30 businesses hit with fines and notices under covid enforcement in South Tyneside - but 'vast majority' are complying

New figures have been released around South Tyneside businesses hit with council enforcement action under Covid-19 regulations.
Council chiefs have given a covid enforcement updateCouncil chiefs have given a covid enforcement update
Council chiefs have given a covid enforcement update

South Tyneside Council, like other local authorities, has powers to deal with businesses which breach regulations and risk the health and lives of residents.

Council officers continue to support all businesses, providing responses to Covid-related queries, offering support on the changing picture of Covid regulations and investigating where reports of ‘inadequate’ covid-secure measures are received.

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This week, councillors were told that around 30 actions, ranging from ‘letters of concern’ to fixed penalty notices, had been taken against businesses in the borough since November 2020.

A report prepared for the council’s Licensing and Regulatory Committee on Friday, June 11 said that general levels of Covid-compliance have remained “exceptionally high” across all business sectors.

However, council officers said that “some formal action has been necessary” in relation to borough businesses, including:

:: 11 letters of concern.

:: 14 prohibition notices.

:: One improvement notice.

:: Four fixed penalty notices.

The report to the committee reads: “The environmental health team has been at the forefront of the council’s Covid response, providing advice and guidance to local businesses navigating the pandemic and being the primary body with responsibility for ensuring Covid compliance and enforcement.

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“In 2020 complaints and requests for service from residents and businesses to the team increased by 50% to 6,661.

“The team’s ability to deliver some of the core functions has been significantly impacted by the pandemic and the skills of the team have been required to help provide necessary responses, significantly stretching resources in this area of work.”

According to the council report, in January 2021 retail businesses received enforcement and advice visits, and of the 465 visits to premises, only 29 required follow-up visits.

To help ease pressures on the service, an extra environmental health officer plus three business and community support officers were recruited in March 2021 to support the council’s business-related Covid work.

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Visits to business premises are carried out by environmental health with partners in Northumbria Police and the Health and Safety Executive.

Individual businesses that have seen enforcement action were not named in council committee papers.

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