National award for innovative work with county curry houses

Pioneering work to boost Worcestershire’s economy by supporting an entire sector of food businesses to improve their practices and regulatory compliance has won a national award.

The way Worcestershire Regulatory Services (WRS) is helping curry houses and takeaways improve in areas like food composition, food safety and health and safety scooped the top “Innovation” award at the Better Business for All Awards in London on 8 March.

The award highlighted WRS’s special Asian Seminar Programme, which has brought over 60 Worcestershire restaurant businesses together in a series of specialised seminars held in each of the Bromsgrove District, Malvern Hills District, Redditch Borough, Worcester City, Wychavon District, and Wyre Forest District council areas.

WRS beat competition from locations across England to be recognised for its innovative collaboration with the Asian restaurant sector, after being nominated to the awards by the Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership (WLEP).

Through the seminars, which are arranged by WRS and the Bangladeshi Catering Association UK, with the help of a local partnership with the Worcester Islamic Association, Trading Standards and Environmental Health officers support restaurant owners and managers to gain confidence and understanding in self-compliance with regulations, as well as to understand the positive business support that local regulators provide for small businesses. The Rt Hon Sajid Javid, Minister for Business Innovation and Skills and MP for Bromsgrove has also dropped in to offer his support to the programme and local businesses.

As a result of the success of the programme the Bangladesh Caterers Association UK and the Guild of Bangladeshi Restaurateurs have made WRS their ‘Primary Authority’ nationwide. This establishes the county’s provider of regulatory services as the “go-to” authority for some 30,000 business members nationwide, although initially the priority focus is on restaurants and takeaways in the West Midlands.

Councillor Bronwen Behan, Chair of the WRS Joint Committee said, “We’re delighted to receive this award which comes after a lot of hard work by our officers to liaise with the trade. It’s great that the judges agreed that identifying and tackling issues in a way that brings businesses and regulators together like this is the best approach”.

“Helping businesses to thrive while ensuring public safety is our main goal as regulators and that’s why we try to positively support businesses in this way. I am sure that as a result we will see improvements in the way these businesses operate, which can only help the local economy to grow, and it also allows us to focus more resources on tackling more problematic businesses that perhaps aren’t as interested in improving standards.”

Gary Woodman, Executive Director of the WLEP said, “It is fantastic to see that the dedication of Worcestershire Regulatory Services has been recognised with this national award. We have seen the hugely positive impact that Worcestershire Regulatory Services has had on the local community with its collaborative approach with local food sector businesses.

“Worcestershire LEP is committed to developing innovation within the local business community and Worcestershire Regulatory Services deserves to be highly commended for its work with the Asian Seminar Programme.”

The Better Business for All Awards are run by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills’ Better Regulation Delivery Office and are designed to recognise local regulators that are working to understand businesses better, and tailoring their services to meet business needs.