The principal concern of local authorities in an emergency is to provide support for the people in their area. Generally, this is achieved by co-operating with the emergency services in the overall response and by co-ordinating the response activities of organisations other than the emergency services.
Resources of the local authority will be used to lessen the effect of emergencies on people, property and infrastructure. In addition to dealing with the incident, normal support and care for the local and wider community must continue throughout any disruption.
As the emphasis moves in time from immediate response to recovery, the local authority will take a leading role in the rehabilitation of the community and the restoration of the environment.
Stevenage Borough Council as a local authority has particular responsibilities in emergencies in relation to the safety of structures; emergency shelter and re-housing and environmental health issues.
Stevenage Borough Council arrangements
Internal emergency procedures are in place to ensure that, should an incident occur, an Incident Management Team and Business Recovery Team can be established to ensure that both the demands of the incident and the demands of continuing normal service under unusual circumstances can be met. This includes planning how we will continue to function if the incident involved council property or staff.
Regular meetings and briefings are held with officers who have key emergency planning and business continuity roles.
The authority also has emergency planning officers responsible for oversight of emergency planning, business continuity and risk management.
Stevenage Borough Council buys into the traded service provided by Hertfordshire County Council District Emergency Planning Team and benefits from a dedicated HCC emergency planning officer who works in partnership with the borough to enhance the authority’s emergency preparedness.
In addition to key officers whose jobs automatically mean they could have a role to play in the council’s response to an incident, Stevenage Borough Council has a volunteer team. These are members of our staff who have volunteered to help in an incident, for example by staffing a rest centre, helping in the control centre, or supporting key officers at scene. All volunteers are provided with appropriate equipment for their role and take part in a training programme, so that they are familiar with their roles and responsibilities in an emergency.
Stevenage Borough Council has its own emergency plan that is flexible enough to deal with a variety of emergencies as well as being involved in the development of site specific plans.
In summary, the council’s emergency plan outlines:
- How the council will respond to an emergency;
- Plan activation;
- Roles and responsibilities;
- Incident control centre procedures
- Reception centre information, and
- How the council will recover from an incident.
The council also oversees the upkeep of local multi-agency plans for key sites.
Across Hertfordshire there are a range of event specific plans covering issues such as:
- Pandemic flu
- Aircraft accidents
- Mass fatalities
- Media and communication
- Care of people
Emergency planning involves a number of activities, the first of which aims to identify the risks. This risk assessment phase is necessary in order to prioritise for the latter planning stage. Risk assessment data is used to create a risk profile for the county presented in the form of a Community Risk Register. This has been supplemented at a district and borough level by a local level risk assessment.
The Hertfordshire Community Risk Register has been published on the Hertfordshire County Council website. To ensure continuity the CRR will be stored and updated centrally.
Hertfordshire Community Risk Register
Once the risks have been identified, planning can begin. Planning provides the response framework and is an ongoing process which requires constant development as risk assessments highlight new or changing threats, and lessons are learnt through exercise or experience.
Types of risk that are of interest to local emergency planners:
- Transport infrastructure i.e. road and rail
- Areas with large numbers of people such as town centres and shopping centres
- Severe weather such as storms, snow and flooding
- Key sites