Report of the Head of Trading Standards (EES/20/3) seeking approval of a Proposed Extension of Shared Services Arrangement for Trading Standards, attached.
An Impact Assessment is also attached for the attention of Members at this meeting.
(Councillors Biederman, Dewhirst and Hannaford attended remotely in accordance with Standing Order 25(2) and the Local Authorities and Police and Crime Panels (Coronavirus) (Flexibility of Local Authority and Police and Crime Panel Meetings) (England and Wales) Regulations 2020 and spoke to this item).
The Cabinet considered the Report of the Head of Economy, Enterprise and Skills (EES/20/3) on the proposed extension of Trading Standards Services, circulated prior to the meeting in accordance with regulation 7(4) of the Local Authorities (Executive Arrangements) (Meetings and Access to Information) (England) Regulations 2012.
The Report summarised a proposal for the renewal of the legal agreement to the joint Devon County Council, Somerset County Council and Torbay Council Shared Trading Standards Service for a further ten years from the 1st April 2021. It also proposed an extension of the Joint Service to include Plymouth City Council, the Full Business Case of which could be made available on request. The previous Somerset agreement had been approved pursuant to Minute 200 of the County Council, 24 April 2013 and the Torbay agreement pursuant to County Council Minute 98, 27 April 2017.
The Report outlined the background to the shared service agreements with Somerset County Council and then Torbay Council in 2017 and the current arrangements including funding contributions.
It then outlined the proposed arrangements for a Joint Trading Standards Service covering Devon, Somerset and Torbay and being extended to include Plymouth. This included staffing proposals for the Plymouth staff (8.29 FTEs, but 9 individuals) to TUPE transfer to Devon County Council on 1 April 2021. The functions to be transferred across from each partner authority to Devon County Council were listed in Appendix 1 of the Report.
The funding arrangements would be similar to those currently in place but adjusted to include Plymouth Trading Standards Service, however, the Joint Service Review Panel had agreed that 3 years was an appropriate length of time at which future budgets should be set, balancing operational stability with uncertain funding pressures in the future.
The Joint Service would maintain its current offices in Devon, Somerset and Torbay and would also retain a presence in Plymouth. It was not anticipated that any staff would be required to relocate and no redundancies were proposed as a result of the merger.
The benefits of the merger were outlined in terms of a more efficiently delivery whilst still maintaining an acceptable level of service. It was unlikely that any significant level of saving could be achieved by the services operating individually, without impacting significantly on front-line service delivery. However, a number of non-financial benefits from a shared service could be realised and the Report outlined these in full such as greater resilience, professional expertise, “greater clout” in tackling major investigations, economies of scale, maintaining the ability of all four Councils to fulfil statutory obligations and greater efficiency in training and maintenance of staff competencies.
As in 2013 and 2017, the approval of the full Council was required to transfer those trading standard functions to be discharged by Devon County Council.
The Cabinet noted that staff had been kept informed throughout and formal consultation with Unions and relevant staff members of each Authority had been undertaken.
The Head of Service’s Report included an impact assessment which highlighted there were no negative impacts relating to the proposals.
The matter having been debated and the options and other relevant factors (e.g. financial, risk management, equality and legal considerations and public health impact) set out in the Head of Service’s Report having been considered:
it was MOVED by Councillor Gilbert, SECONDED by Councillor Hart, and
(a) that the proposed renewal of the current shared Trading Standards Service arrangement with Somerset County Council and Torbay Council for a ten-year period staring from 1 April 2021 be approved;
(b) that the proposed extension of the current shared service arrangement with Somerset County Council and Torbay Council for delivery of the Trading Standards Service to also include Plymouth City Council be further approved;
(c) that, accordingly, the Council approve the discharge of Plymouth City Council’s Trading Standards functions as identified in paragraph 4 and Appendix 1 of this Report in accordance with s101 of the Local Government Act 1972 to be delegated to Devon County Council, recognising and accepting also
(i) responsibility for the specific delegations made to Devon County Council to support the transfer of the Relevant Functions, and
(ii) the need to extend the membership of the Trading Standards Joint Service Review Panel to include representatives of Plymouth City Council;
(d) that the Head of Economy, Enterprise & Skills be authorised to finalise and agree / amend the share service agreements with Somerset County Council, Plymouth City Council, and Torbay Council, and any other appropriate legal and financial agreements with Somerset County Council, Plymouth City Council, and Torbay Council in order for the proposed services to be provided by Devon County Council.
(The Impact Assessment referred to above may be viewed alongside Minutes of this meeting and may also be available on the Impact Assessment Webpages).