Joint Committee on Draft Civil Contingencies Bill Written Evidence

Memorandum from West Sussex County Council

  I am sorry to have to decline the invitation to attend the House of Lords Select Committee discussion. I am afraid that the timing is not convenient and I am currently in the process of changing County Emergency Planning Officers, so would not be able to send a representative.

  I am, however, involved as the local authority representative of all chief executives in the South East region in the Government Office Regional Resilience Forum. Both at that level and on behalf of the County Council, I have therefore been close to discussions about the Bill. Our views are positive that this is good legislation, well-written and addresses the main issues that we wish to see tackled. There will always be concerns about the level of funding but on balance, we would much prefer to see funding for emergency planning and civil contingencies coming through the general grant formula, now known as FSS (formerly SSA). Through that formula, proper account can be taken of population differences, sparsity and so on and while we will always argue and negotiate over what goes into the formula, that approach is preferable, in our view, to specific grants.

  We have been pleased with the dialogue that we have enjoyed with those preparing this legislation, which gives us confidence in a good outcome. Issues of concern remain:

    —  the quantum of funding and Government's ability to lever in sufficient funds to take accounts of the costs of doing the job properly—but then, that applies to all spending programmes, whether to do with the fire service, care for the elderly, highways and so on.

    —  Government's own arrangements, both in terms of ability to organise across the various departments to deal with civil contingencies at national level and also training, preparing and paying for the right resources to have the capacity and capability to operate well at national level. Our view is that on the whole, we are extremely professional and well-prepared to deal with events at the local level, we are coming together to add value at regional level where it is necessary, but we see little evidence that national Government departments will look to their own weaknesses and lack of ability to join up to match those other levels. Experience during the foot and mouth, fuel and flooding events pointed to the need for more co-ordination and training.

  I hope these comments will be helpful to you.

previous page contents next page

House of Lords home page Parliament home page House of Commons home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2003
Prepared 28 November 2003