Support the Soldiers: tackling health risks
Sir – With reference to your article and letters regarding the Support Our Troops fun day (WHT June 10): as stated in the article the council was in support of the event. We worked within extremely short deadlines provided by the organiser to give
Sir - With reference to your article and letters regarding the Support Our Troops fun day (WHT June 10): as stated in the article the council was in support of the event. We worked within extremely short deadlines provided by the organiser to give appropriate advice and guidance. In reality, events of this nature require detailed preparation to ensure they run smoothly, comply with the law and have measures to keep the public safe.
As part of a Safety Advisory Team, the council works with the emergency services and other agencies, such as the police and highways authority. The team were able to meet with the event organiser at very short notice to discuss arrangements.
Council officers attended the fun day, which is common for this type of event, particularly when they are being held for the first time. Problems that typically arise include the storage and handling of food, lack of food hygiene and movement of vehicles connected with the event.
The consequences of not operating in a safe environment can potentially result in significant risks to the public. We take for granted that when we eat at such events or in restaurants that we do not get unwell, and rightly so. The work of council officers engaged in food safety is to ensure that any such risks are minimised. The majority of our work revolves around giving advice and training; enforcement is very much a last resort.
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In the case of the 'Support Our Troops' event, advice was given to a number of stallholders and other participants, none of whom were prevented from going about their business.
I would like to point out that the officers did not receive payment for attending the event and I have to say that I do find some of the accusations levied at my team most unfair. Public health risks in the borough and in the UK are low, and for good reasons; high standards of health and safety are valued. Fatal incidents and reported food poisoning do still happen and it is the council that has to pick up the pieces when things go wrong.
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We look forward to working with the event organisers in connection with any future event, but must stress the importance of early event planning and sensible risk management, matters which the event organiser has already acknowledged.
Chris Conway, director (strategy and development), Welwyn Hatfield Council.