Through enhancing communications across Council areas and enabling collective exploration of forthcoming issues affecting TS, the process and resultant partnership has delivered the following for those engaged:
1. Provision of a knowledge hub and joint public facing website to exchange and impart information relating to service provision and national and international service drivers.
2. Pooling of skills and knowledge to plan and provide CPD opportunities anticipating national and European developments in legislation.
3. Standardisation of operating procedures and methodology across partners governed in line with collectively agreed quality standards documentation.
In April 2013, a Service Level Agreement was created for each partner to commit to the Group for a period of four years, ensuring that the designation could be applied for and that each partner would have certainty that it would continue to exist for the duration of the designation. This was accompanied by an annual fee of £500 to provide collectivised services on behalf of partners. The Agreement set out a commitment from D&G Council, as host, to maintain a calibration lab in accordance with the Standard; maintain a quality system with a shared Quality Manual; organise internal and external auditing with the National Measurement Office and to provide a minimum of 10 hours CPD for every Authorised Verification Officer (AVO) within the partnership (TSOs can only become AVOs if they meet the required level of competency).
Partners, in turn, agreed to maintain their own weighing and measuring equipment to the prescribed standard; comply with the Quality Manual; have adequate liability insurance; ensure that officers attended the training provided; and to carry out their own internal auditing. Training was carried out over three sessions at the commencement of the Agreement in 2013 to ensure that each partner could guarantee a minimum level of competency in their TSOs and that all had a consistent approach. This training is now built into CPD sessions which meet the agreed level of 10 hours per annum, the minimum standard required for AVOs.
Annual audits are carried out involving all partners to ensure continued compliance and quarterly meetings provide a continual review platform where problems and best practice are shared in order to provide continuous improvement.