Memorandum from Rochford District Council
Rochford District Council welcomes the Draft
Civil Contingencies Bill, and the opportunity to contribute to
the consultation process.
In providing a response document, attached,
there are four particular areas that give pause for thought; the
placing of Shire Districts in Category 1, the linked topic of
Regulations, Regional influence and the provision of financial
The formal recognition of Shire Districts as
service providers in the response phase of a major incident is
long overdue. However, the picture provided by the Bill, and its
supporting papers, is less than clear. The proposed relationship
with County Councils has some context, but no shape or texture.
The quality of the Regulations proposed will be vital.
It is unfortunate that the much mentioned Regulations
have no substance with this consultation process. Without that
substance, it is impossible to make any assessment of future management
of emergency planning. Government places District Councils in
the invidious position of supine response to whatever eventually
emerges. By default, it would seem that Districts are to be Category
2 authorities, notwithstanding the placing within Category 1.
District and County Councils act using statutory
powers that enable them to carry out a number of functions. Both
operate within a democratic process. The Regional Office would
appear to be outwith that arena.
Resilience at the Regional level is an emerging
science. However, the value of its applications remains to be
True resilience can only be built on a properly
Emergency Planning is already under-funded.
Yet, with new statutory obligations, even "co-operation"
is likely to demand greater levels of resource. Whether human
or financial in nature, unless funding increases, the resilience
earnestly sought by Government will not pertain. Double taxation
for emergency planning funding, is neither appropriate or just.
Emergency Planning and Health and Safety Manager
1 August 2003
Rochford District Council welcomes the draft
Civil Contingencies Bill and the opportunity to comment on the
Cabinet Office Consultation Document. It is committed to achieving
a consistent standard of emergency planning throughout the United
Kingdom at national, regional and local level, and meeting the
requirements of the resilience agenda. As one of 12 District Councils
and two Unitaries in Essex, this Council is used to working within
a structure that has many of the features proposed in the Bill.
Accordingly, it is an easy step to accommodate much of what is
The District Council accepts both the definition
of an emergency and the need to revise the Emergency Powers in
the UK to reflect a changing world and national situation. In
welcoming the recognition of District Councils in Category 1,
the District Council seeks better definition of the responsibilities
within each category. Rochford District Council cannot support
the view that no additional resources are required to meet the
wider scope and potentially higher standards envisaged by the
Bill. In recognising the functions of the regional tier, there
are concerns over democratic accountability at that level particularly
in Stages 1 and 2.
For Essex at large, and Districts with the potential
to be involved with London issues, the proximity to London gives
rise to the need for special and additional resource requirements.
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?
Yes. However, Part 1 Meaning of "emergency"
1 (1) a-d ". . in/of a place . . " needs to be clearly
defined in terms of place ie in this 3 miles offshore or in UK
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?
There is a clear anomaly in that the Bill separates
out first and second tier authorities but with both as Category
1 responders, yet supporting papers refer to Counties carrying
on much as they do now. It is evident that Regulations must follow
to ensure that response, planning and mitigation flow smoothly.
It is difficult to provide a comprehensive comment in the absence
of those Regulations. Rochford District Council would therefore
wish to reserve judgement until such documents are available for
comment. However, it is with some misgivings that we have had
to deal with the consultation process without seeing what those
Regulations may say. It would have been useful if Government had
expanded on its perceived options earlier. Rochford believes that
a clear definition of the roles and responsibility of each level
of local authority must be made in Regulations, with mutual agreement,
not prescription. Regulations developed on this basis will take
account of the relative statutory powers and diversity of Councils.
The Bill, as drawn, and with the prospect of Regulations that
deny Category 1 response, effectively makes Districts Category
In terms of a response, the District clearly
co-ordinates the immediate response, and will deal with medium
and long term responses that naturally fall to it, while the County
Council mobilises the wider area and more strategic long-term
responses and recovery, if necessary and where appropriate. There
are Emergency Planning resource implications already to Districts,
not currently acknowledged by Government.
With reference to Part 1, 2(3)(e) greater flexibility
could be afforded to the County Resilience Forum if this were
to be worded ". . . on behalf of or in lieu of . . .".
There are some potential issues here ".
. . or in lieu of . . ." could involve a County negotiating
with a District for the application of resources in connection
with statutory functions of Districts that Counties require in
order to fulfil its perceived obligations of the Emergency Plan.
(This could apply under the existing wording, in any event). Expense
For Business Continuity Management a methodology
could see the District tier identifying those businesses for whom
continuity planning was vital to delivery of the local response,
with the duty falling to the relevant "lead" authority
to provide this service. There will be a need to finance these
new obligations either through raising of taxes or general financing
of Emergency Planning.
It will not be possible to definitively comment
on the financial efficiency until greater definition is provided
in the Regulations. However, it should be noted there is already
a contribution to Essex County Council Emergency Planning from
the taxpayer, raised through Council Tax. It would be inappropriate
to raise taxes again in order to pay for additional Emergency
Planning needs at the District Council level.
Q3. Do you agree that the membership of categories
1 and 2 is right? If not, which organisations should be added,
moved or removed?
Broadly, yes. There is a need for great clarity
over how Health is to be represented in Category 1 and 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.
Yes. The Bill appears to provide the capacity
for the correct balance. Evidence of this balance will only be
apparent when there is detail available of the Regulations to
follow. Consistency must relate to outcomes in terms of standards
whilst maintaining flexibility to the framework and methods of
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. Rochford District Council believes that
this framework accurately reflects proven best practice, already
evident in Essex.
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?
Categorically not. The partial Regulatory Impact
Assessment does not take proper account of the wider scope of
risk assessment, business continuity and scale covered by the
new definition of emergency in the Bill. Resource requirements
must be based on a proper and evidenced assessment taking into
account standards, geographical proximity to identified risk eg
London and extendibility criteria for nuclear installations.
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?
Yes, to facilitate wide ownership of fully integrated
planning and joint response.
A decision to fund through Revenue Support Grant
should ensure that District and County Councils have sufficient
resources to conduct properly costed planning and response and
should be done in such a way to ensure flexibility in delivery
but ownership of outcomes. Transitional arrangements will be necessary
in line with plans for incremental introduction of the legislation
to ensure continuity of existing service.
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 it is not enough in terms of the current
local authority share of grant and recent budget provision for
truly building resilience. Districts find themselves dealing with
an ever-broadening remit. There is no recognition of the additional
burden that falls on local authorities in comparison with health
and emergency services. Evidence of this might be seen in the
true cost of preparing local resilience plans that see Districts
playing a part in, say, a response to London resilience, and in
identifying accommodation, transport and welfare for large numbers
of displaced persons from outside county boundaries.
Business Continuity is not currently a responsibility,
and therefore not resourced, for any of the Category 1 authorities
in relation to the public or business sector.
Q9. Do you agree that performance should
be audited through existing mechanisms? If not, what mechanism
would you like to see established?
It is acceptable that the Audit Commission carries
out this function, if it is based on adequate understanding drawn
on the experience of local specialists in undertaking their work.
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?
The role is agreed to. However, there are considerable
concerns over both the process for identifying and selecting the
holders of the posts in specific situations. The lack of a democratically
elected regional tier of government in the English Regions would
make it very difficult at stages 1 and 2 to agree the powers of
this post in relation to the democratically elected tiers below.
Q11. Do you agree with the principle of applying
special legislative measures on a regional basis? Please explain
Yes, subject to the establishment of mechanisms
for powers to cover incident zones that span regional boundaries.
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.
Yes, reflecting the nature of the internal and
Q13. Do you agree that the circumstances
in which special legislative measures may be taken should be widened
from limited 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, reflecting the new definition of an emergency
in the Bill.
Q14. Do you agree that the use of special
legislative measures should be possible on a sub-UK basis? If
not, please explain.
See Question 11.
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?
Yes. It should always remain with The Queen.
Q16. Do you agree that in the event 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 advice from Ministers? If not, is delay acceptable
or is there another alternative mechanism?
A situation in which it would not be possible
for The Queen or her nominated deputy to be contacted within the
required time scale appears unlikely. The alternative appears
to raise a major constitutional change and this Bill is not the
appropriate place for that discussion.
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.
Yes, in line with other legislation covering
such things as disease control.
Q18. Do you agree that the arrangements proposed
for Scotland strike the right balance between reflecting the devolution
settlement and ensuring consistency across the UK? If not, what
changes are necessary?
Q19. Do you agree that the arrangements proposed
for Wales strike the right balance between reflecting the devolution
settlement and ensuring consistency across the UK? If not, what
changes are necessary?
Q20. Do you agree that the arrangements proposed
for Northern Ireland strike the right balance between reflecting
the devolution settlement and ensuring consistency across the
UK? If not, what changes are necessary?
Q21. Do you agree that the role and accountability
of the Emergency Co-ordinator in a devolved country should be
flexible to reflect different types of emergency? If not, what
alternative role should the Emergency Co-ordinator have?
Q22. Do you agree that the devolved administrations
should be able to declare that special legislative measures are
necessary, and take action accordingly? If not, please explain
Q23. Do you agree that London should have
different arrangements for co-operation, and that the proposals
set out are the right way to deliver this? If not, what arrangements
should be put in place?
London, as the capital city, requires special
arrangements for co-operation. However, those proposals should
not be London-centric as to ignore the consequences to the Home
Counties, etc, and the Districts within. Proposals will need to
be amended to dovetail with immediate neighbouring authorities.
This should provide a basis for justifying the appropriate level
of resourcing to support London resilience. Such resourcing must
cover information sharing, training and exercises as well as the
more obvious ones of capacity building.