A group of council representatives set up to negotiate local government’s new public health role with the Department of Health will continue to run for another year.

The ‘health transition task group’, which is led by former Hammersmith and Fulham London Borough Council chief executive Geoff Alltimes, advises the department on councils’ progress with their new responsibilities.

It also lobbies for policy changes, such as the department’s decision to let councils carry out their own audits of their readiness for the new responsibilities.

The Local Government Association’s community wellbeing board agreed at a meeting on Wednesday to extend the group’s role for another year, meaning that it will continue to advise the department during the first year of councils’ public health responsibility, which begins in April. The DH will fund its administrative functions.

David Rogers, chair of the board, said he was pleased that the group’s role was “effectively replacing a DH-led structure with a sector-led one”.

Mr Alltimes said the most pressing issue for the group in the next year would be “making sure we get the benefits of integration”.  

Also at the meeting, Alan Farnell, leader of Warwickshire County Council, said councils had to find a way to stop “granting planning permissions that are inappropriate because they worsen health”, citing the establishment of a KFC drive-through restaurant opposite a school.

Paul Cosford, director for health protection at Public Health England, told Cllr Farnell that it was up to councils’ public health directors to “lead that discussion”, but said there was an “interesting question” about whether his organisation would intervene to challenge a council about the health consequences of its planning decisions.