Agenda item

Health & Safety and Environmental Protection (Agenda item 6)

Presentation on Health & Safety and Environmental Protection from the responsible authorities.



David Osborne, the Team Leader (Food, Health & Safety) provided Members with a detailed overview of the work covered by the Food, Health & Safety Team and how it supported licensing activities (presentation attached).


The main functions of the Team were:


  • Food Safety
  • Occupational Health & Safety
  • Communicable Disease.


Referring to Food Safety, Members were informed that Breckland Council was responsible for 1300 premises and the Team ensured that all food was safe for human consumption minimising the risk of food poisoning and food borne disease.  The Team was also responsible for food safety – preparation, handling and storage, ensured that unsafe food was removed from the food chain; investigated food complaints, unhygienic premises, poor practices; responded to national Food Alerts, food incidents and product recalls; provided food hygiene training courses/advice/information and operated the National Food Hygiene Rating Scheme.


In relation to Health & Safety, the Team was responsible for the inspection of 2,000 work places (offices, shops, warehouses, entertainment); it minimised the risk of work related accidents & disease; investigated accidents, fatalities, disease and complaints; themed projects (gas safety, legionnaires disease); asbestos removal; noise at work; smoke free workplaces and event safety.  Local authorities had the same powers as the Health & Safety Executive and both aimed to reduce work related accidents and disease. 


The Team was also responsible for the prevention of the spread of communicable diseases in the community


The Food, Health & Safety Team supported a number of licensing functions consisting of street trading, animal premises (including two zoos), skin piercing and licensing consultations which included regulated entertainment.  The Team had the opportunity to object or add conditions to such applications.


The key themes and objectives were highlighted.


Councillor Armes asked whether hot tubs came under the same category as saunas in relation to the prevention of legionnaire’s disease.  She also asked if the Team had any control over home-baking (cakes etc that were baked for fetes etc).   Members were informed that only saunas/hot tubs in business establishments would be inspected to ensure that they were being correctly sanitised.  In response to the latter, the Team was more than happy to inspect and advise but cakes were at the lowest risk end of the spectrum.  Advice and the need for registration in some instances were promoted through Breckland Voice.


Councillor Spencer asked if swimming pools were regularly inspected.  The Team Leader explained that swimming pools were not routinely recognised as a source of legionella; however a number of inspections had been carried out in the past.


Councillor Lamb asked what the Team’s definition of illegal food was.  Members were informed that it was food that did not comply with the law; for instance, someone who had not registered as a food seller, fraudulent food sales or someone who blatantly ignored food safety regulations.  The meaning of fraudulent food sales was explained.


Councillor Bowes asked if spot checks were carried out on premises.  Members were informed that all visits were programmed into high and low risk categories.  High risk premises were inspected more regularly.


In response to a question, the Team was indeed reactive to public complaints.


A question was asked about whether the sale of outdated food was legal.  Members were informed that there were two types of date used – ‘Use By’ was an indication from the manufacturer that the food was safe, ‘Best Before’ was related to food quality and was less of a health issue.  The Licensing & Business Support Manager advised that it was an offence to sell something past its ‘Use by Date’.  Members were further informed by the Team Leader that this may not be classed an offence but it was indicative of poor management.


Councillor Millbank wanted to know if the Team inspected animal establishments/zoos.  It was explained that the Licensing Team took care of the pet shops and the Food, Health & Safety Team covered zoos and dangerous animals.


Referring to the National Food Hygiene Rating Scheme (scores on the doors), the Chairman felt that the food establishments that scored poorly should be displayed.  The Licensing & Business Support Manager said that the displaying of such certificates was not mandatory but may become so in the future.


In response to a question, all school kitchens were inspected.


Andrew Grimley, the Environmental Protection Team Leader, also provided Members with a detailed overview of the work covered by the Environmental Protection Team and how it supported licensing activities (presentation attached).


The Team covered a large area of work including:



         Air & water quality

         Planning Application Consultations

         Contaminated land

         Pest control service

         Dog warden service



In terms of licensing it was noise nuisance and assisting with licensing application consultations that linked the two services. 


Referring to water quality, the Team Leader explained that there was still a large amount of private water supplies that required inspections and that had to be tested on a regular basis.  Duties towards contaminated land were also a big issue.  There were currently several thousand contaminated sites across Breckland and although a large proportion of those had not caused any problems, if the sites were to be developed, it was the Team’s responsibility to ensure it was safe prior to development.


The links with the Licensing Team was primarily to prevent public nuisance across the District.  The work consisted of new licence applications for regulated entertainment, Temporary Event Notices (TEN) and noise disturbance from licensed premises.  Noise nuisance was a subjective issue and if the Team had serious concerns about an application, conditions would have to be agreed and applied such as closing doors and windows or having a noise limiter device installed.  Only in extreme situations would the Environmental Protection Team object to an application and breaches would be referred back to the Licensing Sub-Committee.


Statutory Nuisance and Regulated Entertainment and Noise leaflets were circulated.


Councillor Darby asked what the position would be if someone organised an event without applying for a TEN.  He also asked when an event became an event (i.e. the number of people).  Members were informed that if it involved regulated entertainment then a TEN should have been applied; this did not apply to private parties.  In response to the latter question, the Team Leader explained that if the event was for 300 plus people until the early hours then the Team would look into it.


Referring to noise nuisance, Councillor Lamb wanted to know how the Team dealt with complaints in relation to cockerels and church bells.  It was advised that the Team would have a duty to investigate but there was a balance that had to be taken into consideration; it was very much a subjective view.


Referring back to the TENs, it was clarified that these were time limited and were based on the activity - payment was not always an indicator for a TEN.


Councillor Armes asked if decibel levels had to be set for all entertainment.  Members were informed that this was not the case, the only decibel levels that were set came under the work noise environment.  In terms of noise nuisance, it depended on the location; if complaints were received about noise disturbance from large outdoor events then the Team would be obliged to investigate.  In terms of the noise limiter device, these could be set at a certain level but again it was very much subjective.


The Chairman highlighted the posting on Breckland’s Twitter page in relation to lost dogs which he had found very useful.


The Team Leaders were thanked for their presentations.


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