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ENVIRONMENTAL AND CONSUMER PROTECTION

MINUTE of MEETING of the ENVIRONMENTAL AND CONSUMER PROTECTION COMMITTEE held in the Town and County Hall, Forfar on Tuesday 19 February 2002 at 4.00pm.

Present: Councillors SHEENA WELSH, IAN ANGUS, BILL CROWE, FRANK ELLIS, ALISTAIR GRAY, JOHN HENDERSON, IAN MACKINTOSH, JOY MOWATT, PETER MURPHY, ROBERT MYLES, PETER NIELD and BILL ROBERTON.

Apology: An apology for absence was intimated on behalf of Councillor STEWART McGLYNN.

Councillor WELSH, Convener, in the Chair.

1. EXCLUSION OF PUBLIC AND PRESS

The Committee resolved, in terms of Standing Order 27(2), that the public and press be excluded from the meeting during consideration of items 2 and 3 below, so as to avoid the disclosure of information which was exempt in terms of Part 1 of Schedule 7A of the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973, paragraphs 6, 8, 9 and 10.

2. ENVIRONMENTAL MONITORING OF LANDFILL

There was submitted Report No 217/02 by the Director of Environmental and Consumer Protection detailing tenders received for environmental monitoring for a three year period at Restenneth/Lochhead Landfill Site, Montrose Road, Forfar and Arrat's Mill Landfill Site, Montrose Road, Brechin.

The Committee agreed:-

  1. to note the tenders received as outlined in the Report; and
  2. to approve the acceptance of the tender for environmental monitoring for a three year period at Restenneth/Lochhead Landfill Site, Montrose Road, Forfar and Arrat's Mill Landfill Site, Montrose Road, Brechin from Carl Bro, Edinburgh, at a cost of £44,970.00.

3. STRAY DOG KENNELLING CONTRACT

There was submitted Report No 218/02 by the Director of Environmental and Consumer Protection detailing tenders received for the kennelling of stray dogs.

The Committee agreed to note the tenders received in respect of stray dog kennelling valued up to £30,000, for which the Director of Environmental and Consumer Protection had delegated authority to act in terms of Financial Regulation 16, and his acceptance of the tender for the kennelling of stray dogs for a period of five years from 1 April 2002 to 31 March 2007 from Lochview Kennels, by Letham, Angus.

4. MINUTE OF PREVIOUS MEETING

The minute of meeting of this Committee of 8 January 2002 was approved as a correct record and signed by the Convener.

With reference to Article 5 of the minute of meeting, Councillor Mowatt advised the Committee that she had put forward Angus Council's concern regarding the handling of the foot and mouth outbreak at a meeting of COSLA's Rural Affairs Executive Group on 8 February 2002. Her comments had been met with considerable sympathy, particularly from those Councils most closely involved with the disposal of the infected animals. COSLA's Rural Affairs Executive Group had agreed that Councillor Mowatt draft a motion to be circulated to members of the Group for approval and agreement on further action.

The Convener, on behalf of the Committee, thanked Councillor Mowatt and asked her to keep Members advised on any further developments.

5. TAYSIDE AREA WASTE PLAN

With reference to Article 9 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 25 September 2001, the Director of Environmental and Consumer Protection reminded the Committee that the Convener of this Committee and the Convener of Development Control Committee, (the Member representatives on the Area Waste Group), had been remitted with powers to agree the final editorial content of the draft Area Waste Plan which would now shortly be published for consultation purposes only. The document, the first Tayside Area Waste Plan, looked at integrated waste management for Tayside and set out initial targets for composting and recycling, together with an Action Plan designed to meet those targets. A copy of the draft Plan had been placed in the Members' Lounge.

The Committee agreed to note the position.

Councillor Welsh declared an interest in the following item.

6. SCOTTISH EXECUTIVE CONSULTATION ­ PRIVATE WATER SUPPLY REGULATION

There was submitted Report No 220/02 by the Director of Environmental and Consumer Protection detailing a response to the Scottish Executive consultation document entitled "Private Water Supply Regulation".

The Report indicated that the consultation document outlined the current thinking behind the development of policy for implementation of the EC Directive 98/33/EC for drinking water quality and at the same time sought to determine views on the possible changes in the national regulations that would apply to private water supplies not covered by the Directive. The Executive had stressed that the consultation was at an early stage and that final policy decisions would be informed by the responses.

The existing regulation arrangements were not considered sufficient to ensure adequate enforcement since local authorities currently only had powers to enforce the Private Water Supplies (Scotland) Regulations 1992. The document considered this to be inadequate, suggesting that provision would need to be made to place a duty on local authorities to enforce the Regulations in respect of those private water supplies covered by the Drinking Water Directive.

The Report also outlined Angus Council's response. Dependent on the outcome of the review and the extent of implementation of the proposals, it was stressed that there could be significant resource implications for the Council. It was highly unlikely that the existing Environmental Health staff resources could cope with the additional burden and specifically the consultation points which were highlighted in the Report. The system currently in place, whereby the local authorities recovered costs from owners/users of supplies by direct charge for sampling and tests, had been problematic resulting in additional administrative burdens and disputes over payments. Any intention to apply the same system as a means to finance an enhanced service would add additional burdens on local authority administration and alienate the users of private water supplies. An alternative method of financing private water supply regulation had to be found preferably through direct grant from the Scottish Executive.

Following discussion, the Committee agreed to approve the comments and views expressed in the Report as Angus Council's response to the points of consultation outlined in the Scottish Executive's document entitled "Private Water Supply Regulation".

7. REVIEW OF FEES AND CHARGES ­ WEIGHING AND MEASURING EQUIPMENT ETC

With reference to Article 8 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 20 February 2001, there was submitted Report No 221/02 by the Director of Environmental and Consumer Protection giving details of proposed increased fees and charges for the testing, calibration etc of weighing and measuring equipment for 2002/2003.

The increases, which were detailed in the Schedule and Appendix to the Report, were mainly based on LACOTS (Local Authorities Co-ordinating Body on Food and Trading Standards) recommendations and incorporated the suggested 2.5% increase for inflation. Fees for petroleum storage licences were still controlled by statute and these had last increased in August 2001.

The Committee agreed:-

  1. to adopt the fees and charges detailed in the Schedule and Appendix to the Report for the year 2002/2003; and
  2. to otherwise note the contents of the Report.

8. TRADING STANDARDS ­ EXTERNAL AUDITING OF PERFORMANCE

There was submitted Report No 222/02 by the Director of Environmental and Consumer Protection advising the Committee of new external auditing requirements by Audit Scotland and the Department of Trade and Industry in respect of the performance of Angus Council's Trading Standards Service.

The Report indicated that the DTI (Department of Trade and Industry) along with LACOTS (Local Authorities Co-ordinating Body on Food and Trading Standards), TSI (Trading Standards Institute), NWML (National Weights and Measures Laboratory) and OFT (Office of Fair Trading) supported by the Local Government Associations, had recently developed and published a National Performance Framework for Trading Standards Services.

The framework, which was due to come into effect on 1 April 2002, introduced new performance standards for trading standards activities and was aimed at ensuring such services throughout the United Kingdom were able to develop a modern service, working towards national and local priorities in a coherent way. The DTI intended that the Service Delivery Plans of each local authority would be completed and submitted on an annual basis and analysed centrally. The first year's operation was likely to be experimental and the information return requested within the framework would eventually replace the annual statutory report to DTI, which was presently required under Section 70 of the Weights and Measures Act 1985. The resultant analysis of results would be published. There was also to be an element of self assessment in the scheme and a peer review process although ultimately external audit was planned.

Another initiative currently underway was an Audit Scotland performance audit of Trading Standards Services which also contained elements of self assessment, peer review and external audit. Angus Council's Trading Standards Service had completed the self assessment part of this project and the results had been submitted to the External Auditor. The next stage would be to take part in the peer review process where Angus Council would assist in the audit of the Highland Council Trading Standards Department, while Aberdeenshire Council had been chosen to take part in auditing this Council. In both cases, these visits would take place during February 2002 when the External Auditor would be in attendance to lead the process.

Although audit by external agencies had become a normal practice, concern was expressed that since much of officers' time was now spent preparing various plans/documents, preparing for audits and undergoing audits, work out in the field would suffer.

The Committee agreed to note the contents of the Report.

9. STRATEGY FOR WIDER IMPLEMENTATION OF HAZARD ANALYSIS CRITICAL CONTROL POINTS (HACCP)

With reference to Article 7 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 8 January 2002, there was submitted Report No 223/02 by the Director of Environmental and Consumer Protection advising the Committee on the Foods Standards Agency Strategy which detailed a range of specific initiatives to expand the implementation of Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP) in food businesses.

The Report indicated that the Food Standards Agency (FSA) had a target of ensuring that 30% of food businesses were operating HACCP schemes by April 2004. There had been some work towards meeting this target, largely due to the HACCP requirement in some of the food legislation requiring approval of certain processors and butchers' licensing.

The Strategy, the key elements of which were outlined in the Report, was ambitious in its objectives but necessary if food poisoning was to be controlled. Angus Council had already agreed to support the 2002 Food Hygiene Campaign and welcomed and supported the aspects of the Strategy which linked into the Campaign. The Report suggested that the FSA's proposal within the Strategy, to provide generic HACCP guidance for the various sectors of the food industry, should also be supported, together with its intention to limit the amount of jargon used in the guidance material. The Strategy should also be supported for the pivotal role it defined for local authorities and for the proposal of enhanced guidance and the provision of training opportunities for food safety staff.

The Committee agreed:-

  1. to note the contents of the Report; and
  2. to express its support for the implementation of the Strategy.

10. NATIONAL FOOD SAFETY WEEK

With reference to Article 7 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 8 January 2002, there was submitted Report No 224/02 by the Director of Environmental and Consumer Protection advising the Committee that National Food Safety Week 2002 would be held on 10-16 June and that it would have a broad food safety focus encompassing key food safety messages dealing with safe storage, temperature control (both cooking and chilling), avoiding cross-contamination, kitchen cleanliness and hand washing. The staff of the Environmental and Consumer Protection Service would be using the material produced by Foodlink such as leaflets, booklets etc to publicise the above themes throughout Angus during that week.

The Committee agreed to note the contents of the Report and expressed its support for this initiative.

11. SALE DAY OF HOME ENERGY EFFICIENCY AND COMPOSTER PRODUCTS

With reference to Article 7 of the minute of meeting of the Housing Committee of 19 February 2002, there was submitted Joint Report No 225/02 by the Director of Housing and the Director of Environmental and Consumer Protection advising the Committee of the proposal to hold a public sale of domestic energy efficiency products and home "composter" bins.

The Report indicated that Angus Council's HECA Strategy, Environmental Strategy, and Local Agenda 21 Strategy all listed awareness raising as one of the most effective methods for achieving greater take-up of sustainability issues. Two of the major components of sustainability were energy efficiency and waste minimisation and, in order to promote these, it was proposed that a sale be held of "green" domestic products to increase the uptake and to "kick start" interest in environmental issues across all households in Angus.

Following discussion, the Committee for its interest, agreed to approve the proposed sale day in Arbroath and Forfar on the same Sunday in May 2002 and expressed its hope that this would be well supported by members of the public.

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