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Waverley Borough Council Committee System - Committee Document

Meeting of the Executive held on 04/09/2007
Minutes




Executive 47
04.09.07
WAVERLEY BOROUGH COUNCIL
MINUTES OF THE MEETING OF THE EXECUTIVE – 4TH SEPTEMBER 2007

SUBMITTED TO THE COUNCIL MEETING – 16TH OCTOBER 2007

(To be read in conjunction with the Agenda for the Meeting)
*Cllr R J Gates (Chairman)*Cllr D J Munro
*Cllr Mrs P M Frost (Vice-Chairman)*Cllr S N Reynolds
*Cllr M H W Band*Cllr J R Sandy
*Cllr B A Ellis*Cllr R J Steel
*Cllr D C Inman *Cllr A E B Taylor-Smith
* Present

Cllr V Duckett attended the meeting and spoke on Agenda Items 7 and 10
Cllrs K T Reed and Mrs D M James were also in attendance

60. MINUTES (Agenda Item 2)

The Minutes of the Meeting of the Executive held on 10th July 2007 were confirmed and signed.

61. APOLOGY FOR ABSENCE (Agenda Item 3)

An apology for absence was received from the Chief Executive.

62. DISCLOSURES OF INTEREST (Agenda Item 4)

Cllr R J Steel declared a personal interest as the Ward Councillor for East Street and Cllr M H W Band declared a personal interest in Agenda Item 14 (Appendix H) relating to Dunsfold Park as he had recently received hospitality at the Wings and Wheels Event held at the site, and Cllr V Duckett declared a personal interest in Agenda Item 7 as a former farmer and Member of the National Farmers’ Union.

63. QUESTIONS (Agenda Item 5)

In accordance with Procedure Rule 10, Mr J Hyman of Farnham asked the following question:-

“Council Leader. For some years, Crest Nicholson have maintained that they could not possibly offer a viable development containing less than 294 homes, yet in what might be considered 'the final minutes of extra time', we are now told that their claimed 'bare minimum' is in fact 227.

The Leader of the Council responded:-
PART I - RECOMMENDATIONS TO THE COUNCIL

64. SCHEME OF OFFICER DELEGATION - ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH FUNCTION (Agenda Item 12; Appendix F)

64.1 This item identifies new legislation for which delegated authority is recommended as well as identifying existing gaps in delegation that hinder the effective operation of the Environmental Health Service.

64.2 Section 101 of the 1972 Local Government Act provides that a local authority may arrange for the discharge of any of their functions by (inter alia) a Committee, a Sub-Committee or an officer of the authority. Failure to arrange for the discharge of functions by delegation does not generally give rise to an implied delegation at law: specific delegation to officers is required. Any officer purporting to exercise functions that, although conferred by statute upon local authorities, have not been specifically delegated by Members to officers, may be acting ultra vires and any such officer’s actions may be void at law. Once a function is delegated to an officer, however, there is a generally implied discretion conferred upon that officer to decide upon further delegation (but with such decisions being open to challenge for abuse of discretion).

64.3 The work of the officers in the Food, Health and Safety Team (Environmental Health Section) covers a wide range of food related issues. The officers carry out inspections of businesses preparing, manufacturing, catering, or retailing of food. Certain food manufacturers can be approved to trade under specific legislation, which allows them to supply food to other retail outlets and to trade. If problems are identified during an inspection, officers can take action to protect the public. This can include:

Taking samples and photographs and inspecting business records
Writing to the food business operator informally, asking them to rectify problems
Serving a ‘Hygiene Improvement Notice’, which clearly states what the problem/offence is, what must be done to put it right and the time period for compliance. Failure to comply with the notice is an offence and normally results in prosecution.
Serving an ‘Hygiene Emergency Prohibition Notice’ which forbids the use of premises or equipment
Detain or seize suspect foods
Recommending a prosecution in serious cases.

64.4 The implementation of European-led food hygiene legislation in January last year required the Food Standards Agency (FSA) to provide information and guidance to Local Authorities on the authorisation of officers for food legislation. The new food legislation opened up concerns whether a general or specific approach to authorisation under each relevant food and feed statutory instrument of the European Communities Act 1972 was required. Previously, food hygiene regulations and delegation arrangements and officer authorisations had been based upon the Food Safety Act 1990, which all but disappeared for food hygiene purposes with the advent of the European-based regulations.

64.6 The Food Standards Agency funded the Local Authority Co-ordinators of Regulatory Services organisation (LACORS) to undertake an independent review of legislation relating to delegation of powers and food law enforcement. The review, “LACORS Advice on Local Authority Delegated Powers and the Authorisation of Officers for Food and Feed Law Enforcement” included:

Research on current local authority practice.
Research on all relevant legislation and guidance.
Widespread consultation with local authorities and the LACORS law and evidence focus group.
Independent legal opinion on the robustness of the advice.

64.7 The results of the review were made available in January this year for local authorities to consider. The difficulties posed to Local Authorities by using a specific approach would require each change of legislation to require Member approval and cause delays in authorisation with implications for enforcement and open up the prospect of successful challenges against enforcement action taken. The review concluded that authorities should adopt a general approach to the authorisation of Officers using a carefully worded delegation scheme and authorisation template was provided in the review.

64.8 The findings of the LACORS review mean that changes are needed to the delegation arrangements and authorisation of officers undertaking food work at Waverley to keep arrangements properly in line with current requirements. A proposed suitable scheme of delegation is set out in Annexe 1.

64.9 Section 16 of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976 allows the Council to require an individual to state in writing the nature of their interest in a piece of land or premises. This is a useful provision that is used by the Environmental Health Section to establish whom may be a responsible person(s) when undertaking their duties. The signing of the document was formerly delegated to the Chief Executive but now a greater volume of notices are being issued it is more practical for them to be signed by Officers in Environmental Health who are familiar with the cases. In order to improve the efficiency of this action, it is requested that the Council’s Officer Scheme of Delegation be revised as detailed in Annexe 1. This improvement in efficiency would also allow an improved service to members of the public.

64.10 Section 29 of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982 allows the Council to ensure that action is taken so that empty buildings are not open to unauthorised access or present a danger to public health. The signing of the document was formerly delegated to the Chief Executive. Cases that require such action are often urgent matters and it would be more practical for Officers in Environmental Health who are familiar with the cases to sign them. In order to improve the efficiency of this action, it is requested that the Council’s Officer Scheme of Delegation be revised as detailed in Annexe 1. This improvement in efficiency would also allow an improved service to members of the public.

64.11 The Executive accordingly

RECOMMENDS that
65. PAYMENT OF COUNSEL’S FEES - DUNSFOLD PARK LIMITED (Agenda Item 14; Appendix H)

65.1 Following investigations undertaken by the Council’s Environmental Health Section, a Noise Abatement Notice, under the provisions of Environmental Protection Act 1990, was served on Dunsfold Park Limited in January 2006, concerning statutory noise nuisance from motor vehicles which was witnessed by your officers. Officers considered that a statutory nuisance was established and were thus obliged by law to serve the notice.

65.2 Dunsfold Park Limited exercised its right to appeal against the Notice. The court of appeal against the serving of a Noise Abatement Notice is the local Magistrates’ Court. On this occasion a Judge heard the appeal and both sides were represented by barristers who were Queen’s Counsel, who were in each case assisted by junior counsel. The case was heard at Guildford Magistrates’ Court and concluded on Friday 12th January 2007. The Court upheld the appeal in favour of Dunsfold Park, quashed the Noise Abatement Notice and awarded costs against Waverley Borough Council.

65.3 Following this decision, Dunsfold Park Limited proposed 145,183 legal costs. Waverley’s counter-proposal of 65,000 was accepted by Dunsfold Park Limited and was paid following authorisation by the Executive meeting held in April 2007.

65.4 It was then stated that your officers would report further in due course once the issue of the cost of in-house Counsel had been taxed. These fees have been the subject of negotiations between your officers and Counsels’ clerks, and are now proposed at 54,450 for the Council’s QC in the matter and 23,675 for his junior counsel. Both these sums are exclusive of VAT.

65.5 The Executive agreed to authorise the Director of Finance, on behalf of Waverley Borough Council, to settle Counsels’ fees and to meet the costs from the general fund balances and accordingly
PARTS II AND III - MATTERS OF REPORT

Background Papers

Part II – Matters Reported in Detail for the Information of the Council

There were no matters falling within this category.

Part III – Brief Summaries of Other Matters Dealt With

66. EXECUTIVE FOUR-MONTH ROLLING PROGRAMME (Agenda Item 6; Appendix A)

1. the addition of the following items:-

67. FOOT AND MOUTH DISEASE UPDATE (Agenda Item 7)

The Executive received a detailed report from the Director of Finance and

2. thanked all Waverley staff for their efforts; and

68. EAST STREET - REPORT FROM THE SPECIAL INTEREST GROUP (Agenda Item 8; Appendix B)

69. BUDGET MONITORING - JULY 2007 (Agenda Item 9; Appendix C)

RESOLVED that the current monitoring position for the General Fund Revenue Account, Housing Revenue Account and Capital Programme be noted.

70. SPONSORED ORGANISATION SCHEME 2008/09 - GRANT ELIGIBILITY, CRITERIA AND TIMETABLE (Agenda Item 10; Appendix D)

RESOLVED that

71. NEW COMMITTEE ROOM SCHEME (Agenda Item 11; Appendix E)

RESOLVED that

1. the scheme to provide a new accessible Committee Room be approved; 2. a first resolution in accordance with Regulation 3 of the Town and Country Planning (General) Regulations 1992 be approved to allow a planning application to be submitted for the new Committee Room; and 3. subject to planning approval, the cost of the scheme following the tender exercise, be reported back to the Executive for approval, with a target report date of 8th January 2008.

72. REVIEW OF POLLING DISTRICTS AND POLLING PLACES (Agenda Item 13; Appendix G)

RESOLVED that authority be delegated to the Chief Executive to conduct the review of polling districts and polling places and any proposals be reported to the Council at its meeting on 16th October 2007, via the Executive.

73. CALL-IN REPORT BACK - MUSEUM OF FARNHAM GARDEN CLASSROOM (Agenda Item 15)

RESOLVED that the update report be noted.

74. ESTABLISHMENT OF A RESTRUCTURING SPECIAL INTEREST GROUP (Agenda Item 16)

[At this point in the meeting, all Directors present declared personal and prejudicial interests in the item and withdrew from the Chamber during consideration of the item].

RESOLVED that
To receive the Chief Executive’s (HOPS) proposals on a new senior management structure for Waverley Borough Council
To act as a ‘sounding board’ on those proposals
To examine the financial and operational implications of any changes; and Cllr Mrs P M Frost (Portfolio Holder)
Cllr M Causey
Cllr Mrs P Ellis
Cllr R J Gates
Cllr P B Isherwood
Cllr D M James
Cllr S N Mulliner
Cllr K T Reed.

75. SURREY LOCAL GOVERNMENT ASSOCIATION - APPOINTMENTS TO AD HOC BODIES (Agenda Item 17)

RESOLVED that the appointment of Cllr Mrs P Ellis to the Surrey Local Government Association Supporting People Commissioning Body be noted.

76. APPOINTMENT OF TRUSTEES TO KNIGHTS WRECCLESHAM ALMSHOUSES (Agenda Item 18)

RESOLVED that

77. ACTION TAKEN SINCE THE LAST MEETING (Agenda Item 19)
The meeting commenced at 6.45 p.m. and concluded at 7.49 p.m.


Chairman
Comms/exec/2007-08/113