Report of Director of Public Health and Wellbeing
The Committee received a report to provide an update on the Council’s Resilience and Emergency Planning activities for 2021/22.
Gateshead Council along with other Local Authorities are defined as a Category 1 Responder – an organisation likely to be at the core of most emergencies. Other Category 1 Responders include Northumbria Police, Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service, North East Ambulance Service and NHS England. Category 1 Responders are subject to the full set of civil protection duties which requires them to:
- assess the risk of emergencies occurring and use this to inform contingency planning;
- put in place emergency plans;
- put in place business continuity management arrangements;
- put in place arrangements to make information available to the public about civil protection matters and maintain arrangements to warn, inform and advise the public in the event of an emergency;
- share information with other local responders to enhance co-ordination;
- co-operate with other local responders to enhance co-ordination and efficiency;
- provide advice and assistance to businesses and voluntary organisations about business continuity management (local authorities only).
The Councils Emergency Response Team is led by the Service Director for Transformation, System Resilience and EPRR and the Resilience & Emergency Planning Coordinator during the In-Hours period.
During the Out of Hours period, a rota is in place which is covered by Executive Directors/Service Directors (who are contractually obliged to undertake this role) and a Duty Officer. Should an incident be declared, the Director would assume the role of Incident Director and provide strategic leadership and commit resources as appropriate whilst the Duty Officer would gather information about the incident, advise the Incident Director on the appropriate strategy/response as well as coordinate Council assets to assist in the management of the incident.
The Emergency Response Team has responded to the following incidents during 2021 and up to the present date:
· February 2020 to present – COVID-19:
· 15th January 2021 – Care Call System Loss:
· 28th February 2021 – Campground Fire:
· 5th March 2021 – Police Operation Blencathra:
· 31st March 2021 – Eslington Court Flooding:
· 9th April 2021 – Operation Forth Bridge:
· 5th June 2021 – Redheugh Court Fire:
· 26th November 2021 – Storm Arwen:
· 24th January 2022 – Ouseburn Farm Avian Influenza Outbreak:
· 29th January 2022 – Storm Malik
· 7th February 2022 – Shee Recycling Centre Fire:
· 16th – 22nd February 2022 – Storms Dudley, Eunice and Franklin:
· 21st February 2022 - Rowlands Gill Avian Influenza Outbreak:
· 23rd March 2022 – Present – Ukraine Situation:
· 31st March 2022 – Civic Centre Lightning Strike:
· 5th April 2022 – Angel Court Fire Safety:
2021/22 Storm Responses and Debriefs
The Northeast was subjected to some significant storms between late November 2021 and late February 2022. The following paragraphs provide an overview of the Council’s response to each of these storms, the major learning points and the development work that has since been undertaken to strengthen future responses.
An official debrief is undertaken following each incident or exercise that the Council’s Emergency Response Team has been involved in. Issues are noted and recorded as they occur and also via debrief questionnaires that are issued to all Council officers that have undertaken a role in the response. As part of the Storm Arwen debrief questionnaires were also issued to councillors and community volunteers, due to their involvement in the incident.
The Protect Duty is a planned legislation that will require organisations with publicly accessible spaces to formally assess the potential risks and mitigations required to protect the public against terrorist attacks. The proposals within the duty have been driven by terrorist attacks in recent years both at home and abroad, but with a particular focus on ‘Martyn’s Law’ and the Manchester Arena bombing.
In 2021 the Government launched a public consultation on the proposed Protect Duty to gauge opinion on the potential physical locations and organisations to be included in the legislation, how this would be administered and what support would be required from Government.
The Resilience and Emergency Planning Team and other Council service representatives has since attended several workshops and briefing sessions, which have been hosted by the Regional Counter Terrorism Team for the North. This has been in preparation for the initial Pilot stage of the proposed Protect Duty, which is the Publicly Accessible Locations (PALs) Pilot, which began on 1st April 2022 and will continue to be developed throughout the remainder of the current financial year. PALs is being piloted in the North and is being undertaken by the 33 local authorities in the Counter Terrorism Team for the North’s area.
The focus of the PALs Pilot will be to identify publicly accessible ‘Zones’ within the Gateshead borough, prioritise them based on perceived risks and local intelligence and then identify current security gaps and develop plans for mitigation based on a Government framework. The initial definition of a ‘zone’ is currently ambiguous and could range from large geographical areas to smaller areas such as parks or business and industrial areas. This definition will be updated nationally as the pilot develops and identifies areas of good practice over the course of the year.
It was suggested that this was being claimed to be a once in a century event, however, it was felt that we need to be ready for events such as these happening every year.
It was noted with regards to Avian flu we should have this as part of an annual programme with something on the Council’s website giving advice about building cages now.
It was suggested we could look at having a voluntary register of equipment. It was noted that this was something which could be looked at but might prove difficult due to the insurance and other legal issues.
It was suggested that we might need to have a drought plan in place as we have had an incredibly dry winter.
It was noted that officers should be congratulated, residents of Eslington Court had nothing but good things to say about the way the flooding was handled.
RESOLVED - (i) That the comments of the Committee be noted.
(ii) that the Committee has indicated it is satisfied with the work undertaken.
(iii) that a further progress report be presented in six months.