Changing landscape for regulators takes centre stage at Year Ahead Conference
With a backdrop of devolution and a potential referendum on EU membership, partnership working and developing ‘soft’ skills dominated presentations at the Year Ahead conference.
The conference took place on 11 and 12 February in Stratford-upon-Avon and was organised by the CIEH in in partnership with the Better Regulation Delivery Office, the Chartered Trading Standards Institute and the Local Government Association.
“We are facing an immense amount of change in the UK what with current devolution programmes at a local level and there is the very real possibility that the British people will vote to leave the EU in the coming referendum,” said Tony Lewis, CIEH’s Head of Policy and Education.
“The changing landscape has put an immense pressure on regulatory services and those who deliver them. But what came through nearly every lecture and workshop at the Year Ahead conference is that for regulatory services to remain relevant, local authority offices need to develop their softer skills while working better with partners across the private and public spheres.”
The conference was attended by more than 190 people and brought together local authority and regulatory services personnel to share best practice and discuss the impact of changes to the political landscape.
Anne Godfrey, the CIEH’s new Chief Executive, opened the conference and the first session saw presentations on how to use data to develop intelligence about community needs and thus better shape services.
This was followed by a presentation from CIEH President, Tim Everett, on the consequences surrounding the UK leaving the EU.
The government is currently trying to increase the number of apprentices and a workshop on the afternoon of the first day looked at the development of two different apprenticeship schemes.
Both schemes have connections with environmental health and were underpinned by a strong drive to develop apprentices’ ‘soft’ skills, such as communications and how to gather evidence, in addition to specialist skills.
The second day of the conference saw presentations delivered by Steve Atkinson, of Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council and Paul Brookes, of Chelmsford City Council on how changes within their respective councils have impacted on the delivery of public and environmental health.
In particular, Steve Atkinson highlighted better outcomes at HBBC following a process of ‘co-location to collaboration’, where local services began to work with each other more effectively after they began to share the same office space for the first time.
Tony Lewis added: “Regulatory services are extremely important not only in keeping people safe and healthy but also for improving economic prosperity. Environmental health practitioners have shown in the past that they are adept at partnership working and developing their skills and we would urge our members that whatever changes there are on the horizon that they continue to show the strength of their work in protecting communities and improving people’s health and wellbeing.”