Supplementary memorandum submitted from
the Local Government Association (14 May 2002)
The Association presented oral evidence to the
Committee on 10 April 2002. Subsequent to this, the Committee
requested information on several matters. In response to that
request, the LGA and its advisors have prepared this supplementary
memorandum of evidence.
The Local Government Association (LGA) believes
that central government should share information with all appropriate
agencies including local authorities. Local authorities cannot
prepare local plans and procedures in partnership with other agencies
if they do not receive the same information.
Local authorities are increasingly often responsible
for co-ordinating multi agency planning with other services, including
police, fire, ambulance, health, military, etc. However, because
of this, and partner agencies limited resources, it is necessary
to prioritise plan preparation, training and exercises. If central
government has information on possible targets/risks, local authorities
will need access to this to enable them to amend work programmes/priorities.
Local authorities do not have officers or members
with security clearance. However, local authorities have considerable
experience of dealing with sensitive information and maintaining
Sensitive information should be provided to
chief executives and leaders of councils who will share this with
emergency planning officers and any other appropriate officers.
The whole essence of emergency planning is to
work in partnership with all appropriate agencies. It would be
alien to this tried and tested principle, if sensitive information
was not shared and planning and preparation for incidents such
as 11 September took place in isolation. This would lead to an
ineffective and inefficient response and prove that lessons learnt
from previous major incidents (and included in government public
inquiry reports) had not improved emergency arrangements.
The ECN is intended to link the local authorities,
emergency services and Cabinet Office. However, in some areas
such as London, the emergency services are not linked into the
system. Although the circuits for the ECN are routed differently
to BT/Mercury circuits they are still routed via exchanges. Therefore,
if there is a major incident affecting an exchange, such as the
Scarborough fire, the ECN will also fail.
Many local authorities have reported that the
ECN has proved unreliable when needed during emergency responses.
A number of local authorities also asked the Home Office, previously
responsible for emergency planning, to dismantle the Network and
release the funding to enhance emergency planning by redistributing
this to local authorities.
Many local authorities have ceased the majority
of their private mobile radio schemes and now use mobile phones
instead. Any radio schemes still in existence are not compatible
with emergency services radios. The LGA believes that radio communications
are important during the response to emergencies for all incident
commanders. Therefore, compatible radio communications equipment
should be available.
The LGA is very disappointed with the outcome
of the Civil Defence Grant distribution for this financial year.
The process was late: draft proposals were not circulated to the
LGA until 25 February and a meeting with the Minister was only
held on 19 March. The final announcement was made on 26 March.
Bearing in mind that the determination of authorities' budgets
and setting of council tax needs to occur well before this date,
this is scarcely a satisfactory state of affairs.
In the event, 83 authorities lost up to 10 per
cent of their grant (although 94 saw increases of up to 20 per
cent and another two could not be directed compared due to changes
THE LGA DOES
Local authorities facing reductions in grant
have indicated that the emergency planning service in their area
will be reduced, eg vacant posts, less training, plans taking
longer to complete. There was also no increase in funding to take
account of pay and price increases. This also has an affect on
The LGA believes that funding for emergency
planning should have stability and predictability. The consultations
on the amount of funding and its distribution should take place
before the end of September each year. This would allow local
authorities to consider the grant as part of their overall budget
considerations. They will be able to make informed decisions on
their "contribution" to the emergency planning budget.
The LGA has submitted a bid for additional resources
as part of the Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR) 2002. A copy
of the bid is attached for information.
The LGA has been disappointed that no account
was taken of the additional workloads for local authorities arising
out of 11 September in this year's financial settlement. The LGA
has estimated that this amounts to £12.32 million revenue
and £5.72 million capital (included in overall CSR bid).
The LGA has submitted detailed evidence on the
Review and future legislation. The Review was first announced
on 31 October 2000 and consultation on the Review was completed
in October 2001. Taking into account the overwhelming support
for new legislation the LGA would like to see a new Bill for emergency
planning included in the next Queen's speech.