Memorandum from Exeter City Council
Thank you for your letter dated 19 June 2003
inviting comments on the draft Civil Contingencies Bill by 11
September 2003. I am pleased to enclose my response.
During earlier consultation I made clear that
I believed district (city) councils should be given a duty to
plan for major emergencies and receive subsequent funding. I am
pleased to see from the proposed legislation that this is now
to be partly endorsed. I believed then, that districts deserved
to be funded for their contribution and effort in planning, exercising
and training. The extent and depth of the seven specific duties
contained in the proposed legislation convinces me that if there
is no new money, the district element contained in the county
allocation should be redistributed to districts. My reasoning
is contained in the enclosed response.
Other than information, we receive little or
no support from the county council. Without any grant, Exeter
City Council has chosen to employ its own, part-time emergency
planning officer. In addition, we maintain a robust, functional
emergency planning resource, a generic plan which is updated twice
yearly and I remain confident of meeting the challenges posed
when responding to any contingency and that might befall the city
with, or without, the co-operation of the county council. I remain
convinced that we should be funded for the contribution we make.
18 July 2003
Summary of Consultation Questions
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?
1. Although under section 1(3)(a)(ii) reference
is made to contamination of land, water or air with fuel oils,
there is no specific reference to oil pollution. Nor is there
a corresponding duty for shire districts to plan for, train and
conduct shoreline clean up. Ports and harbours have a statutory
duty under these circumstances and we believe shire districts
should be properly funded to carry out these functions effectively.
2. The definition is different than that
used in the latest edition of Dealing with Disaster. A
standard definition should be used throughout civil contingency
3. Should a threat to Parliament be included
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?
2. We believe the Bill to be fundamentally
flawed in this section. Shire districts are correctly placed as
Category 1 Responders. However, we believe it is then irrational
to affirm that shire counties will take full responsibility for
local authority civil protection planning in their area. Shire
counties lack the funding, staff, resources and local knowledge
to provide an effective and acceptable service covering all seven
aspects listed in the Bill ie Risk Assessment, Planning arrangements,
Business Continuity Planning, Warning and informing, Sharing information,
Co-operation and Promotion of Business Continuity Management.
3. Without proper funding, staffing and
definitive legislation there remains a danger that some shire
districts will continue to pay lip service to their civil contingency
duties in the belief that shire counties successfully perform
these functions on their behalf.
4. Although shire counties currently receive
an element of grant aid based on the number of districts in their
area, prudent districts nevertheless employ dedicated emergency
planning officers funded from their own resources. Others combine
these duties with those of another service. In the worst case,
no emergency planning function exists. Yet, because emergencies
demand a "bottom up" response starting in the district
in which the emergency occurs, it is essential that a level of
expertise should be established and maintained at shire district
5. Counties lack the resources, staffing
and local expertise to effectively meet their proposed new responsibilities
without the support of a district emergency planning officer or
equivalent in post.
6. In addition, we believe there remains
a danger local authorities may adopt a "blame culture",
should financial or legal penalties be incurred after the recovery
Q3. Do you agree that the membership of Categories
1 and 2 is right? If not, which organisations should be added,
moved or removed?
Yes, but note our deep concerns expressed in
answering Q2. Consideration should be given to including some
voluntary organisations under Category 2.
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
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
Yes. We strongly concur with and support this
recommendation fully. The greater the information sharing, joint
working and information sharing, the better. LA Autonomy should
not be infringed. Consideration should be given to including the
Armed Forces in Local Resilience Forums.
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?
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?
No. There is far more accountability if it remains
as specific grant. If funding is within Revenue Support Grant
there is a danger that some Authorities will not use it specifically
as funding towards Emergency Planning. However, as a shire district/city
council we would accept funding from either Grant or through RSG.
Whichever option is adopted should contain a mechanism that ensures
funding is protected, used only for contingency planning and not
diverted to other services in times of financial constraint.
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.
No. There is insufficient to accommodate both
shire counties and their respective districts. As we have previously
stated, we are committed to the belief that districts should receive
funding towards the costs they already incur. If additional funding
is not forthcoming we strongly support the view that the district
element currently received by the county should be reallocated
to respective districts. This would offset the not inconsiderable
cost that some districts currently bear.
Q9. Do you agree that performance should
be audited through existing mechanisms? If not, what mechanism
would you like to see established
Without the establishment of a properly created
Emergency Management Agency, performance monitoring should continue
through existing mechanisms. However, monitoring should be both
robust and effective.
A NEW REGIONAL
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?
Yes. We strongly support this appointment. The
Regional Nominated Co-ordinator should act as the lynch pin between
Central Government, emergency services, other agencies and local
authorities and ensure a more effective distribution of information,
advice and filtering mechanism in the event of a national emergency
such as the Foot and Mouth and Fuel crises. Note our concern that
LA should not lose their autonomy.
Q11. Do you agree with the principle of applying
special legislative measure on a regional basis? Please explain
We have no specific comment.
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?
Yes. Please cross-refer to our response to Q1
with regard to pollution.
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 of 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?
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.