Council services by letter

Agenda item

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The Annual Report

Minutes:

Simon Legg, Service Manager, introduced the Annual Report, which summarised the work and outcomes achieved by Brent and Harrow Trading Standards Service (The Trading Standards Consortium) for the financial year 2016/17.

 

The officer updated the Board on work undertaken in the past year and particular attention was drawn to the following:

 

·                     three members of staff had left the service and a fourth was on maternity leave.  These posts had been left vacant in order to achieve financial savings for both boroughs which had affected the performance of the Service in some areas of work;

 

·                     the budget of £313,170 for 2016/17 mentioned in the report was the net cost of the service to Brent after receipt of income and not the operational budget;

 

·                     the service had recruited a national producer of beers and spirits to the Primary Authority scheme which provided assured advice to businesses who paid the Council for this service.  A total of 248 hours of Primary Authority advice had been provided to businesses during the year;

 

·                     the Trading Standards webpages had been updated and now had a link from Brent Council’s business section making the pages easier to find and included electronic contact pages allowing enquiries to be submitted from the webpage;

 

·                     a triage system was in place whereby the national Citizens Advice Consumer Service section filtered complaints about businesses and referred those with criminal aspects to Trading Standards who applied a risk assessment matrix to determine which ones it could assist with.  704 complaints had been dealt with during the year;

 

·                     the implementation of a banking protocol hosted between the banks, Trading Standards and Police had resulted in a decrease in rogue cold callers to the Service as some of these were now being responded to directly by the Police;

 

·                     there had been a Brent borough-wide crackdown on illegal shisha venues.  There had been a focus on illegal tobacco sales going through the legal process which had been resourced by public health funding during the previous financial year.

 

Members asked questions about the content of the report and the officer responded as follows:

 

·                     he undertook to ascertain whether there had been a response from the Home Secretary to the request by the Brent Council Leader for the introduction of new legislation to provide local authorities with better powers to regulate and enforce problem shisha businesses effectively;

 

·                     if it was considered beneficial, Trading Standards could host further Loan Shark Awareness Events as the issue was still prevalent.  In addition to Neighbourhood Watch and other community groups, Crime Reduction events had been arranged in conjunction with Age Concern, branches of banks and Weeks of Action in Harrow.  In response to suggestions by Members, consideration would be given to hosting events for faith areas, including in temples, when the programme for the next twelve months was compiled;

 

·                     work had taken place by the City of London Police regarding cyber crime and the  National Trading Standards Board eCrime team. Locally, internet based investigations were common as so many businesses now had an online market place;

 

·                     when the new webpages were up and running a request would be made to link Harrow trading standards queries to the Brent website.

 

RESOLVED:  That the report be noted.