Agenda item

Resilience and Emergency Planning Annual Update

Report of the Director of Public Health and Wellbeing


 The Committee received a report to provide an annual update on the Council’s Resilience and Emergency Planning Activities.


The Council’s Resilience and Emergency Planning functions continue to operate in adherence with the Civil Contingencies Act 2004 (the Act), ensuring we perform our statutory duties in collaboration with our partners and communities.  Within the Act the Council are categorised as Category 1 responders.


The Council’s Resilience and Emergency Planning Team has recently been restructured following some recent changes in personnel.  The Role of Resilience and Emergency Planning Coordinator was advertised and a successful applicant is due to commence employment during the summer.  Should any further pandemic scenarios arise the Council will work closely with the team at the Integrated Care Board.


The Committee were informed that during out of hours periods, Strategic and Service Directors cover any incidents on a rotational basis along with a Duty Officer.  All roles within the Emergency Response Team are on a voluntary basis and are provided by Council employees below the grade of service director.  Team numbers are constantly monitored to ensure that a large team remains in place and to make sure effective arrangements can be activated.


The learning gained from the response to Storm Arwen in late 2021 highlighted the need for more robust and proactive response mechanisms to be in place for future incidents.  As a result an escalation protocol has been drafted for use by the Emergency Response Team.


Role based refresher training was offered to all existing members of the Emergency Response Team and provided to those who expressed an interest in November and December 2022.  Further training has been provided to new members of the Incident Director Team in May 2023 and to other new members of the Team throughout the year.


The following multi-agency exercises have taken place over the past 12 months.


·         Exercise London Bridge – 24 May 2022

·         National Exercise Flood-Ex – 15th and 16th November 2022

·         Exercise Mighty Oak – 28-30 March 2023


The following incidents have been responded to by the team since the last report in June 2022.


·         1 – 20 July 2022 – Extreme Heat

·         8-19 September 2022 – Operation London Bridge


There have been recent reports of Avian Influenza outbreaks nationally, but fortunately Gateshead has not had any cases reported since February 2022.


Northumbria Local Resilience Forum (LRF) of which Gateshead Council is a member is the mechanism used to enable multi-agency planning arrangements to be documented, tested and exercised.  In 2022 a restructure of the LRF resulted in the recruitment of an LRF Manager and supporting team of officers and administrators which replaced the previous structure of one administrator and a support officer.


These additional resources have benefitted all multi-agency organisations in the LRF’s membership providing a much more structured and pro-active approach to potential threats to business continuity and the public.


The ‘Protect Duty’ has been in development by the Home Office over recent years, in response to the evolvement of terrorist threats in public spaces all over the world.


The aim of the Protect Duty is to ensure that people entering or using publicly accessible spaces, are better protected from malicious attached via proactive security mitigations to prevent an incident occurring.  The Protect Duty has now been renamed Martyn’s Law in member of Martyn Hett, one of the victims of the Manchester Arena attack in 2017.


Government published “The UK Government Resilience Framework” in December 2022.  This is the Government’s new strategic approach to resilience and is based on 3 core principles:


·         A developed and shared understanding of the civil contingencies risks we face is fundamental

·         Prevention rather than cure wherever possible with a greater emphasis on preparation and prevention

·         Resilience is a ‘whole society’ endeavour, so we must be more transparent and empower everyone to make a contribution.


The impact of Storm Arwen in 2021 highlighted the shortfalls of some areas of response which has led to the strengthening of single and multi-agency arrangements.


The Council has generic adaptable plans in place to provide a response for a multitude of scenarios, which means that we don’t need a plan in place for every potential incident.


It was suggested that those who are registered as having poultry be written to as a matter of course to advise that there is likely to be an Avian flu lockdown to be prepared.


It was also suggested that we consider having evacuation plans in place for forest fires as we have some quite large areas of forest/woodland which are situated near to large suburban housing areas.


RESOLVED    -           (i)         That the comments of the Committee be noted.

                                    (ii)         That it be noted that the Committee are satisfied with the work undertaken by the Emergency Planning and Resilience Team

                                    (iii)        That a progress report be brought to the Committee in a further 6 months.

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