Monday, September 07, 2009

Off to APHA.

I'm off to Newcastle upon Tyne for a few days for the annual Association of Port Health Authorities conference in my capacity as a Board Member.
Given the size of our port operation, Southampton is a significant player.
Port Health is one activity that recieves very little public interest (in fact Officers from other authorities complain that they struggle to get even elected Councillors interested) which is a little disconcerting as the work they do in keeping UK plc safe and well is of growing importance in this global age. Stopping unsafe imports of both finished food products but also food ingrediants is the obvious side of their work but stopping the spead of communicable diseases, looking after the Health & Safety interests of both crews and passengers, stopping the illegal import of dangerous or non compliant goods, assisting in the prevention of smuggling and people trafficking are all hugely important areas of work.
The interesting thing is that Labour started moves a few years ago to take responsibility away from local councils in the area of port health and centralise it in a new government quango (sorry, agency!) but drew away when it realised that, generally speaking, how effective councils were in this area and how much more expensive it would be if central government was to do it. Ordinarily, I guess that, on previous experience, that wouldn't have bothered them overly but a significant recharge is made to the importers themselves and not many of them would have stood for a huge hike in the prices!
Anyway, I am looking forward to the speakers and also the Newcastle nightlife- a few of the port health officers are into real ale and I am sure we will find some decent pubs plus I never have had (although I am assured it still exists) cask Newcastle Brown ale!


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