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Origins of the EH&TS Service

The Service in the Borough of Bedford

The Environmental Health & Trading Standards Service was formed on 1st April 2009 when Bedford BC became a Unitary Authority.  Previously the work of Environmental Health and Trading Standards was separate and provided by the Borough Council and County Council respectively.  Since Bedford BC became a Unitary Authority the two services have come together as ‘one service’ to ensure the health, safety and well being of the public and the environment is protected, with local businesses being offered the full support of experienced Environmental Health and Trading Standards officers to assist them in their day-to-day trading activities.


No nuisance sign

Environmental Health

Bedford Borough Council’s Environmental Health Service is responsible for enforcing a wide range of legislation relating to protecting the health, safety and wellbeing of the public at home and in the workplace, as well as the wider environment.



The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines Environmental Health as:

‘… addressing all the physical, chemical, and biological factors external to a person, and all the related factors impacting behaviours.  It encompasses the assessment and control of those environmental factors that can potentially affect health.  It is targeted towards preventing disease and creating health-supportive environments.  This definition excludes behaviour not related to environment, as well as behaviour related to the social and cultural environment, and genetics’.


Environmental Health is one of the cornerstones of Local Government and was one of the primary reasons for the early formation of ‘local authorities’.  The origin of the profession is complex, borne in the late 1700s to early 1800s, it has evolved over time, when the health of the public was challenged for the first time due to agricultural and industrial revolutions of geographical areas, towns and cities.  Whilst these revolutions undoubtedly improved the lives and aspirations of working families, they also exposed people to workplaces that had potentially detrimental effects to their health and different living conditions that emerged.


As a result of industrialisation, particularly in cities such as London, the population of these areas expanded which caused people to live in ever increasingly over crowded conditions, with little in the way of sanitary provision.  These emerging conditions in the mid to late 1800s caused early public health reformers such as Sir Edwin Chadwick (Poor Law Commissioner), Dr John Snow (Physician) and Sir Joseph Bazalgette (Chief Engineer), to realise that public health was not being properly addressed or provided for the masses.  This was allowing epidemics of illnesses such as Cholera to impact on the mortality of the population – it was later identified in 1854 that the link to this public health epidemic was insanitary health and poor housing conditions.  Chadwick was commissioned to review these conditions and produce a Parliamentary Report in 1842 – ‘The Sanitary Conditions of the Labouring Population of Great Britain’.  The main thrust of the report was to improve overall sanitary conditions by ensuring houses had proper drainage systems, connected to mains drainage, with public areas maintained and kept clean, through the use of constant supplies of clean water at pressure.


In the years that followed Chadwick’s report there were various other reports, guidance, private legislation and acts produced to address public health.  However it was not until the Public Health Act 1848 was passed, which contained the statutory provision for sanitary reform and allowed for the formation of Local Boards of Health – the precursor to Local Authorities as we know them today.  This Act placed a statutory duty on the Boards to appoint inspectors/surveyors under the Medical Officer of Health to protect public health and sanitation.  Over the years these services have been delivered by Inspectors of Nuisances, Sanitary Inspectors, Public Health Inspectors and latterly Environmental Health Officers. 


The primary functions of Environmental Health, as it is known today, have placed a statutory duty on all Local Authorities to ensure their area, and the health of its residents, is protected from external factors that could be detrimental to the lives or environment they live in.  Many of the original principles and basic public health concepts such as nuisance, drainage, housing conditions, safety in the workplace, protection of the food chain, pest control etc, are still as relevant today as they were in Victorian England.


Environmental Health enforces many pieces of individual legislation that extends the statutory functions required to be delivered in order to protect the health of the public.  The key areas are Food Safety, Health & Safety, Communicable Disease Control, Private Sector Housing, Statutory Nuisance, Pollution Control, Air Quality, Pest Control, Dog Warden, Drainage and Public Health, Accumulations and Animal Health.


As a profession Environmental Health is supported by a number of organisations, these are the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH), as well as more specific organisations such as Institute of Occupational Safety & Health (IOSH), Institute of Acoustics (IOA) and the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH).  Further information regarding these and the Environmental Health profession can be found by following the links below:


Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH)

Occupational Safety & Health (IOSH)

Institute of Acoustics (IOA)

Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH)



Trading Standards

Bedford Borough Council’s Trading Standards Service is responsible for enforcing a wide range of legislation relating to the supply and distribution of goods and services.


The origins of the Trading Standards profession are taken from the field of ‘weights and measures’, where local officials were delegated the responsibility for ensuring fairness with regard to the trading of goods and services in a geographical area in exchange for payment.  As time went on the primary role of Weights and Measures Officers has been to maintain the integrity of commercial weighing and measuring equipment by routine testing of equipment and goods.  Technological advances and manufacturing processes have seen a decline in the traditional Weights & Measures Officer role.  Whilst certain functions remain at a local level, such as weights and measures inspections in local pubs and restaurants, the role of verifying measuring equipment such as petrol pumps, weigh bridges and other measuring equipment has largely been superseded by manufacturing advances and calibration techniques.


The profession has evolved over time by building on the foundations of protecting consumers to include wider consumer protection issues such as fraud, money laundering, intellectual property, consumer credit, food standards, animal health, safety of sports grounds, prevention of sales of counterfeit goods, sales of tobacco and alcohol to under-age buyers, and action to prevent exploitation of vulnerable consumers by scams and doorstep crime.


Trading Standards Services across the UK are delivered by 197 local authorities.  In Northern Ireland core TS services are provided by central government by the Department of Trade and Investment.


Trading Standards Services are often delivered by the County Councils – the LA structure in England, which is often a two tier system of County and District Councils delivering different services, has been the norm for many years.  Increasingly in recent years reorganisation within local authorities has meant that Trading Standards Services are being delivered as part of Unitary Authorities, where Trading Standards has become part of larger ‘Public Protection’ Teams, which often include Environmental Health and Licensing etc.


TS enforce many pieces of legislation, the key areas are Rogue Traders and Doorstep selling, Underage Sales, Food safety and Labelling (Food Hygiene is covered by Environmental health), Trade descriptions and Counterfeit Goods, Pricing, Consumer Credit, Product safety, Animal Health and Weights and Measures.


Trading Standards as a profession undertakes a high proportion of cross boarder regional work, often due to the nature of business and trading and the increasing use of the internet for trading purposes.  Much of this work is co-ordinated on a national and regional basis by the National Trading Standards Board (NTSB), who will strategically direct work programmes and resources to deal with larger scale initiatives and targeted work.  Examples of this type of regional co-ordination and work are Scambusters, the Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) and the National Tactical Tasking and Co-ordination Group (NTTCG).


As a profession Trading Standards is supported by a number of key organisations, these are the Trading Standards Institute (TSI), the National Trading Standards Board (NTSB) and the Association of Chief Trading Standards Officers (ACTSO).  Further information about these two organisations and the Trading Standards profession can be found by following the links below:


Trading Standards Institute (TSI)

National Trading Standards Board (NTSB) - hosted by ACTSO

Association of Chief Trading Standards Officers (ACTSO)


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Here you will find information on environmental and planning issues. This section provides a wealth of information including details on how to make or enquire about a planning application, rubbish, waste and recycling information.


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