People flouting food hygiene laws in South Northamptonshire can now be prosecuted more ‘quickly and efficiently’ after councillors agreed to allow officers to start legal proceedings.
Under its previous policy, office staff at The Forum had to gain the approval of the council’s cabinet if they wanted to launch a legal bid. This was the case just two months ago in July, when the cabinet agreed to such a prosecution.
But the elected members found it strange that food was the only enforcement department at the authority that required their approval to begin prosecuting offenders. And following the July meeting, they requested that consideration be given to changing the policy.
And that amendment was put forward at the latest cabinet meeting on Monday (September 9). Councillor Peter Rawlinson, portfolio holder for governance, said: “We discovered our process required officers to come back to us. We are proposing that we amend it so that action can be taken under delegated powers.”
The move was backed by council leader Ian McCord, and the rest of his cabinet. Councillor McCord had to leave the room at the July cabinet meeting, after declaring that he personally knew one of the involved parties.
Councillor McCord said: “I was surprised that we even had a role, it just didn’t seem like something we should have a role in. Justice should take its course without the influence of councillors. We could be accused of prosecuting people for political reasons, and not because they have fallen foul of food regulations.”