Our Approach to Enforcement

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The borough council's policy on the use of enforcement powers

 Ashford Borough Council is responsible for protecting the public interest by regulating a very wide variety of activities undertaken by individuals and businesses throughout the borough. The council takes this responsibility very seriously. This policy has been produced in line with the Government's Regulators' Code.

Effective and well-targeted regulation is essential to protect people from harm and to stop anti-social behaviour and other serious nuisance that can so easily damage people's lives and community cohesion. Where people commit fraud the council will act to deter others and save tax-payers money being misused.

It is the responsibility of individuals and businesses to comply with the law. We will do all we can to help advise and treat people fairly. But, those who flout the system deliberately and/or repeatedly and cause serious harm can expect the strongest possible response. The range of actions open to the council and severity of penalties are often dictated by central government but, within these limits, the council will always aim to act in way which deters others from non-compliance.

More specific guidance on the detailed approach in each area of enforcement can be found by following the links below:

Our range of responses

There is a range of initial actions we can take to protect the quality of life in the borough and ensure people comply with legislation. This includes giving advice and guidance; running promotional campaigns (e.g. anti-litter) and carrying out inspections on site which may be programmed, intelligence-led or in response to complaints from members of the public. Some enforcement services will also have officers patrolling the streets.

Where non-compliance is discovered, we will assess the severity of the breach of regulations and the impact on others. Often the issue can be resolved by explaining legal requirements and how compliance can be achieved in a reasonable timescale. Where this fails action will escalate to:

  • Serving advisory letters, warnings, statutory notices or prohibitions detailing non-compliance and any resulting actions required
  • More formal enforcement action e.g. through legal proceedings

The decision to take firm but fair enforcement action will be taken on a case by case basis guided by the law and detailed policies that relate to the different areas of enforcement activity. The action taken will be in proportion to the gravity and nature of the non-compliance. Factors that will be taken into consideration will include:

  • The seriousness of the breach and the harm caused
  • The risk that the non-compliance poses to the safety or health of the public at large or to individuals
  • The actual or potential damage to economic well being or the quality of life of individuals or the community
  • Where evidence suggests that the breach was pre-meditated
  • Where false information has been supplied wilfully, or there has been an intent to deceive
  • Where the case involves a failure to comply in full or in part with the requirements of a statutory approval, license, notice or order
  • Where there is a history of previous warnings or similar breaches

Our commitment

This council takes enforcement matters and compliance with legal regulations or conditions seriously and will take appropriate action whenever it is justified.

We think it is important that those raising enforcement matters with the council understand that their concern is being dealt with, and that they have a keen interest in understanding outcomes. However, we must also respect the law that governs the release of personal information, including to third parties. This may limit the extent of feedback that may be provided about outcomes.

Accordingly, where enforcement is needed the person who has brought the matter to the council's attention can reasonably expect:

  • An acknowledgement
  • To be kept up to date about investigations at key stages as far as we are able by law
  • To be notified of the eventual outcome, as far as we are able by law

The individual service enforcement policies explain the performance standards we will aim to meet. Some enforcement actions can be taken very quickly – others, where there are rights of appeal for example, have timescales outside the council's cannot control and may take much longer.

Where the law permits, we will not normally reveal information which discloses the identity of the person informing us of the breach.