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Paper 6 -  26 March 2004 Meeting

ASSOCIATION OF HAMPSHIRE AND ISLE OF WIGHT LOCAL AUTHORITIES

26 March 2004

CIVIL CONTINGENCIES BILL

Report by the County Emergency Planning Officer

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RECOMMENDATION

Members are asked to note the report

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1. Currently progressing through Parliament is the Civil Contingencies Bill. This will replace the 1948 Civil Defence Act (and other primary legislation), and lays out a new framework for Emergency Planning. The Bill had its second reading on 19th January, and concluded its committee stage on 10th February. It is anticipated that the Bill should gain Royal Assent either in June or October 2004.

2. The Bill is a further piece of "enabling legislation" and will allow for regulations and guidance to be issued subsequent to its publication. The actual detail of the requirements of the Bill will be issued through the further regulations and guidance. However the Bill as it stands has implications for local authorities which this report aims to summarise.

3. Also worthy of note is the fact that from April 2005 Emergency Planning will feature in the Comprehensive Performance Assessment for all local authorities.

ISSUES AND IMPLICATIONS OF THE BILL

4. The new or enhanced work areas or duties which Hampshire local authorities will have to undertake in response to the Bill include:

Formal Risk Assessment for emergencies

Develop a "Community Risk Register"

Business Continuity Planning

Promotion to Hampshire's Businesses of the concept of Business Continuity Planning

Warning and Informing the public

Coastal Oil Pollution response

Liaison with the new regional emergency planning tier

Undertaking work generated by the Regional Resilience Forum

Liaison with a plethora of agencies identified by the Government as Category 2 Responders

Additional training and exercises

Additional Plans

Comply with the new duty to prevent emergencies

Plan for environmental threats

Improve the resilience and robustness of all existing plans

Respond to the Governments Capabilities Work streams which include 10 work stream programmes specifically for local government.

5. The current statutory framework (1948 Civil Defence Act) for emergency planning only applies to County and Unitary Authorities, the new Bill places these duties equally on county, unitary and district authorities. Recognising however that there are economies of scale and other benefits to be gained by joint working the Bill allows for district and unitary authorities, if they so wish, to contract the county authority to provide the function for them.

6. Hampshire County Council currently provides the emergency planning function to all of the district authorities, (the unitaries currently make their own provision) and it is the firm wish of the County that the current working arrangements continue. The County Emergency Planning Team has developed and delivers what is generally accepted to be an excellent level of service to the district authorities. This has been proven when we have been unfortunate enough to suffer emergency situations and the response, generally a joint County and District response, has been excellent.

RESOURCES

7. Currently Hampshire County Council receives 300,000 per annum through direct grant (Civil Defence Grant) to part fund its emergency planning function (Southampton receives 77,470 and Portsmouth 74,476). Once the Bill comes into force (following any transitionary arrangements) direct grant will no longer be paid.

8. Following the publication of the Bill a review of the resource implications for the County Team will be undertaken to ensure it will be able to comply with the statutory requirements of the Bill. In the meantime the County Emergency Planning Officer will be meeting with each Chief Executive individually to discuss future working arrangements/provision of service. Clearly because of the significant change in the funding arrangements it is likely that a charging regime for provision of service will need to be considered. However the Government has still not finished deliberations on this issue and representative bodies, including the LGA are still lobbying for funding issues to be re-examined.

IAN HOULT
County Emergency Planning Officer

Date: 12 March 2004
Annex: 0
Contact: Ian Hoult tel: 01962 846840 email: ian.hoult@hants.gov.uk

Last update: 16/03/2004
Author: Nick Goulder, Director

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