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Primary authorities are 'too slow'

Tom Wall28/09/2011 - 13:00

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Andrew Griffiths
Andrew Griffiths

Some primary authority councils are frustrating local regulatory action, the CIEH has warned.

In a response to a government consultation on the future of the Local Better Regulation Office (LBRO), CIEH principal policy officer Andrew Griffiths said he knew of EHOs who had been ‘frustrated or constrained’ by slow responses from primary authority councils.

‘The CIEH is aware of cases in which enforcing authorities have been frustrated or constrained in carrying out regulatory action by virtue of dilatory responses from primary authorities,’ the response states.

Mr Griffiths said ‘prescribed timeframes’ for the exchange of information between primary and enforcing authorities would make the scheme more efficient for the benefit of consumers and workers.

He told EHN: ‘We are aware of cases where enforcing authorities have had to chase responses from primary authorities. The primary authority principle is sound, but slow responses can devalue it.’

The government is planning to bring the LBRO into the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and rename it the Better Regulation Delivery Organisation. Unlike the LBRO, Mr Griffiths says, the new organisation will not support local authority regulation. He argues this is a ‘retrograde step’ which will have an adverse effect on improving standards and the quality of regulatory activity by local authorities.

He adds that the steering group of the new organisation must include a environmental health representative and an equal mix of small, medium and large businesses.

The government is also planning to expand and strengthen the primary authority scheme. Councils will be obliged to follow inspection plans drawn up by a primary authority. Before they only had to have regard to such plans.

In addition, councils will have to obtain consent in advance from a primary authority to act outside an inspection plan and will be obliged to provide inspection feedback to primary authorities

The LBRO was established in 2007. It was given a range of statutory duties and powers under the Regulatory Enforcement and Sanctions Act 2008 and under the primary authority scheme.

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