Agenda and draft minutes

Trading Standards Joint Advisory Board
Thursday 23 November 2017 7.00 pm

Venue: Boardroom 5 - Harrow Civic Centre Civic Centre, Station Road, Harrow

Contact: Joe Kwateng, Governance Officer  0208 937 1354 Email: joe.kwateng@brent.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

1.

Election of Chair

Minutes:

RESOLVED:  That Councillor KeithFerrybe elected as Chairfor the meeting.

2.

Welcome to new Member

Minutes:

Councillor Keith Perrinwaswelcomedto hisfirst meeting of theBoard.

 

3.

Declarations of personal and prejudicial interests

Members are invited to declare at this stage of the meeting, any relevant financial or other interest in the items on this agenda.

Minutes:

RESOLVED: To note that the following interests were declared:

 

Agenda  Item  7   Proposal  for  Providing  a  POCA/Planning  EnforcementService toHarrow

 

Councillor KeithFerrydeclared anon-pecuniaryinterest inthathe wasPortfolioHolder forplanning servicesand assuch wouldbe involvedin thedecision-making.He wouldremain intheroomwhilstthematterwasconsidered.

4.

Minutes of the previous meeting pdf icon PDF 103 KB

Minutes:

RESOLVED:That the minutesofthemeetingheld on 11May 2017, betakenas read and signedas a correct record.

.

5.

Matters arising

Minutes:

There were none.

6.

Deputations

Minutes:

There were none.

7.

Annual Report pdf icon PDF 58 KB

This report details the work of the Trading Standards Consortium for 2016/2017.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

SimonLegg,Service Manager, introducedtheAnnual Report, whichsummarisedtheworkand outcomesachievedby Brentand HarrowTrading StandardsService(TheTradingStandardsConsortium)for thefinancial year2016/17.

 

TheofficerupdatedtheBoardonworkundertakenin thepastyearand particular attention was drawn to thefollowing:

 

·                     three membersofstaffhadleft theserviceand afourth wason maternityleave.Theseposts hadbeenleft vacantin orderto achievefinancial savingsfor bothboroughswhich hadaffected theperformance of the Service in some areasof work;

 

·                     the budget of £313,170for 2016/17mentioned in the report was the netcost oftheservicetoBrentafterreceiptofincomeandnot theoperationalbudget;

 

·                     the servicehad recruiteda nationalproducer ofbeersand spiritsto thePrimaryAuthorityschemewhichprovidedassuredadviceto businesseswhopaid theCouncilfor thisservice.A totalof248hoursofPrimaryAuthorityadvicehad beenprovidedtobusinessesduringthe year;

 

·                     the TradingStandardswebpageshadbeenupdatedandnowhad alinkfrom BrentCouncil’sbusiness sectionmakingthe pageseasiertofindandincludedelectroniccontactpagesallowingenquiriesto besubmittedfromthe webpage;

 

·                     a triagesystemwasin placewherebythe nationalCitizensAdviceConsumer Servicesectionfilteredcomplaintsaboutbusinessesand referredthosewithcriminal aspectsto TradingStandardswhoapplied ariskassessmentmatrixto determinewhichones itcouldassist with.704 complaintshad been dealt with during the year;

 

·                     the implementationofa bankingprotocolhostedbetweenthe banks,TradingStandardsandPolicehadresultedina decreasein roguecold callersto theServiceas someofthesewerenow beingrespondedto directlyby the Police;

 

·                     there hadbeena Brentborough-widecrackdownon illegalshisha venues.Therehadbeena focusonillegaltobacco sales goingthroughthelegalprocess whichhad beenresourcedby publichealthfundingduringthe previousfinancial year.

 

Membersaskedquestionsaboutthecontentofthereportandtheofficerrespondedas follows:

 

·                     he undertookto ascertainwhethertherehadbeena responsefromthe HomeSecretaryto therequestby theBrentCouncilLeaderfor theintroductionofnew legislationto providelocalauthoritieswithbetterpowers to regulate andenforce problemshisha businesses effectively;

 

·                     if itwasconsideredbeneficial,TradingStandardscouldhost furtherLoanShark AwarenessEventsas theissue wasstill prevalent.In additionto NeighbourhoodWatch andothercommunitygroups, CrimeReductioneventshadbeenarrangedin conjunctionwithAgeConcern, branchesofbanksandWeeks ofActionin Harrow.In responsetosuggestionsby Members,considerationwould begivento hostingeventsforfaith areas,including intemples,whenthe programmefor thenext twelve months was compiled;

 

·                     workhad takenplaceby theCityof LondonPoliceregardingcyber-crimeandtheNationalTradingStandardsBoardeCrimeteam.Locally,internet basedinvestigations werecommonas somanybusinesses now had an  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.

8.

Proposal for Providing a POCA/Planning Enforcement Service to Harrow pdf icon PDF 102 KB

This report sets out a proposal from the London Borough of Brent (LLB) to provide a service investigating planning infringements committed by those who have benefited financially from their breaches, carrying out financial investigations under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (POCA) and providing advocacy services in subsequent legal proceedings on behalf of the London Borough of Harrow (LBH). 

Minutes:

TheBoardreceiveda reportwhichset outa proposalfor theLondonBoroughofBrentto providea serviceinvestigatingplanning infringementscommittedby those who had benefitedfinancially fromtheirbreaches, offering aplanning enforcementofficer, afinancial investigatorto carryout financialinvestigationunderthe proceedsofCrimeAct (POCA)andprovideadvocacyservicesin subsequent legal proceedings on behalf of the London Boroughof Harrow.

 

Themeetingwasadvisedthatdiscussions hadtakenplacewithBrent andHarrowmanagementasto themostappropriatewayto developthisproposal.  Theofficerssuggestedthat,iftheBoardwasminded tosupportthe proposals,there wouldbe furtherconsultationwithHarrowofficers andappropriateMembers to ascertain whether Harrow wished to proceed.

 

The ServiceManager advisedthe meetingthat thescheme haddelivered significantincome toBrent andTrading Standardsfor anumber ofyears andit hadbeen successfullyoffering theirfinancial investigationservice toother boroughs.Although theexisting Harrowplanning policystated thatit wouldseek touse POCAwhere evidencesuggested thatthe breachof planningcontrol had given rise to significantfinancial gain, it was believed that onlyone casehad beenput forwardand thisinvestigation wasongoing. Itwas furtherstated thatHarrow alreadycontributed tothe FinancialInvestigation Teamresource byway ofthe consortiumfees andwould potentiallyreceive incomedue tothe HomeOfficer incentivisationscheme wherebylocal authoritiesretained apercentage ofall successfulconfiscation ordersthat theyobtain, whenthey were paid.In orderto assistHarrow to fundthe proposal overa 12month period,it wasfurther proposedthat approximately£40k underspendheld byBrent fromthe lasttwo financialyears 2015-17be usedfor thispurpose.

 

The ServiceManager describedthe proposedprocess and outlinedsuccessful ordersmade underPOCA legislationand themoney raised.He suggestedthat asample ofcases betaken forwardin thefirst year,to enablethe resultsto bemonitored, amodel tobe setup andtrialled andincome would be raised in the longer term.

 

The DivisionalDirector Commissioning Servicesstated thatwhilst discussionshad beenongoing, theproposals hadnot yetbeen formallydiscussed withHarrow planningofficers whichwould bethe nextstep ifthe proposalwas of interestto Harrow.The underspendreferred toby theService Managerwould coverBrent’s costsinproviding thestaffing resourceto deliver this work onHarrow’s behalf.

 

A Memberof theBoard suggestedthat discussionsalso beheldwith thehousing team.In responseto aquestion asto whetherthe proposalwould impactthe serviceBrent receivedfrom theenforcement team,the ServiceManager statedthat whilstthere wouldbe pressureon theBrent team,the feecharged toHarrow couldbe reinvestedto Brentto backfillstaff time.The proposalhad beendiscussed fora numberof yearsand itnow neededto moveforward toa formalfooting. Asthe income  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.

9.

Letting Agent Fee Legislation pdf icon PDF 97 KB

The report sets out the legal requirement for letting agents to display details of fees they charge on their premises and websites, as set out in the Consumer Rights Act 2015.

Minutes:

Thereportsoughtanycommentsor recommendationsfrommembersas tothe levelofchargewhenissuing penaltynotices withregard totheenforcementoftheConsumerRightsAct 2015.The legislationcreated alegalrequirementfor lettingagentsto displaydetails ofthefees theychargedon theirpremisesand websites.

 

TheServiceManageroutlinedtheprocess forthe issueofa penaltynotice. Hereportedthata lighttouch approachhad beentakenwherebyapproximately150 Brentand100Harrowbasedletting agentshad initiallybeenprovidedwithadviceon thelegislationby TradingStandardsOfficers,much in writing. Despite the advice there was widespread non-compliance.

 

Itwasnotedthattheenforcementsanctionfor non-compliancewasa monetarypenaltynot exceeding£5k.Whilst itwasup tothe localauthorityto setthelevelof penaltyit imposed,theDCLGguidancestipulatedthatthe expectationwasthat a£5k finewouldbe consideredthenormand thata lowerfine shouldonlybe chargedifthe enforcementauthority wassatisfiedthat therewere extenuating circumstances.

 

Itwasnotedthata numberofLondonboroughshad issuedpenaltynotices andhad started settingvarious helpful legal precedents.

 

In responseto questions, it was notedthat:

·         letting orproperty management agents fees andcharges wererequired tobe clear,unambiguous andany administrative  charges  defined.With regardto thewebsites ofagents, thefees andcharges hadto beclearly availableon thewebsite, forexample, atab atthe topof thescreen;

 

·         the TradingStandards servicehad notundertaken anylocal publicityspecifically targetedat tenants.Information wasavailable ontopical internetsites. Liaisonwould take place with housing colleagues.

 

RESOLVED:  That

 

(i)        the introductionof apenalty chargeof £5kfor thenon-compliance ofSection 83of the Consumer Rights Act 2015be supported;

 

(ii)       the delegationto theTrading StandardsSenior RegulatoryService Manager be noted;

 

(iii)      it benoted thatany  monetary penalty receivedin connectionwithenforcing the Act beused to fundthe costsof enforcement.

10.

Scams Team Update pdf icon PDF 79 KB

The report provides an update on the partnership between Trading Standards Service and the National Trading Standards (NTS) Scams Team a year on from its formation in respect of the sharing of information and receiving referrals from them.

Minutes:

Asrequestedby theBoardat itsmeetingon 24October2016,a reportwassubmittedwhichprovidedan updateonthefirst yearofthepartnershipwith theNationalTradingStandardsScamTeamin respectof the sharingof informationand receiving referrals from them.

 

TheServiceManageroutlined theprocessfor referralsandinformedthe Boardthat theServicehad received61 referralsfromthe Scams Team, 32 for Brentand29for Harrow.Ofthereferralsreceived,£295hadbeenreturnedbetween nine victims,six in Brent and three in Harrow.

 

The support of the Board to the continuationofthe initiative was sought due tothe experiencesofthoseaffectedby scams.Particular mentionwasmadeofvictimswhowerein denialoftheirmistakesasit waspossible thattheywouldcontinuetogetscammed.Itwasnotedthatit wasfinancial abuseundertheCare Act2014.The TradingStandardsServicehad givenpresentations toAgeConcern andwashelping thatorganisationwitha bidfor aneducationcampaign to raise awareness in Harrow.

 

RESOLVED:That thework undertakenin partnershipwith the NationalTradingStandardsScamsTeambe notedandthe continuationofthepartnership be noted.

11.

Date of next meeting

8 March 2018

Minutes:

Membersnoted  that  the  next  meeting  was  scheduled  to  take  place  on8 March2018atBrent.Proposeddatesof28June2018,14 November2018and 13March2019for thenextmunicipalyearweresuggestedfor consultation.

 

Anofficersuggestedthatfuture meetingscommenceat6.30pm.Membersexpressed the viewthat 7.00pmwas the most suitable time.

 

(Note:Themeeting, having commenced at7.00pm,closed at 8.10pm).

 

 

 

(Signed)

COUNCILLOR KEITH FERRY

 

Chair

 

 

 

12.

Any other urgent business

Notice of items to be raised under this heading must be given in writing to the Head of Executive and Member Services (London Borough of Brent) or his representative before the meeting in accordance with the constitutions of both councils.

Minutes:

None.