Memorandum from Tees Valley Chief Executives
Group (Darlington, Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Stockton-on-Tees
and Redcar and Cleveland Borough Councils)
Q1. Is the definition of emergency the right
one? If not, in what ways should it be tightened or expanded to
exclude certain classes of event or situation?
It is considered that the definition should
be tightened. As proposed, it is so wide that it can conceivably
cover virtually any eventuality that one can bring to mind and
thus is contrary to the statement in the consultation document
(Chapter 2, point 7) that it establishes a clear minimum threshold.
Being so wide could lead to the public having aspirations and
expectations far above the nature of response that can reasonably
and realistically be achieved.
It is also strongly recommended that the government
adopts its own definition of major emergency from "Dealing
with Disaster" ie "an event . . . on such a scale that
the effects cannot be dealt with by the emergency services, local
authorities and other organisations as part of their normal day
to day activities". Any definition in the new Civil Contingencies
Bill must be compatible with the term "major emergency"
as defined in "Dealing with Disaster".
The term "serious threat" is woolly
and therefore guidance is necessary to determine what would trigger
an event that was considered to be a "serious threat".
Without such guidance or stronger definition within the Bill,
there may be inconsistency of approach across the country.
Q2. Do you agree that the obligations imposed
on both Category 1 and 2 responders by or under the new framework
will ensure operationally effective and financially efficient
planning and response to emergencies at the local level? If not,
how should these obligations be increased or reduced?
Duties imposed by or under the new legislation
have the potential to improve operational effectiveness if they
complement, build on and improve existing multi-agency arrangements
and plans at a local level. However, the extent of the increase
in operational effectiveness and financial efficiency in planning
and response will be dependent upon the clarity and scope of the
regulations yet to be announced. Best practice, close liaison
and working practices between all Category 1 responders will need
to be paramount to ensure that there is no duplication of effort.
It is acknowledged that a local authority needs
to have in place business continuity plans to enable it to continue
delivery of its functions, but this is irrespective of whether
or not an emergency has occurred in the wider community. It is
therefore considered that there is an unnecessary link created
between business continuity and being able to continue delivery
of functions during an "emergency" as defined in the
draft Bill. The need for a local authority to invoke their business
continuity plan, or part of it, could either be for the same emergency
as defined in the Bill or one solely affecting the local authority.
The response would be the same, notwithstanding which "emergency"
had occurred. This ambiguity therefore must be addressed, with
clearer definition given within the legislation or guidance.
Q3. Do you agree that the membership of categories
1 and 2 is right? If not, which organisations should be added,
moved or removed?
It is considered that the following should be
included as Category 2 responders:
NHS PCT's (primary care trusts) and
casualty receiving hospitals.
Road Haulage Association and/or Highways
Organisations which have an emergency
response through national schemes ie NAIR (National Arrangements
for Incidents Involving Radioactivity); RADSAFE and CHEMSAFE.
Further, the consultation document states that
Category 2 responders are "co-operating bodies" who
are less likely to be involved in the heart of planning work but
will be heavily involved in incidents that affect their sector.
Therefore it is considered that major chemical and/or pipeline
companies etc whose activities have the capacity to create an
emergency or compound the effects of a pre-existing situation
should become Category 2 responders.
Q4. Do you agree that the Bill gives the
Government the right balance of regulation making powers to meet
its aims of consistency and flexibility? If not, please explain
how the powers should be expanded or constrained.
Only examination of any Regulations issued and
their detail will determine if the right balance has been struck.
It is therefore particularly important that a proper consultation
mechanism is put in place that allows for full consideration of
the draft Regulations before their implementation.
Q5. Do you agree that consistent arrangements
for multi-agency working should be established, through the creation
of Local Resilience Forums? If not, how else should consistency
Within the Tees Valley area, a Strategic Senior
Co-ordinating Group, chaired by the Chief Constable, already exists
with the aim of ensuring consistent arrangements for multi-agency
working, planning and response to major incidents. This arrangement
functions effectively and can be identified as best practice in
order that others can use it as a model. To allow uniformity across
the country, such groups could be renamed "Local Resilience
Further, an Officer Working Group currently
exists that brings together those agencies, identified as category
1 and 2 responders within the draft legislation. Such a group
generally meets the requirements set out in the consultation document
and again should be seen as best practice.
Q6. Do you agree that the partial Regulatory
Impact Assessment accurately reflects the costs and benefits of
the Bill proposals? If not, how should it be changed?
The Regulatory Impact Assessment (RIA) does
not reflect fully the costs arising from the Bills proposals in
respect of local authorities. It is considered that the cost cannot
be adequately assessed until the Bill is enacted and details of
the Regulations known. It is however clear that the new definition
of emergency takes civil protection far beyond what is currently
expected to be in place and this is highly likely to have cost
implications. Furthermore, the draft Bill raises the overall aspirations
for improved resilience, together with raises public expectations,
without recognising the costs that this is likely to involve.
Q7. Do you agree that funding for Category
1 local authorities should be transferred from specific grant
(Civil Defence Grant) to Revenue Support Grant? If not, why should
specific grant be retained?
It is our belief that a greater level of funding
will ultimately be needed for emergency planning.
It is acknowledged that the funding for local
authorities will be transferred to revenue support grant. Therefore
local authorities will need to ensure appropriate funding is made
available to the emergency planning service for it to effectively
meet the new and significant civil protection duties being placed
on local authorities, combined with the proposals for "robust"
performance management. However, Emergency Planning Units will
need to ensure funding bids in the future can be quantified and
The government must ensure that robust transitional
arrangements are put in place during the change process.
Q8. Do you agree that the level of funding
to support the Bill is sufficient? If not, please explain why
you believe it to be too high or too low.
It has been recognised by the Local Government
Association that the current level of funding (£19 million
Civil Defence Grant) is nationally insufficient to support the
current level of local authority civil protection activities and
we support that view. Locally, our local authorities already supplement
the grant in order to fulfil their emergency planning responsibilities.
Accordingly, on a national basis, a large increase in funding
will be necessary to support the duties and responsibilities for
local authorities that flow from the draft Bill.
Increases in costs are likely to flow from the
new and additional duties arising from:
Greater emphasis on risk assessment
Preventing emergencies from occurring;
Warning and informing the public;
Participation in initiatives arising
from the new Regional tier of resilience.
It is clear that as a result of this legislation
there will be a greater public awareness of emergency planning
and civil contingencies, together with higher public expectations
and quicker condemnation if their expectations are not met. It
will be irrelevant to them, if what is expected, is beyond the
capability of local authorities to plan for with current resources
and in the absence of stockpiles of resources.
It is also likely that the introduction of standards
and a monitoring process will generate a much greater level of
planning and training activities than is currently the case.
Q9. Do you agree that performance should
be audited through existing mechanisms? If not, what mechanism
would you like to see established?
It is acknowledged that performance should be
managed and audited through both existing internal procedures
and the comprehensive performance assessment process carried out
by the Audit Commission.
We would be against any form of auditing being
performed by the Regional Resilience Team.
Q10. Do you agree with the role of Regional
Nominated Co-ordinator? If not, who should take responsibility
at the regional level, and with what responsibilities?
This role is necessary during a regional crisis
to ensure that the communications links between central government
and local multi-agency commands are in place and the crisis is
being managed and led appropriately.
However, there is concern over the intention
to select this person dependant upon their specialist knowledge
for the type of emergency occurring, rather than leadership skills
and crisis management knowledge. We strongly believe that whilst
specialist knowledge is required, it should be in an advisory
role in support of the Regional Nominated Co-ordinator. It is
considered that a cadre of pre-selected RNC's, based upon leadership
skills and strategic management and crisis management experience
should be identified.
Further, clarification is needed regarding funding
of any requirements set by the RNC. The tasking of resources at
the point of delivery must be met by appropriate funding. If the
RNC declares certain action should be taken that is beyond the
local resource level, even given partnership working, there must
be funding available, either through a new version of the Bellwin
Scheme or from central government.
Q11. Do you agree with the principle of applying
special legislative measures on a regional basis? Please explain
It is clear that there is a need to be able
to apply "special legislative measures" in certain circumstances
and to a particular region(s).
Q12. Do you agree that the current emergency
powers framework is outdated and needs to be replaced? If you
do not think it should be replaced, please explain why.
Q13. Do you agree that the circumstances
in which special legislative measures may be taken should be widened
from limited threats to public welfare to include threats to the
environment, to the political, administrative and economic stability
of the UK and to threats to its security resulting from war or
terrorism? If not, how would you like to see the circumstances
narrowed or extended?
Q14. Do you agree that the use of special
legislative measures should be possible on a sub-UK basis? If
not, please explain.
Q15. Do you agree that authority to declare
that special legislative measures are necessary should remain
with The Queen as Head of State, acting on the advice of Ministers?
If not, who should it sit with?
Q16. Do you agree that in the event the process
of making a Royal Proclamation would cause a delay which might
result in significant damage or harm, a Secretary of State should
be able to make the declaration in the place of The Queen as Head
of State, acting on the advice of Ministers? If not, is delay
acceptable or is there another alternative mechanism?
Yes, providing there is proper accountability
and the lack of royal proclamation is notified to all parties,
in writing, at the time the Secretary of State makes the order.
Q17. Do you agree that emergency regulations
should be treated as primary legislation for the purposes of the
Human Rights Act? If not, please explain why.
Questions 18 to 23.
These questions relate to Scotland, Wales, Northern
Ireland and London and we are not in a position to comment.