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Waverley Borough Council Committee System - Committee Document

Meeting of the Executive held on 07/12/2004
The Capability of the Council to Provide Emergency Services Out of Normal Office Hours



Summary & Purpose
This report provides information on progress in relation to the emergency out-of-hours activities of the Council, including civil emergency planning, and seeks approval to specific proposals to improve the Council’s ability to respond out-of-hours. These are as directed by the Executive at its meeting on 15th June 2004 following consideration of the issues by the Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee on 1st June and 15th November 2004.

Quality of Life Implications
Natural Resource Use
Pollution Prevention and Control
Biodiversity and Nature
Local Environment
Social Inclusion
Safe Communities
Local Economy
Natural
Resource Use
Pollution
Prevention and Control
Biodiversity
and Nature
Local
Environment
Social
Inclusion
Safe, Healthy
and Active
Communities
Local
Economy
N/A
Positive
Positive
Positive
N/A
Positive
Positive


APPENDIX N
WAVERLEY BOROUGH COUNCIL

EXECUTIVE – 7TH DECEMBER 2004

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Title:
THE CAPABILITY OF THE COUNCIL TO PROVIDE EMERGENCY SERVICES OUT OF NORMAL OFFICE HOURS

[Wards Affected: N/A]
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Note pursuant to Section 100B(5) of the Local Government Act 1972

An annexe to this report contains exempt information by virtue of which the public is likely to be excluded during the item to which the report relates, as specified in paragraph 14 of Part I of Schedule 12A to the Local Government Act 1972, namely:-

Any action taken or to be taken in connection with the prevention, investigation or prosecution of crime.

Summary and purpose:

This report provides information on progress in relation to the emergency out-of-hours activities of the Council, including civil emergency planning, and seeks approval to specific proposals to improve the Council’s ability to respond out-of-hours. These are as directed by the Executive at its meeting on 15th June 2004 following consideration of the issues by the Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee on 1st June and 15th November 2004.

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Quality of life implications – social, environmental & economic (sustainable development):

There are no specific quality of life implications although the broad subject matter of the report relates to a local authorities role in the return to normality after a major civil emergency.

E-Government implications:

There are no specific e-government implications arising directly out of the report, although the Council’s automated out-of-hours response contact number and the publication of the Council’s Civil Emergency Scheme on the Council’s website are examples of the use of technology in delivering these services. Also relevant are the partnership arrangements, in particular with the County Council, and the links between the Council’s website and SurreyAlert, the information website for the local community on current incidents.

Resource and legal implications:

There are two headline resource considerations. Firstly, whether the staff employed by the Council have the capacity to perform out-of-hours functions. Secondly, what remuneration is necessary to encourage staff to take on non-contractual activities in order to turn them into contractual activities?

The specific proposals in this report seek approval to additional expenditure, from the year 2005/06, of 20,180. Any additional costs arising in 2004/05 would, so far as is possible, be accommodated within the existing staffing budget.

(Exempt) Annexe 2 to the report sets out the current position on 2005/06 funding for the consequences of responsibilities arising out of the enactment of the Civil Contingencies Bill. This may offset the costs identified in the previous paragraph.

There are legal implications insofar as the Council has certain statutory functions to perform. These are as set out in the report on the meeting of the Executive on 15th June 2004.

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Progress

Fundamental Service Review

1. The report of 15th June 2004 did not remind members that emergency planning activity had been the subject of a Fundamental Service Review in 2001/02. The action plan from that Review continues to be worked through and the updated action plan is attached, for information, as Annexe 1 to this report.

Civil Contingencies Bill (CCB)

2. The previous report gave Members of the Executive information on probable new statutory responsibilities for, amongst others, district Councils.

3. District Councils will be Category 1 responders with defined statutory responsibilities on the lines indicated in the previous report. It is expected that the Bill will achieve Royal Assent by the end of November. After that there will be a public consultation period on the new regulations and the content of the guidance.

4. The Cabinet Office has made a public commitment that the duties under the Bill will only come into force once the consultation is completed, changes have been agreed and full supporting guidance is available. Whilst the Parliamentary timetable will determine the precise timing, the Cabinet Office has now confirmed that Part 1 duties will commence on 1st April 2005.

5. That date is not so far away and it would seem prudential to begin to prepare for the commencement of the duties. However, we continue to receive advice to the effect that we should be careful not to pre-empt or pre-judge the duties. The work on the regulations and guidance currently underway will shape how the duties in the Bill will apply in practice, and recasting local arrangements would be inappropriate until there is greater certainty. A more detailed assessment and implementation strategy when the regulations and guidance are issued in draft would be the way forward.

6. Officers will report further on this at the appropriate time but members of the Executive are reminded that additional responsibilities, as indicated in the Bill, are likely to need additional resources. The Local Government Association has produced, on 29th September 2004, a briefing paper headed ‘Civil Contingencies Funding 2005/06’. A copy of that briefing paper is attached as (Exempt) Annexe 2. The section at the end of that paper headed ‘Implications’ will be taken by your officers as a guide for future actions.

Recommendations from the Executive Meeting

7. The Executive meeting on 15th June 2004 acknowledged that the Council’s existing out-of-hours arrangements were not sufficiently robust to ensure an appropriate response in certain cases in which the Council had a statutory duty to respond. It is the view of your officers that the following budget allocation is necessary to enable specific contractual arrangements to be made with appropriate staff in the following circumstances: -

(i) Guaranteed top management (Chief Executive, departmental director or head of service) response to a major civil emergency arising out-of-normal office hours (ii) Guaranteed response to advise on dangerous structures out of normal office hours (a Building Control Function) Other Actions

8. Business continuity is identified in the Civil Contingencies Bill as a responsibility for local authorities. Regardless, to protect its own interests, Waverley needs to develop a 'Business Continuity' plan to ensure that services can still be delivered in the event that an emergency results in loss of IT systems, office buildings, key staff etc.

9. Some relevant work was done on business continuity as part of the preparation for possible problems with IT systems arising out of the millennium date change. An officer group, the Continuity Planning Group, has been set up to move that work forward into a Continuity Business Plan for Waverley. The output of the group will, at the earliest opportunity, be reported to the Council for approval. In the meantime, members may like to be aware that this is happening. The Terms of Reference for the Group are attached as Annexe 3.

10. As part of the response to CPA and the Housing Options Appraisal and specifically to support the achievement of a ‘two star’ rating for the Council’s Housing management services, approval is being sought to the establishment of a rota system that seeks to guarantee senior officer availability to take decisions out-of-normal office hours in respect of maintenance and housing incidents. The proposals in paragraph 7 above are consistent with these proposals. The matter will be considered, initially, by the Community Overview and Scrutiny Committee at its meeting on 9th November 2004.

11. The Council’s statutory requirement to establish a rest centre to accommodate displaced persons in a civil emergency has been tested in an exercise held in Cranleigh on 22nd September 2004

12. The Chief Executive and the Head of Personnel and Central Services also participated in an emergency planning exercise held at Surrey Police headquarters at Mount Brown on 23rd October 2004 to help test the Gold Command (strategic) function for Surrey in a major civil emergency.

Outstanding Matters

Other, non-statutory, out-of-hours responses

13. Attention was drawn, in the previous report, to the ad hoc and inconsistent nature of arrangements to remunerate other staff who may be called out of normal office hours. These have evolved over the years. Further work will be done on this, if necessary, at an appropriate point in the future.

Security at evening meetings of the Council

14. This was raised as a confidential item in the previous report. The Executive is asked to give consideration as to whether more specific arrangements are necessary to further ensure the security of the Council’s (evening) meetings. The Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee, at its meeting on 15th November, wished to encourage the Executive that a risk assessment should be undertaken in relation to security at evening meetings.

Recommendation

It is recommended that

1. the proposals set out in this report to ensure guaranteed out-of-hours responses to the statutory functions of (a) responding to major civil emergencies and (b) advising on dangerous structures, be endorsed;

2. the current developments, including progress on funding related to the Civil Contingencies Bill, be noted; and

3. officers be requested to undertake a risk assessment on the security at formal evening meetings of the Council and report back in due course.

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Background Papers (CEx)

There are no background papers (as defined by Section 100D(5) of the Local Government Act 1972) relating to this report.

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CONTACT OFFICER:

Name: Richard Wood Telephone: 01483 523387

E-mail: rwood@waverley.gov.uk

Comms/exec/2004-05/312