Looking for information about a council service?
16th September 2008
Minutes of the Corporate and Regulatory Services Committee Meeting held on Tuesday 16 September 2008 in the Council Chamber, Council Offices, 47 Derry Road, Strabane at 7.30 p.m.
Present: In the Chair: Councillor J Emery
Other Members: Councillors A Bresland, J Donnell, G Foley, D Hussey, T Kerrigan, C McGill, K McGuire, C McHugh, E McMenamin, J McNulty, J O’Kane
Total = 12
In Attendance: Chief Executive, Corporate Policy Officer, Chief Building Control Officer, Chief Environmental Health Officer, Administrative Assistant
Apologies: Councillors M Boyle, T McBride,
Amended Fraud & Whistle Blowing Policies
The Corporate Policy Officer (CPO) presented the above amended policies for Members’ approval.
She informed Members that the policies, which had both been previously ratified by Council, had been amended slightly to reflect the role of internal audit and the Council’s Audit Committee.
On the proposal of Councillor Kerrigan, seconded by Councillor McMenamin, the amendments on the above policies were adopted.
• Proposed Green Rebates on Domestic Rates
• Provision of Additional Dental Service in Northern Ireland
The CPO presented the above draft consultation reports, copies of which had been previously distributed to Members. The following was discussed:
Councillors Donnell and McNulty expressed their concerns stating that a number of residents were still waiting for financial help with attic insulation.
Councillor McNulty sought clarification on the length of time people were waiting.
The Chief Environmental Health Officer (CEHO) stated that the issue was ongoing and he informed Members that he would seek clarification on waiting periods.
Councillor McMenamin informed Members that the Dental Service in Northern Ireland* had introduced an hour in their appointment schedule for emergencies. He stated that this was, in his opinion, a step in the right direction.
On the proposal of Councillor McMenamin, seconded by Councillor Kerrigan the proposed draft consultation reports were adopted.
Linguistic Diversity Policy Position Paper – September 2008
The CPO presented the above Policy Position Paper. She informed Members that the paper had been drafted to update Members on Council’s Linguistic Diversity Policy and to gain approval on the following:
• To run another Irish language course for staff and Councillors to maintain commitments within the policy.
• To host another Ulster Scots cultural awareness afternoon for Councillors and staff.
• To hold another linguistic diversity group meeting with representatives from Gael Phobal, the Ulster Scots and the Ethnic Minority Community Association.
On the proposal of Councillor McNulty, seconded by Councillor McMenamin, it was agreed that any Member could attend any of the above and the Policy Position Paper was approved.
The Chief Executive (CE) informed Members that Council received 200–300 consultation documents. He stated that it was the CPO’s responsibility to read these and commended her on her work.
The Chairman also commended the CPO on her contribution.
Councillors McGill and Hussey joined the meeting at 7.40pm.
Chief Environmental Health Officer’s Report
The CEHO presented his report, a copy of which had been previously circulated to Members. Arising out of the report the following was discussed:
Test Purchase Exercise
The CEHO advised Members that on 7 August 2008, the Tobacco Control Officers undertook a number of test purchasing exercises in 17 retail shops, throughout the Strabane District Council area. He stated that this was done to determine if shops were complying with legislation, which made it an offence to sell tobacco products to anyone under the age of 16.
The CEHO also stated that the Environmental Health Department had previously sent a letter to all tobacco retailers advising them that Council would shortly be carrying out test purchases of cigarettes in local shops, using a child under the age of 16. He stated that in addition to the letter information packs, including training records, refusals log etc. had been delivered separately on an earlier date, to each tobacco retailer, by a Tobacco Control Officer.
He further added that as a result of the test purchase exercise, 17 shops had been visited and only 3 shops in the district sold cigarettes to a person under the age of 16. He stated that the child used in the exercise was 13 years old. He also added that the Tobacco Control Officer witnessed the sale of cigarettes to the 13 year old child. The CEHO informed Members that he sought approval to instigate legal action. He pointed out to Members that the existing legislation governing the sale of tobacco products had been amended from 1 September 2008. He stated that it was now an offence to sell tobacco products to anyone under the age of 18.
Councillor McMenamin expressed his disappointment at the way the test purchasing exercise was carried out. He stated that, in his opinion, some young people look older than their age, which could be misleading for retail staff. He also stated that the retail shops in question should be issued a formal caution rather than legal action been taken.
Councillor O’Kane stated that shop retailers employ young people and that, in his opinion, it could be difficult for a young shop assistant to determine the age of a person who wished to purchase cigarettes. He also stated that he was in support of a formal caution being issued. He expressed his disappointment with the wording used in the CEHO’s report i.e. ‘I am seeking permission to institute legal action, after consulting the Council Solicitor’. He proposed an amendment to the CEHO’S report stating that the wording used was misleading and could be misinterpreted.
Councillor McGuire joined the meeting at 7.45pm.
Councillor Kerrigan commended the Officers, stating that they had a job to do and that they should be supported in order to be able to set an example.
He stated that shop retailers had previously been advised on the issue and health warnings were displayed in the shops.
After further discussion, on the proposal of Councillor Kerrigan, seconded by Councillor Bresland, it was agreed with 10 votes for, 1 against and 1 abstention, to issue a formal caution to the relevant retail shops.
Air Quality Policy in Strabane
The CEHO highlighted a response from the Northern Ireland Assembly in relation to the above.
Councillor McNulty expressed his concern stating that in his opinion, the Department of Environment was reverting the responsibility to Strabane District Council. He stressed that fuel poverty and the re-opening of fireplaces, to install back burners, was putting pressure on the air quality legislation within the Strabane area.
Drinking Water Quality Report for Northern Ireland 2007
The CEHO highlighted the above report and sought Members’ comments.
Councillor Hussey expressed his concern with the above report and stated that in the Castlederg area the report highlights that there were traces of aluminium, iron and magnesium in the water. He sought clarification if householders were made aware of this and also proposed that further information would be obtained in relation to the issue.
It was agreed that the CEHO would obtain further information to be brought back to the next CARS Committee Meeting for further discussion.
On the proposal of Councillor McMenamin, seconded by Councillor Foley, the CEHO’s report was adopted.
Chief Building Control Officer’s Report
The Chief Building Control Officer (CBCO) presented his report, a copy of which had been previously circulated to Members. Arising out of the report the following was discussed:
The CBCO reported that there were 40 applications approved, which complied with the requirements of the Building Regulations (NI) 2000.
Councillor McHugh declared an interest in the following application as a relative of the applicant.
BR/2007/0360 - He also highlighted an error in the spelling of the applicant’s name and also the spelling of the school.
Councillors Hussey and McGill declared an interest in the following application as members of the WELB.
• Ecological Footprint Conference & Exhibition, 16 October 2008, Armagh at an estimated cost of £90.74.
• 5th National Conference on Substance & Alcohol Misuse, 2 & 3 October 2008, Killarney at an estimated cost of £617.49.
On the proposal of Councillor McNulty, seconded by Councillor McMenamin, it was agreed that any Member wishing to attend the above Conferences could do so.
• All-island Skills Conference, 9 October 2008, L, Derry at no cost.
On the proposal of Councillor McMenamin, seconded by Councillor McGill, it was agreed that an Officer would attend the above Conference.
On the proposal of Councillor McGill, seconded by Councillor McMenamin, it was agreed that the meeting would go “into committee”.
The meeting ended at 8.50pm.
The following does not form part of the Minutes recorded above but is included hereon in the interests of clarity:
At a meeting of Strabane District Council held on the day of 23 October 2008 the Minutes of the above Meeting were adopted as a true record on the proposal of Councillor O’Kane, seconded by Councillor McGuire, subject to the following amendment:-
* Delete ‘the Dental Service in Northern Ireland’ and insert ‘his local dentist’