Council bosses in Aberdeen are to “carefully monitor” the workload faced by staff after it was revealed resources have been diverted from key areas to protect the public.
Environmental health and trading standards employees have worked “extremely hard” over the last year, according to a new report which added staff have faced “very long hours” as a result of the additional pressures brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Local authority officers carried out nearly 4,000 interventions at businesses across the city between May last year and March this year.
Pandemic led to tight deadlines
The nature of the pandemic has also led to tight deadlines and “difficult circumstances”, according to the report.
It added that it had been necessary to divert resources away from some of the council’s statutory duties in order to ensure coronavirus regulations were being adhered to.
The report, which will go before Aberdeen City Council‘s public protection committee, reads: “Significant resource has been devoted to ensuring public health is protected through the application of the regulations and guidance in relation to the business restrictions. This has required the resources to be diverted from other statutory duties and performance indicators.
“In some areas, for example, food law, specific derogations have been provided, but in other areas this has been undertaken on the basis of prioritising on the public health priority.
“Visits to domestic premises have been limited to emergency situations. As we start to recommence ‘business as usual’ activities, this will require to continue to be balanced against additional demand on the council to ensure compliance with Covid related legislation and guidance.”
Concerns raised over workload of staff
Some key environmental health services have been maintained, such as blocked drains, doorstep crime and serious food hygiene complaints.
However, it also raised concerns about the staff workload.
The report adds: “Officers have worked extremely hard under difficult circumstances and tight deadlines to ensure that effective controls are implemented. This has necessitated very long hours and significant evening and weekend working.
“Officers across environmental health and trading standards have put themselves forward to deliver this. Officer workloads will continue to be carefully managed to ensure the capacity to provide the service is maintained.”
The report will go before the council’s public protection committee next Wednesday.