data;

Bench-marking with other local authorities; Investigating current examples of good practice; Investigating alternative ways of providing the service.

Phase 2 – Analysis

19. This phase will include:

Analysing responses to the “challenge” and consultation exercises;

Analysing the outcomes of bench marking, Excellence Model and performance measurement exercises;

Identifying the key issues for change to improve performance.

Phase 3 – Recommendations

20. This phase will include:

Preparing the report of the review team;

Discussing the implications of change with key stakeholders such as members;

Seeking approval fro changes which are considered desirable.

Service Review Group

21. The Service Review Group will consist of:

Martin Shorten – Head of Environment Services
Suzanne Robinson – Environmental Health Manager (Commercial)
Robert Wood – Environmental Health Manager (Residential)
Michelle Thrower – Senior Environmental Health Officer
Paula Mackenzie – Administrative Assistant

22. Other staff from within the Environment and Leisure Department and the Chief Executive’s Department may need to be involved depending on the nature of the work which the review group is undertaken.

Resource Issues

23. All of the staff involved in the service review group are responsible to a greater or lesser degree for front line services and whilst engaged in work on the service review they will not be available to maintain existing work-programmes. It is foreseeable that this will affect the ability of the section to conduct food hygiene inspections for which a statutory performance indicator exists requiring 100% of premises due for inspection to be visited. It is also foreseeable that reallocation of staff to FSR type work will impact on the ability of the service to deal with complaints, investigate accidents and investigate infectious diseases. These are all areas which have a clear and direct impact on the health and well being of Waverley residents. It will therefore be necessary to make provision for additional staff time and external consultant support services to provide cover for the work on the service review group. It is estimated that two full time equivalent members of staff at the level of basic grade environmental health officers will be required for a period of 5 months in order to maintain essential regulatory service levels while the review is undertaken. Due to the lack of qualified environmental health professionals in the area and the ever increasing cost of agency staff, this is likely to cost at least 20,000.