Wealden District Council
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Food Safety Service Plan 2023-2024

Aims and Objectives

This Food Service Plan is an expression of Wealden District Council’s continuing commitment to Food Hygiene. The mission statement for this service is to

“Deliver an increasingly efficient and effective public health service which strives to promote and sustain a safe, prosperous community for businesses, residents and visitors.”

This plan has been prepared in accordance with paragraph 2.4 of the Food Law Code of Practice (2023).

  1. The purpose of this plan is to set out how Wealden will deliver Official Controls within its area.
  2. This service plan notes paragraph 6 of The Regulators Code (published April 2014), which states that “Regulators should ensure their approach to their regulatory activities is transparent”.
  3. The food hygiene service of Wealden is informed by the principles of:
    • Proportionately (in applying the law)
    • Consistency (of approach)
    • Targeting (of enforcement action)
    • Transparency (about how we operate and what those regulated may expect)
  4. The food hygiene service contributes to Wealden’s Strategy  Specifically, the aim for engaged communities – “We want our communities to  be safe” and the aim of a thriving economy “to be thriving and diverse. This will ensure business and employment opportunities for all.”
  5. Wealden has adopted an Equality Policy and the Environmental Health Service conducts equality monitoring.
  6. The Better Regulation Delivery Office placed food hygiene at Number 5 in their five priority regulatory outcomes for England (November 2011).


Wealden – Profile

Population: 160,151 (ONS UK 2021)

Area:              835 Km2

 Wealden District is mainly a rural area with five urban centres: Crowborough, Hailsham, Heathfield, Polegate and Uckfield. As a District Council, Wealden is concerned only with food hygiene; the food standards and feeding stuffs function is delivered by East Sussex County Council (Trading Standards).

Wealden enjoys some of the most unspoilt countryside in Southeast: the Ashdown Forest, the High Weald, parts of the South Downs, the Seven Sister cliffs, and Pevensey Levels. The District of Wealden contains pockets of rural, coastal, and urban living. The food businesses within the district reflects this mix. Small and micro businesses form a fundamental part of the Wealden economy with almost 90% of businesses in Wealden employing less than nine people.

Wealden District Council Structure

Wealden District Council Structure

For more information see our Council Service Structure webpage.

Decisions on food hygiene matters are delegated to the Cllr K Williams, Public Health, and Asset Management Portfolio Holder.

Cllr Williams makes decisions on policy matters regarding food hygiene and communicates these to the Director of Place.

The Director of Place, Chris Bending, directs the Head of Environmental Health accordingly, Richard Parker- Harding.

Wealden District Council Environmental Health Department Structure

Wealden Environmental Health Structure

This chart shows the structure for the Environmental Health service for Wealden District Council. A total of 21.75 full time officers are engaged in Environmental Health work for Wealden at an annual cost of £1,088,950.

Food Hygiene Stakeholders

The food hygiene service of Wealden District Council is carried out by the members of the Food and Safety team, as part of the shared Environmental Health service and interlinks with UKHSA (United Kingdom Health Security Agency) neighbouring local authorities, Food Standards Agency and other bodies as shown below.

Wealden Food Hygiene Stakeholders

The function of the team, in addition to food hygiene, is to advise on health and safety at work, investigate notifiable infectious diseases, regulate skin piercing, licence holiday caravan sites and residential mobile home sites, licence kennels and catteries, provide pest and dog control service and to risk assess private water supplies.

The service operates from the Civic Offices, Vicarage Lane, Hailsham from 8.30am – 5.00pm Monday to Friday. Planned out-of-hour work is undertaken and emergency calls are taken on our behalf by Cornwall Council on 01424 787868, who will contact a manager if necessary.

Any complaints can be submitted to foodhs@rother.gov.uk, or calls will be taken by customer services on 01323 443322.

Enforcement Policy

Wealden Council adopted an Enforcement Policy for the shared Environmental

Health Service in October 2014, Cabinet Minute 14/31 and is available at

EHEnforcementPolicy.pdf (wealden.gov.uk)

View the Environmental Health service standards and this service plan 

Food Hygiene in Wealden District

The profile of food businesses operating within Wealden district on 31 March 2023.

Wealden Type of Food PremisesNumber of Premises
Caring Premises138
Small Retailer91
Plus Unrated16

Each year the numbers of food businesses varies – the total of 1449 is a drop on previous years which have been about 1500. One hundred and twenty-six food businesses closed in 2022 -3; fifty-four changed hands and one hundred and one new food operators opened for business. Unrated food businesses are those that have applied to be registered but are awaiting their first inspection.

The service does not inspect each food business annually, instead it inspects according to risk and performance to make sure that the highest risk and the lowest performers receive the most attention.

Food Hygiene Intervention Ratings

The Food Standards Agency sets out a numerical scheme which local authorities must use at each food hygiene inspection, and this is used to determine.

  1. When the next intervention will be (date)
  2. What the next intervention will be (inspection/partial inspection/alternative)
  3. Food hygiene rating

This numerical assessment of the business is based on the hazards, risks, and controls. These figures are entered into the database and the date of the next inspection is planned. The same information is used to create the food hygiene rating to inform customers of the general standards within a food business.

A business that produces high risk food with good controls is seen once between twelve to eighteen months. This intervention frequency will increase to once in six to twelve months if the business serves a vulnerable group (elderly/infirm/young). Any business with poor controls will require the most attention as decided by the inspecting officer. All food hygiene inspections fall into one of these categories.

Category A and B (92+; 72+)

These are the highest risk food businesses and must be subject to an inspection, partial inspection, or audit at least every six months (A) and every 12 months with (B). It is Wealden’s policy that these businesses are fully inspected.

Category C (52-71)

These medium risk businesses will receive an inspection, at eighteen months, if they are broadly compliant it will be a partial inspection; otherwise, a full inspection will be made.

Category D (31+)

Category D premises are subject to an intervention every 24 months.

Where they are rated 30 or 40 for “type of food”, these businesses must be subject to inspection, partial inspection, or audit. Where the premises is rated less than 30 for type of food etc. it can alternate between official controls. We inspect all category D’s, partial inspections for those that are broadly compliant.

Category E (0-30)

The FSA advice on these lowest risk food businesses is that they could have an intervention every 36 months. It is our policy that these lowest risk food businesses are subject to a physical inspection or an alternative enforcement questionnaire every 36 months. It is important to retain observation of these lowest risk businesses to prevent minor issues becoming major over a long intervention interval.

Food Hygiene Rating Scheme

The food hygiene rating scheme was adopted by Wealden in April 2011 to provide information to consumers on the hygiene, structure, and management of a food business. At the end of an inspection the business is issued with one of the window stickers below. In England, the display of window stickers is not required by law, despite the fact it is in both Wales and Northern Ireland.

All food hygiene ratings are published at.

Search the Wealden area | Food Standards Agency

Business with a 3, 4 or 5 are deemed to be broadly compliant with food hygiene legislation and those with ratings of 0, 1 or 2 have failed.

Food Hygiene Ratings

In April 2023 – 98% of food businesses in Wealden were broadly compliant with food law.

Food Hygiene Ratings April 2023

FHRS ScoreAmount in April 2023Amount in April 2022
Broad Compliance98%99%

The decline in compliance with food hygiene ratings is mainly because of the cost-of-living crisis. Officers repeatedly found food businesses cutting costs which created hazards e.g., restricting use of electricity and gas, reducing cleaning (reduction in staff costs), terminating contracts for waste collection, pest control.

Food Hygiene Interventions Performance 2022-23

The number of food hygiene inspections due was five hundred and ninety-three,
we completed all but six exceeding the target at 99%. There was a
significant backlog of 141 inspections from 2021-2, created by our Covid 19
work. All but twenty-six of the inspection backlog of 141 were done.

The annual performance of the Food and Safety Team has restored to pre pandemic standard, as shown below.

Number of completed Food Hygiene Inspections
YearCompleted inspections

There was an increase of one hundred and one new food businesses operating in 2022-3. A further fifty-four food businesses changed hands. Each new business was visited to ensure they received the support and advice to operate safely.

As planned in 2022-3 an alternative enforcement strategy (AES) was adopted for eighty-three of the very low risk businesses. These businesses were contacted electronically and asked to complete an online survey about their hygiene arrangements. The vast majority gave satisfactory answers, those that did not were visited by an officer, if they were trading, they received a full inspection. One hundred and twenty-six food businesses ceased trading in 2022-3.

Service Delivery 2023-24

Wealden is committed to providing a full food hygiene service.

For the year 2023-4 the total number of food premises due for inspection is 640 plus 26 outstanding from 2022-3. These inspections are categorised as follows.

Food Rating CategoryAmount
Category A5
Category B101
Category C147
Category D235
Category E152
Carry Forward26

The food hygiene interventions are conducted to ensure the food business meets the requirements of food hygiene law. It is our policy that these planned inspections are given priority.

Our Approach

It is our policy to make food hygiene inspections without appointment. The Environmental Health Officer (EHO) will identify themselves to the food business owner (or person in charge) before starting the inspection. The intervention will be conducted in accordance with the Food Law Code 2023 in particular:

  • The hazards and risks will be assessed.
  • The controls will be verified.
  • The businesses validation will be examined.
  • The findings will be discussed.
  • A report of visit form will be left.
  • A follow up letter may be issued.

Environmental Health Officers also deal with licensing and health and safety issues during a food inspection e.g., checking premises licences are displayed in licensed premises.

Poorest Performers

Food businesses scoring 0-2 will receive more attention and support to continue to raise standards. This means that inspectors will make compliance checks (revisit) within three months of the initial inspection. If significant improvements have not been made Inspectors will take enforcement action. Those businesses which show little, or no improvement may be subject to enforcement action.


In 2022-3 a total of twenty-eight enforcement notices were issued for eight food businesses. Most notices required the completion of improvement works by a specified date. All were complied with. One simple caution was accepted by a business which was found to have poor standards.

Seasonal Businesses

There are seasonal food businesses within the district who trade only between June and September or in early December. These businesses are inspected according to the Food Standards Agency food hygiene intervention scheme (as 4.1 above). However, those categorised as C are scheduled for an intervention at 18 months which may fall within their closed period. In these cases, it is policy to bring these inspections forward, so they are inspected when they are trading.

Unrated Businesses

A business is unrated when it is registered with the local authority but is awaiting the first inspection. On 31 March 2023 there were sixteen unrated food businesses on the database.


Fifty-six revisits were made in 2022-3 to businesses for public health purposes and/or where significant statutory requirements were found on the programmed inspection. The number of revisits varies every year, as can be seen below.

Number of Food Hygiene Revisits
YearNumber of Revisits

The variance is because the Food Law Code specifies when a revisit should be made, i.e.., when hygiene, structure and/or management are poorly scored. It is Wealden policy that revisits are always made after the expiry of statutory notices and to any businesses rated 0-2 FHRS. EHOs are responsible for ensuring that poorly performing businesses reach at least a three, generally satisfactory within three months.

Food Businesses with 3 or 4 who wish to improve their score may apply for a revisit without charge after a three-month period or with charge once the work has been completed.

Food Hygiene Rating Scheme – Food Businesses

Service Requests

Complaints about foodstuffs, food businesses or handlers can be made directly to Environmental Health by emailing foodhs@rother.gov.uk or by telephone to 01323 443322.

We do not accept anonymous complaints, full contact details will be asked for, which will be kept confidential. The team will observe the shared service complaint investigation policy on initial response to a service request within 5 days and complete the investigation within 90 days. In 2022-3 we investigated one hundred and twelve requests for service regarding foods, food hygiene and safety in food businesses.

New Businesses

One hundred and one (101) new food businesses opened in the Wealden district in 2022-3. Each of these businesses was given advice and guidance on food hygiene and safety matters.

Every new food business is obliged to register with their local authority and this form is available on our website along with full advice on starting up a new food business at Starting a Food Businessl

Most food businesses close without notifying the local authority. Closures are generally discovered when an officer arrives to complete an inspection.


Wealden Council samples food to ensure it is clean and safe to eat.

Food samples are taken and sent to United Kingdom Health Security Agency (UKHSA) in Porton Down for examination.

In 2022-3 a total of twenty-seven food samples were taken from food businesses trading in Wealden. Some of the samples were part of UKHSA national studies into pork scratchings, hygiene and sandwiches, plant-based alternatives, hot and cold smoked fish, sushi/sashimi. Swabs were taken in kitchens serving food to the public to check cleaning was satisfactory. All samples were submitted to UKHSA at Porton Down for examination. All were satisfactory.

Primary Authority

Primary Authority allows businesses to be involved in their own regulation. It enables them to form a statutory partnership with one local authority which then provides robust and reliable advice for other local regulators, to take into account when carrying out inspections or addressing non-compliance. Wealden acts as a primary authority for one food business. Wealden complies with the primary authority principle by checking the appropriate website before conducting food hygiene inspections and noting any assured advice or inspection plans.

EU Exit and Import/Export of Food

Since 1st January 2021 certification of food before export into Europe is required. This means that every consignment of food must be inspected and certified by an Environmental Health Officer or other professional before export. This regime has imposed significant burdens and costs on both businesses and local authorities. EHOs within the shared service regularly issue certificates for the export of fish from Rye into the European Union. Before EU exit, food businesses could export without the need or cost of Export Health certificates.

There is one major company in Wealden who exports food outside the European Union every week. Environmental Health Officers must sign health certificates for this exporter weekly. In 2022-3 a total of 437 such certificates were issued to accompany the food consignment to its destination. Food businesses pay for this service.

Notifiable Diseases

In 2022-3 Wealden received 208 notifications of infectious diseases from UKHSA. Once notified, each case is contacted with advice about their illness to prevent further spread. E. coli 0157, Salmonella and Shigella are the most serious food borne illnesses – we interview these cases and give advice encouraging changes in behaviour to prevent further infections. In very rare cases, we will exclude infected persons from work. There were no outbreaks nor exclusions in 2022-3.

Covid 19198191
Hepatitis E121
E. coli 0157161310
Legionnaires Disease300
Shigella sonnei300

Food Alerts

Food hazard warnings are issued by the Food Standards Agency and are responded to in accordance with the Food Law Code 2022-3 and with written procedure. There were no food alerts for Wealden District Council action in 2022-3.

Advice for Food Businesses

  • Wealden Council offers a range of business advice through the website at Business Support . A business newsletter and support leaflet are available in hard copy or electronically to all and includes health and safety advice for business.
  • Advice is available for those thinking of starting a new business on the website at Starting up a business Should more detailed guidance be required, Environmental Health Officers will do so on request.
  • The Environmental Health service webpages provide food hygiene advise for new start-up businesses at Starting a Food Business


Budget 2023/24

  • Total Cost: £213,750
  • Employee Costs: £196,710
  • Supplies and Services: £11,850
  • Staff: 3.6 FTE

The specific monies allocated to the following areas are as below:

  • Sampling Budget: £7832 With PHE not Wealden
  • Legal Action: £1,000,000 For general council disasters and emergencies – not specific to food hygiene

The number of full-time equivalent staff working on food hygiene, including supervision and management, for 2023-4 is 3.6, authorised food officers are named below. Note EHORB indicates Registration with the Environmental health Officers Registration Board.

Environmental Health OfficerAdditional QualificationLevel Authorisation/InspectionLevel Authorisation/Enfocement
Edwards, SimonEHORB Registration Env Health DegreeA-EFull
Hoyland, RichardEHORB Registration Env Health DegreeA-EFull
Kamunda, MaybeeEHORB Registration Env Health DegreeA-EFull
Kane, UnaEHORB registrationEnv Health Degree MSc (Applied Micro)A-EFull
Oginni, OladayoEHORB Registration Env Health DegreeA-EFull
Piper, RichardEHORB Registration Env Health DegreeA-EFull
Powell, JamieEHORB Registration Env Health DegreeA-EFull
Simmonds, RachelEHORB Registration Env Health DegreeA-EFull
Whitcombe, AnnEHORB Registration Env Health DegreeA-EFull
Wright, PhilipEHORB Registration Env Health DegreeA-EFull

Other Officers, within the Environmental Health Department (but not within the Food and Safety team), who are authorised are as follows:

Parker-Harding, RichardHead of Environmental HealthFull Authorisation
Randolph, MarkSenior Environmental Health OfficerFull Authorisation
Beaumont, CatherineDeputy Head of Environmental HealthFull Authorisation

There are two pest control officers who provide professional advice to Environmental Health Officers and can give expert evidence to courts if required for an emergency closure of a food business.


During 2022-3 the existing M3 database was replaced by Idox Cloud. Environmental Health Manger provided training for all members of FAST, Including written procedures.

Staff Development

The shared Environmental Health service between Wealden and Rother has created resilience, improving collective knowledge and experience.

Annual appraisals are conducted to identify training needs which form an annual training programme. For 2023-4 training will be directed towards the use of the new cloud-based database, Idox Tascomi. Every member of the team also attends external seminars, to progress their professional knowledge and self-development.

During 2022-3 team meetings were usually held every six weeks predominantly in person, except for the poor weather in December. Senior managers have attended at least one team meeting during 2022-3. Full notes of meetings are available on the internet library FAST Team Meetings | RIAMS

Those officers outside Food and Safety Team were invited to some meetings to learn about new working procedures, specifically on use of the new database Idox Tascomi. Officers from outside the team do not conduct food hygiene inspections unless they have completed the required training and are up to date with food and safety procedures and policies. Newly qualified officers are subject to competency assessment using the FSA Competency Framework.

Sussex Food Liaison Group Meetings

Wealden is represented on the Sussex Food Liaison Group by the Food and Safety Team Manager. This liaison work ensures that our enforcement activities are consistent with those of our neighbours.

In 2022-3 the food and safety team participated in two consistency exercises; these are blind tests designed to ensure that individual officers are consistent with scoring. May 2022 – a local scenario and in November 2022 – a national exercise set by the FSA. The team score was generally consistent both locally and nationally.

Wealden is represented on the CIEH Sussex Branch of the Food Study Group, and UKHSA meetings on infection control.

Quality Assessment

Each year Wealden Council’s performance against this plan is measured, using all the specified targets, standards, and any targeted outcomes within this plan. It will specify where there has been variance from the plan and the reason for that variance.

Any areas in need of improvement will be specified and an action plan put in place to implement their improvement. The bulk of the inspection backlog, from 2021-2 has been cleared, with a small number to complete in 2023-4.

The service subscribes to RIAMS, Food | RIAMS an on-line Environmental health library service, providing links to national advice and guidance for Environmental Health practitioners. In addition, there is material available on the FSA’s website and their communications hub. There is also a library of law encyclopaedias and reference books in the office.

National Recognition

In March 2023, Wealden was rated No. 2 council in England and Wales, for its prompt and consistent uploading of Food Hygiene Ratings to the food.gov. website.

Ten Year Achievement

The shared service between Wealden Environmental health and Rother began in January 2013. This marriage between the two Environmental health departments has been very successful. In January 2013, the number of food businesses in Wealden with a rating of five very good was 655. This figure in April 2023 is 980.

Food Hygiene Ratings Compared 2013 and 2023
Hygiene Rating20132023

Food Hygiene Ratings for Wealden food businesses are available at  Search the Wealden area | Food Standards Agency

Agreed and Approved

This service plan has been agreed by Cllr K Williams, portfolio holder, and is  approved by full council and is published on the Wealden District Council website.

Mr R Parker-Harding BSc (Hons) MSc DMS MCIEH CIEnv AMIOA

Chartered Environmental Health Practitioner

Head of Environmental Health

Dated: 4th July 2023

Councillor Mr K Williams

Cabinet Portfolio Holder Public Health and Asset Management

Dated: 4th July 2023


E-mail: foodhs@rother.gov.uk
Website: Wealden District Council
Telephone: 01323 644222 or 01424 787000.
Address: Vicarage Lane Hailsham East Sussex BN27 2AX