Plenty for restaurateurs to take away from Business Secretary

Sajid Javid, Bromsgrove MP and Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, was the guest speaker at a seminar for Indian restaurant and takeaway owners aimed to help them get to grips with food compliance issues.

Organised by Worcestershire Regulatory Services (WRS) and supported by the Worcestershire LEP (WLEP), the seminar is part of an innovative county-wide programme of initiatives led by Environmental Health and Trading Standards officers to build stronger relationships with the Bangladesh community who run the majority of the Indian restaurants and takeaways across the county. The project is now drawing interest from Sajid Javid MP and others for its innovation under the Better Business for All programme, which WRS and the WLEP helped to pioneer nationally.

The seminars were launched last year when WRS was approached by the Worcester Islamic Association to deliver a tailor-made training event. They wanted community members to get a better understanding of food and health and safety compliance issues and improve their Food Hygiene Rating scores.

A pilot event was run in Worcester and this latest session was held at Bromsgrove’s Spadesbourne Suite on Friday November 27.

It included presentations from officers on issues including food hygiene, health and safety and trading standards, all of which were translated into Sylheti.

Head of WRS Simon Wilkes said: “We have more than 200 restaurants producing different styles of food from the Indian sub-continent, and a similar number of takeaways across Worcestershire.

“Some businesses worry about a visit from their local Environmental Health or Trading Standards officer, and language barriers and fears about immigration issues can be additional obstacles to constructive relationships with businesses about food safety and composition. However, these events are helping us to build bridges between the regulators and business community and have been very successful across the county. We were delighted that one of our local MPs could find the time to speak at this latest seminar, particularly as he is the Secretary of State and a strong supporter of better and more supportive approaches to regulation.”

Gary Woodman, Executive Director of the WLEP, added: “It is pleasing to see that our work with WRS has been recognised by the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills. The programme is having a noticeably positive impact on our local businesses in the food supply chain and is an important part of communicating with our local business community.”

Seminars in the Malvern Hills and Wychavon districts will complete the programme next year.