Agenda and minutes
Venue: The Conference Room, Herefordshire Council Offices, Plough Lane, Hereford, HR4 0LE
Contact: Ben Baugh, Democratic Services Officer
Apologies for absence
To receive apologies for absence.
All committee members were present. Apologies for absence were noted from Councillor Pauline Crockett, Cabinet Member Health and Adult Wellbeing, and Christine Price, Chief Officer of Healthwatch Herefordshire.
To receive details of members nominated to attend the meeting in place of a member of the committee.
There were no named substitutes.
Declarations of interest
To receive declarations of interests in respect of Schedule 1, Schedule 2 or Other Interests from members of the committee in respect of items on the agenda.
Councillor Peter Jinman declared an ‘other interest’ in the agenda item ‘Task and Finish Group Report: The Impact of the Intensive Poultry Industry on Human Health and Wellbeing’ due to interests in farming and farming related matters, as disclosed previously in the Register of Interests.
Questions from members of the public
To receive any written questions from members of the public.
No questions had been received from members of the public.
Questions from members of the council
To receive any written questions from members of the council.
No questions had been received from councillors.
This report provides a summary of the role of scrutiny committee, in accordance with the council’s Constitution and the key strategic objectives for the committee, in accordance with the overall strategic objectives for scrutiny agreed by the Scrutiny Management Board on 16 June 2022.
The Interim Statutory Scrutiny Officer introduced the report on the role and remit of the committee, and on the committee’s objectives for 2022-2023.
It was noted that the Scrutiny Management Board had considered a ‘Statement of Intent’ at its inaugural meeting on 16 June 2022 [minute 6 of 2022/23 refers] and attention was drawn to the twelve draft objectives for the committee, as set out in Appendix 1 to the report.
There was a discussion about the objectives and related provisions in the council’s Constitution [Section 4 – Scrutiny Functions refers], the key points included:
i. The remit of the Scrutiny Management Board in terms of ‘Where a matter falls within the remit of one or more Scrutiny Committees, decide which Committee will consider it and whether a spotlight, task and finish or standing panel review is appropriate’ and the implications for the individual scrutiny committees were discussed.
ii. The remit of the Scrutiny Management Board in terms of ‘To undertake the scrutiny role in relation to areas which are cross cutting nature eg. Corporate Strategy and Finance (Budget), People and Performance and Corporate Support’ and the need for clarity about how the individual scrutiny committees could contribute towards the scrutiny of the budget. It was noted that the remit of this committee included ‘Adults and Communities budget and policy framework’ but no other reference to the budget was made in the remits of the other scrutiny committees.
The Interim Statutory Scrutiny Officer advised that the Scrutiny Management Board would consider how the scrutiny of the budget would be conducted at its next meeting. A number of members commented on the need for the broader involvement of councillors in this scrutiny activity.
iii. It was noted that the scrutiny committee had the power ‘to review and scrutinise any matter relating to the planning, provision and operation of the health service in its area… In this regard health service includes services designed to secure improvement – (i) in the physical and mental health of the people of England…’ and a committee member commented on the potential need to consider issues for residents along the England – Wales border. The Interim Statutory Scrutiny Officer clarified that this provision reflected the fact that the legislation in relation to overview and scrutiny was different in England and in Wales.
That the general role and remit of the scrutiny committee be noted, and the Health, Care and Wellbeing Scrutiny Committee objectives for 2022-2023 be agreed.
This report presents the Health, Care and Wellbeing Scrutiny Committee Annual Work Plan 2022-2023, drawn up in consultation with members of the committee, now for review and agreement by the committee.
The Interim Statutory Scrutiny Officer introduced the report on the committee’s annual work plan for 2022-2023, noting that the plan had been drafted in consultation with members of the committee and with input from officers from the Community Wellbeing Directorate.
[Note: there was an adjournment for fifteen minutes to address a technical issue with the
live streaming of the meeting]
The principal points raised during the discussion included:
i. Access to Council Wellbeing Services – Signposting
Referring to consideration of ‘Access to health and care for Herefordshire residents living on the border with Wales’, the Chairperson noted that Herefordshire and Worcestershire Clinical Commissioning Group (now Integrated Care System) had drafted a protocol.
ii. Reserve Items
Comments were made about recent changes to West Midlands Ambulance Service and to NHS 111, and the potential need for a watching brief on developments in relation to urgent and emergency care services.
iii. Obesity and Nutrition
It was noted that the Children and Young People Scrutiny Committee had undertaken a ‘Dental Health and Childhood Obesity Spotlight Review’ [minute 36 of 2018/19 refers]; the subsequent executive response was agreed by Cabinet [minute 39 of 2018/19 refers].
The Chairperson suggested that this topic should be looked at in the context of all ages commissioning and a ‘whole family’ approach.
A committee member commented that Talk Community had held a number of practical events on obesity and nutrition.
The Vice-Chairperson noted the need to focus on the role of the council and on opportunities to have an impact locally.
That the Health, Care and Wellbeing Scrutiny Committee Annual Work Plan 2022-23 be agreed.
To report the outcomes and recommendations of the Task and Finish Group on ‘The Impact of the Intensive Poultry Industry on Human Health and Wellbeing'. The committee will be invited to consider the outcomes from the task and finish group and to decide if the recommendations should be submitted to the Cabinet.
The committee received the report of the Task and Finish Group on ‘The Impact of the Intensive Poultry Industry on Human Health and Wellbeing'.
On behalf of the committee, the Chairperson expressed thanks to the councillors and officers involved, and to the witnesses and members of the public for their contributions.
Councillor Felicity Norman, Chairperson of the Task and Finish Group, introduced the report, the key points included: the process had been interesting but the limited evidence available had been frustrating; the group had comprised lay people with no professional expertise in this area; attention was drawn to the sentence ‘We did not find enough evidence to conclude that Intensive Poultry Units (IPUs) are harmful to health, although there were many indications and much anecdotal evidence that this may be the case, especially the impact on mental health and wellbeing’; and further research was needed on this topic and related issues.
The key points of the discussion included:
1. A concern was expressed about the level of government regulation and action.
2. The absence of information was significant and the limited engagement of the Environment Agency was unfortunate, particularly the refusal of the request to identify ‘how many complaints concerning these IPU premises have there been in 2021/22 so far’ on the basis that it was ‘likely to involve a significant cost and diversion of resources from our other work’.
3. The Chairperson acknowledged the subjective nature of odour nuisance but suggested that a sense check of modelled assessment against actual performance of an installation could provide additional assurance in the planning process for IPUs. A committee member added that an independent consultant could be utilised to review the assessments provided in planning applications.
4. The Chairperson considered that some of the recommendations may go beyond the original scope of the Task and Finish Group and others recommended to the committee should be directed to the executive.
5. The Vice-Chairperson recognised that the report was well intentioned but expressed reservations about aspects of the content and tone, including:
a. The need for a systematic review of the scientific literature.
b. Caution and balance was important in terms of the absence of evidence.
c. Some of the conclusions drawn were considered scientifically unsound.
d. There was no breakdown by species and types of poultry production.
e. In terms of flocks under 40,000 birds, there was a need to test the statement that ‘there are very few of these in the county’ given the requirement to register flocks over 50 birds.
f. It was understood that there were limited resources but there was a need to be suitably critical if reports were to be used as a basis for policy making.
g. There were broader questions about task and finish groups, including the need for methodology, research, and logical processing to inform conclusions and recommendations.
h. The recommendation about engagement with relevant bodies was welcomed but this also needed to include producers.
i. Statements made about anti-microbials were challenged, with an ... view the full minutes text for item 8.
Date of future meetings
The dates for scheduled meetings for the remainder of the 2022/23 municipal year were noted, with the next scheduled meeting being Friday 23 September 2022 at 2.00 pm.