To consider the monitoring report on the delivery of the Service Plans for the period 1st April to 30th June 2022.
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With the assistance of a report by the Interim Community Services Manager, the Committee received an update on progress made against the delivery of work on the Council’s Food Law Enforcement and Health and Safety Plans during the period 1st April to 30th June 2022.
By way of introduction, the Committee were reminded that the Service Plans for 2022/23 had been adopted by the Committee at their last meeting in June 2022.
With regards to the programmed activity within the Food Safety Plan, the Committee were advised that the inspection programme for 2022-23 was being completed in line with the Food Standard Agency’s Recovery Plan, Members were pleased to note that following a ‘temperature check’ in June 2022, all expectations set out in Phase 2 of the Recovery Plan had been met. Attention was now moving to inspections of ‘Category C’ premises and Members were advised that it was hoped to make progress in working through this backlog. Officers also reported that although progress against the Alternative Enforcement Strategy was currently at ‘Red’, this was not an immediate concern given the very low risk nature of these premises.
In reviewing this information, Members commented upon the decline in standards which was being seen as a result of the absence of food hygiene inspections during the pandemic which was leading to longer inspection times. Although it was difficult to quantify the additional time which this was taking officers, further work could be undertaken to review this if required.
Questions were also raised with regards to the levels of predicted activity within the Plan for both Programmed Food Hygiene Inspections and Alternative Enforcement Strategy and the actions which were being taken to improve the RAG status of those tasks currently indicated as Red. Members were advised that the numbers were due to the suspension of the inspection programme during the pandemic and the requirements of the Food Standards Agency Recovery Plan.
Turning to the unplanned / reactive activities which had been undertaken within the quarter, the Committee were informed that the number of customer complaints and service requests had been slightly less than anticipated based on previous years. Officers had also been participating in the UK Health Security Agency’s sampling study – ‘Hygiene in Takeaway Sandwich and Salad bars’, which was commended by a member of the committee. ‘In person’ food hygiene training courses had also returned, with one scheduled to take place in October 2022 subject to their being sufficient interest.
The Committee were advised that health and safety activity had been concentrated around the provision of advice to event organisers through the Safety Advisory Group. There had been a number of large events within the District during this period, which had taken a considerable amount of time. In addition, 10 health and safety accidents had also been investigated. It was now hoped to commence more targeted activities within the next quarter.
In concluding the discussion on this item, the Executive Councillor for Customer Services took the opportunity to remind members that resources within the service had been badly affected as a result of long-term serious illness and that the performance in a number of areas was a direct result of the implications of the Covid Pandemic. However, he was confident that performance would get back on track.