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Scrutiny work on Environment & Public Health

by jamesbaker on 5 December, 2014

Green

As the Chair of the Economy and Environment scrutiny panel on Calderdale I’ve had three main priorities. This include holding the Highways Department to account on its performance and spending, working to build a greener economy here in Calderdale and ensuring the Council does everything it can to get the local economy back on track. Recently I’ve instigated a detailed scrutiny review into the local Environment and Public Health.

It is my opinion that for too long public health has been approached as a behavioral problem, with poor health being blamed on poor lifestyle choices that people make. I take the view however that most people try to act in a way that is good for their health, and that the major contributing factors to poor health are systematic factors. The long hours we have to work, environmental pollution such as air pollution, cold homes,  and living in  a  society where junk food is cheaper and quicker then fresh food. That’s why I wanted to examine the environmental impacts on public health, to see if there were things the Council could be doing to alter the physical environment in such a way that it led to all of us enjoying improved health.

The Scrutiny Review Group will be focussing on exploring the relationships between the local environment and public health to see if we can improve public health by making our environment a healthier place to live. Our objectives at forthcoming meetings are:- developing policies that promote active and sustainable travel across the borough (10th December, 2014); developing policies that reduce the negative effects of living in cold homes upon public health (early January, 2015); and developing policies that seek to mitigate the public health effects of environmental pollution (late January, 2015).

I would very much welcome the views and input from the public, businesses and other stakeholders in this work. If you are able to, please take the opportunity to share your views with the Review Group. You can do this by making a written submission, either e-mail it to Paul Preston, Scrutiny Support Officer: Paul.Preston@calderdale.gov.uk or by post to the Scrutiny Support Office, Room 10, Halifax Town Hall, Crossley Street, Halifax, HX1 1UJ. Alternatively, if you would like to attend a Review Group meeting to share and discuss your views, please contact Paul Preston in the first instance on 01422 393250 for further details. The terms of reference for the review are below.

Detailed Review of “the local Environment and Public Health” Approved Terms of Reference 1. Background

As part of its work plan for the 2014/15, Municipal Year, the Panel at its work planning session in August, 2014, at the request of the Chair (Cllr Baker) agreed to look into the possibility of undertaking a joint piece of detailed scrutiny review work with the Adults, Health and Social Care Scrutiny Panel (and/or other non-executive Councillors) on the topic of “the Environment and Public Health”.

Councillor Baker agreed to in the first instance discuss this matter further with the Chair of the Adults, Health and Social Care Scrutiny Panel (Councillor James) and further outline his proposals for taking this work forward at the September, 2014 meeting of the Panel.

Subsequently, the Economy and Environment Scrutiny Panel, at its meeting held on 11th September, 2014, Councillor Baker further outlined his reasoning for the undertaking of such a piece of work and the Panel made the following resolution:- “the Panel agree in principle to a detailed review being undertaken on the topic of “the Environment and Public Health” and the Chair be requested to develop more detailed “terms of reference” for such a review, including expressions of potential membership from other interested non-executive Councillors, not Members of this Panel, and provide an update back to the next meeting of this Panel.”

2. Detailed Review Membership

Membership: to be determined by the Panel, (but a suggested maximum membership of no more than 7 Members). This could include Members of the Economy and Environment Scrutiny Panel; Members of the Adults, Health and Social Care Scrutiny Panel; any other Councillors who are not a Member of the Cabinet.

The Chair (or Co-Chairs) of this detailed Review Group, to be determined by the Review Group at its first meeting

3. Review Objectives

To explore the correlations between the local environment and public health and identify any gaps in provision with particular focus on:

  1. Developing policies that promote active and sustainable travel across the borough.

  2. Developing policies that reduce the negative effects of living in cold homes upon public health.

  3. Developing policies that seek to mitigate the public health effects of environmental pollution.

4. Key Stakeholders

  • Portfolio Holders, Economy and Environment

  • Director, Economy and Environment

  • Portfolio Holder, Adults, Health and Social Care

  • Director, Adults, Health and Social Care

  • Director of Public Health

  • Chief Executive

  • Director of Communities and Business Change (TDF legacy)

  • Local Schools / Academies / Head of Learning Services

  • Residents (including those who live and/or work in Calderdale)

  • Businesses

  • Others to be identified as the review develops

5. Methodology

  • Undertake evidence gathering sessions interviewing key stakeholders in public.

  • Identify any expert advice that may be available from, for example, local universities, the Marmot report

  • Undertake site visits to exemplars of good practice

  • Desktop research and analysis

  • Horizon-scanning and local impact analysis of national, regional and sub-regional policy and strategy

6. Resources Required

Most work will be undertaken by the Scrutiny Support Officer and officers from Economy and Environment and/or Adults, Health and Social Care Directorates and/or the Public Health team. Transport may be required for some site visits.

7. Outline Timescales

To ensure that the review is thorough but focussed it is proposed that a final report including any long-term recommendations will be completed by the beginning of March, 2015 and submitted to the Economy and Environment Scrutiny Panel on 2nd April, 2015 for consideration, and seeking endorsement and approval.

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