backPrimary Authority

Primary Authority enables businesses to form a legal partnership with a local authority, which then provides assured and tailored advice on complying with environmental health, trading standards or fire safety regulations that other local regulators must respect.

Primary Authority offers WSTA members greater confidence that they are complying within their regulated activities and reduces their risk of contravening legislation.

The WSTA and Primary Authority

Primary Authority offers businesses the opportunity to form a legally recognised partnership with a local authority of their choice (known as the primary authority).

The WSTA entered a Primary Authority relationship with Salford City Council via the Greater Manchester Regulatory Centre of Excellence at the end of 2017, and with the Shared Regulatory Services of Bridgend, Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan, in Wales in April 2020.

This means that we have two legal partnerships covering both members in England and Wales. Most advice will also apply equally to Scotland as well.

As part of these partnerships we can provide members with assured, consistent regulatory advice on that makes it simpler and easier to comply with environmental health, trading standards and fire safety legislation. Primary Authority Assured Advice is binding on trading standards departments in other areas who should respect it when regulating WSTA members in their area.  In this way, Primary Authority promotes consistency and fairness in the way that local councils enforce regulations. It provides members with greater confidence that, provided you follow the advice given, you are complying with the law.

All WSTA members are automatically included in the scheme as part of their membership benefits.

Assured advice is binding on all trading standards departments in England and Wales. Enforcing authorities should respect assured advice when regulating WSTA members in any areas of England and Wales. This means that the advice stands no matter where, in England or Wales, you are based. Some types of advice are also applicable to Scotland.

If you follow the advice issued you will know that you are working within the law. This gives you peace of mind and more time to focus on your business.

Having members all over the UK means that each one is potentially subject to different advice on the same issues. This is especially true for complex or ambiguous regulations where one authority may interpret the requirements differently to another authority. A co-ordinated partnership means that we can approach our partners, seek co-ordinated advice from them and disseminate this to members. This provides consist advice for members and reassurance for enforcers that our members are proactive in trying to achieve compliance.

Assured advice is legal binding advice. It is provided to members as part of their membership fee. Following assured advice provides members with peace of mind that they are working within the law.

We can obtain assured advice from on the following issues:

Weights and measures.

Fair trading.

Food standards.

Food safety and hygiene.

Fire safety.

This depends on whether the advice is on a reserved matter or a devolved matter. The WSTA has a primary authority partnership in England and one in Wales meaning that any advice received, whether it be reserved or devolved, will apply in both England and Wales.

‘Reserved’ matters include advice on fair trading, metrology and fire safety. We would seek advice from our English partner on these issues and the advice would be valid in England, Wales, and Scotland.

‘Devolved’ matters include advice on age restricted products, food safety & hygiene, food standards and general licensing. We would seek separate advice from our two partners on this and so Salford’s advice would be binding in England, whilst Bridgend, Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan’s advice would be valid in Wales.

Devolved matters are outside the scope of Primary Authority in Scotland.

Members should email kelly@wsta.co.uk with any issues they believe might be suitable for assured advice. We can seek assured advice on issues that affect more than one of our members. We cannot ask for assured advice for individual members on issues that only affect their business.

Yes. We can ask for informal, non-binding advice. This is helpful if we are simply seeking an opinion from enforcement officers but don’t want any formal advice that would mean we’re tied down to a particular legal interpretation.

We can also seek ‘approval’ on member advice that we send out in response to issues not covered by regulations e.g. declaring voluntary health information, calculation of units of alcohol for wine. In these instances, the advice sent out to members is forwarded to our partners who then add it to the Primary Authority register. Enforcement officers can then check for advice provided on the register prior to making visits to members.

We are able to seek ‘best practice’ advice on issues under the Licensing Act 2003. Most of the 2003 Act is not in scope of primary authority and so assured advice cannot be sought on this. Although best practice advice is not binding on other enforcement authorities around the country, it does show that WSTA members are keen to self-regulate and are proactive in ensuring that they remain compliant.

In short, you need to make sure that you want to know a definitive answer! Don’t ask questions that might curb your innovation or potentially cause difficulties if our partners interpret something in a different way than you anticipated. Assured advice is valid for 1 year, after which time it is reviewed to make sure it is still valid.

GMRCE

Wales Primary Authority