Mrs C Bell, Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and Public Health; Miss D Morton, Deputy Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and Public Health; Mr A Scott-Clark, Director of Public Health; Mr B Watts, General Counsel; Mr M Rolfe, Head of Kent Scientific Services and Mr J Whiddett, Trading Standards Operations Manager were in attendance for this item.
1. The Chairman introduced the Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and Public Health, Director of Public Health and Monitoring Officer and invited them each to provide an overview of the decisions taken, timeline and multi-agency operations.
2. Mrs Bell gave a verbal overview of the Local Lockdown Directions decision making processes and confirmed that Public Health had contacted both event organisers and the respective District and Borough Councils with their concerns prior to the decisions. She added that the decisions had been taken in the public interest.
3. Mr Binks noted that, as the local Member, she had responded to the notification of the Broadstairs Christmas Market urgent decision, despite the report citing that she had made no comment. Mrs Binks confirmed her supported for the Broadstairs Christmas Market decision.
4. Mr Watts drew to the Committee’s attention the improvement in information reporting related to both Local Lockdown Directions, following the Committee’s request that reporting be provided at a greater depth and with the inclusion of the lessons learnt during the decision process.
5. A Member asked under what circumstances Public Health were made aware and involved in the actions to respond to events. Mr Scott-Clark confirmed that Public Health were informed through the information cell of the Kent Resilience Forum, which collected intelligence on events, developments and included cooperation with KCC Trading Standards.
6. Mr Scott-Clark was asked why the decision to close Broadstairs Christmas Market had taken place with such short notice. He confirmed that the event had opened later than had been anticipated due to initial decisions taken by the District Council, which delayed Public Health’s response as a result.
7. Mr Watts offered to provide a legal briefing to Members outlining the authority’s powers relating to Covid-19 social restriction enforcement, he noted the speed of regulation changes and policy developments. A Member recommended that a standing item concerning the new regulations and powers affecting the authority be added to the Committee’s Work Programme and that it include how Kent was set to respond to the changes, this would be included on the agenda for future Scrutiny Committee meetings.
RESOLVED that the Scrutiny Committee note the report.