Agenda item

Environmental Health Update

Report of the Portfolio Holder – Environmental Health & Licensing


Members considered a report presented by the Portfolio Holder for Environmental Health and Licensing, which provided an update on the work undertaken by the Environmental Health Service during 2020/2021, and also the impact and response to Covid19.


The Portfolio Holder highlighted some examples on demands of the service during the year.  At the peak of the lockdown last summer, there had been a 300% increase in domestic burning complaints when the household recycling centres were closed.  Contrastingly, there had been a reduction in complaints regarding noise nuisance from dogs barking as more people were at home but at the same time there had been a lack of tolerance for general noise nuisance where complaints had increased. 


A new app had been trialled were customers could collate evidence and send it to Environmental Health to request help with noise nuisance – this had been successful and would continue post Covid. 


A new team manager was in post in the Environmental Health Protection Team, which had meant performance had improved in a number of different areas such as planning application consultations and air quality monitoring. 


The Licensing section had also received increased requests for advice for example, from taxi drivers and a number of operational improvements had been introduced such as online applications and the licences themselves being issued by email.  New staff had been appointed to streamline this work and this enabled the Licensing and Enforcement officers to continue with more enforcement activities.  The Licensing Policy was also being reviewed. 


The Environmental Enforcement Team were dealing with increased numbers of fly tipping, especially since the second lockdown.   Work was underway to review CCTV and surveillance technologies to help capture evidence and undertake enforcement around these waste crimes.  Members would note that there had been a recent successful prosecution of a roofer from out of the District who had fly tipped his waste in the rural hamlet of Stainsby. 


Neighbourhood patrols were fully restored earlier this year to ensure littering and dog fouling offences were both deterred and detected.  Members could encourage their residents to report these types of offences along with any evidence to the Council.


Food hygiene and safety inspections had also increased as new operators such as home bakers / caterers had started operating and selling through new platforms such as Facebook Market Place.


A dedicated Covid19 team had been established using funding from Derbyshire County Council Public Health and surge funding from Ministry of Housing Communities & Local Government to enhance capacity and meet demand, particularly with regard to compliance, business advice and support. 


Additional ring-fenced grant funding which had been provided by the government through the Contain Outbreak Management Fund (COMF) was to support Covid19 related activities, including public health interventions, compliance and enforcement. 


The investment in the service was certainly being felt with increased capacity within teams to undertake statutory duties and respond to requests for service.  Two new Environmental Health Officer posts were also being funded for officers to undertake the 2-year MSc. Environmental Health course.


Councillor David Dixon noted the good work which had been carried out by the various Environmental Health teams at West Lea in Clowne and requested his thanks be relayed to the team for making a massive difference there.


Councillor Sandra Peake noted the work of the refuse collectors during the pandemic and wished her thanks be passed on to them. 


Councillor Tricia Clough thanked the Portfolio Holder for the report and also the Environmental Health team.  She added that the New Houghton Hub which had recently reopened had received a 5 star award from Environmental Health for their community café which meant they could provide meals at a rate that people in the community could afford to eat. 


Other Members thanked the Portfolio Holder for a detailed report and noted the excellent work of the Environmental Health Team during the year and requested their acknowledgement be relayed to the team.


The Executive Director – Resources thanked Members for their comments and added that the Environmental Health team had been grateful for the additional investment in the service which had enabled them to do a full service review and create the vacancies that the Portfolio Holder had referred to in the report.   The team had welcomed the approach which had helped them to concentrate on the day job and be more proactive in their work instead of fire fighting with the volume of work that they had encountered particularly through Covid19 and the infection control work.


Moved by Councillor Deborah Watson and seconded by Councillor Derek Adams

RESOLVED that the update on the work of the Environmental Health Service during the Covid19 pandemic period be noted.


(Portfolio Holder for Environmental Health and Licensing)


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