Regular updates from our Digital Content Executive, Sam Cleal


Saving school meals was just the start

27 June 2017

Saving school meals

Guest blog by Ben Reynolds. Image courtesy of Sustain. 

Following on from the successful campaign to save universal infant frees school meals from being cut, Ben Reynolds explores how the food and farming movement could apply the learning from this to a wider vision for Better Food Britain in the wake of Brexit.

Theresa May’s proposal to cut universal infant free school meals was rightly derided as ill thought through the moment it was announced. And it only went downhill, with more voices and evidence adding their weight, public support dropped from 23% to 12% over the course of the election. Following the election result, the horse not only appeared to be back in the stable but well and truly bolted in when the chairman of the Conservative 1922 Committee of government back-benchers derided the idea of replacing UIFSM as “a silly thing”.

Victory finally came with the absence of the proposed cuts within the Queen’s Speech. Cue celebrations from campaigners and parents alike: More money in struggling families’ pockets, 17,000 catering jobs across the UK saved, the future health of the nation now a little perkier, with resulting savings on the NHS not inconsiderable. It sounds, all in all, exactly the kind of policy you would promote if you wanted to get votes, not the other way around. Especially if your own party had introduced it in the first place!

So is the time now right to call for more? Considering the public support and the quantifiable benefit to children’s health, this would make a strong case on its own, but it’s not the only reason why we should be looking to go further, as the fall-out from leaving the EU over the next few years will no doubt show.

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Welcome to our New CIEH Wales Director

14 June 2017

10 interesting facts

CIEH Wales has gained a new director this month. Kate Thompson replaces Julie Barratt, who served 15 years with CIEH and has now taken semi-retirement. 

Kate told EHN Extra: ‘I am really excited about this job because I am passionate about environmental health… Julie has done some great work and I am conscious that, in following her, I have big boots to fill, but I am really looking forward to stepping up to the challenge.’ 

Among her top priorities, Kate will be ensuring that CIEH Wales retains its relevance to members, keeping it at the forefront of policy making and professional development. ‘To achieve that I’ll be bringing people together and making sure that we know what members and prospective members think. I’m a strong supporter of CIEH’s change to policy making and I am going to be facilitating that here in Wales.’ 

Originally from South Wales, Kate completed her environmental health degree in 1986 and then began her career as a district EHO in the London Borough of Harrow. ‘This was a great start to my career. It provided me with exposure to a wide range of environmental health issues’. Taking a keen interest in health promotion, she completed a master’s degree in 1990 at the University of Greenwich, carrying out research on Listeria monocytogenes. 

Kate then moved to the London Borough of Westminster, working initially in health promotion. She helped Westminster to gain its first charter mark for its 24-hour noise service, and, as manager of the pollution team, oversaw the council’s first review and assessment of air quality, highlighting traffic pollution. 

In 2002, Kate returned to Wales to manage the Vale of Glamorgan’s environmental health, trading standards and licensing services. During that time, she also chaired the Wales Food Safety Expert Panel. In 2012, Kate joined the Food Standards Agency in Wales as head of local authority support and audit. For the last year, she has been FSA Wales’ work stream lead for Regulating our Future. ‘Obviously, I’ll retain a keen interest in how ROF progresses in my new role at CIEH. The programme is evolving all the time and will continue to do so, particularly in the wider context of Brexit, business rate retention and local government finance.’

Kate says that helping to roll out important new responsibilities for EHPs under the new Public Health (Wales) Bill will be a key part of her job this year. 
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