Agenda item

Emergency Preparedness Update

The report briefly outlines the progress made since the last update to the Committee provided in July 2018. It details the type and number of incidents in Brent and provides some information around initiatives and programmes of work under way to enhance our resilience and response arrangements.

Minutes:

Carolyn Downs (the Council’s Chief Executive) introduced the report which briefly outlined the progress made since the previous update to the Committee in July 2018. Ms Downs noted that the paper had been presented sooner than July 2019 in order to bring it in line with the London-wide assurance and challenge process that had been instigated. Brent had submitted a self-assessment (available at Appendix A (pages 17-23 of the Agenda pack)) which had been moderated at a sub-regional level. Members heard that common themes where improvement was desirable across all Local Authorities had been identified and a local action plan to address these would be created with relevant guidance and support from London Resilience. These included – humanitarian response; community engagement and management; media and communications management; and governance.

 

Ms Downs said that a specific area of work in the last couple of months had been Brexit and the prospect of leaving the European Union (EU) without a deal. Local Authorities across London had been in the process of developing a risk assessment for such a scenario. Some of the areas of greatest concern had been related to caring for vulnerable residents and waste management and disposal. It was noted that any additional risks associated with Brexit would be included in the Council’s Risk Register.

 

The Committee welcomed the report and enquired about the amount of time and resources officers had spent working on Brexit-related issues; the possibility of reimbursing extra costs from Her Majesty's Government; local initiatives to ensure continuality of support for care and medical packages; and keeping Members informed about new developments. Ms Downs responded that the time spent on Brexit had not been excessive, e.g. the Council had been able to cope using its existing resources. Nevertheless, the Government had written to all Local Authorities to notify them of additional funding allocated to them and Brent’s share was £210,000. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government had asked councils to provide advice to EU residents about the settlement scheme that had been established and Brent had already held a ‘Time to Talk’ event dedicated to Brexit. Peter Gadsdon (the Council’s Director of Performance, Policy and Partnerships) said that another ‘Time to Talk’, focused on the consequences of the United Kingdom leaving the EU, had been planned to take place in early April 2019. It was noted that a dedicated seminar for Elected Members would be organised once more information about Brexit became available. As far as care and medical packages were concerned, Mr Gadsdon said that he would start convening weekly meetings with officers from the Children and Young People Department and the Community and Wellbeing Department as well as external partners to discuss specific implications for the health and social care sector.

 

Daryl Jooste (the Council’s Civil Contingencies Manager) acknowledged that community engagement and management had been identified as an area for improvement in the recent self-assessment undertaken by Brent Council. Ms Downs reminded members that during last year’s cold weather emergency shelters had been operated at a community organisation and at a church in the Borough. As some of the lessons learned had identified issues related to staff safeguarding, it had been decided to commission additional beds with St. Mungo’s on future occasions. Mr Jooste added that he had engaged two resident associations which had been offered a basic emergency preparedness training package. Once feedback had become available, the offer would be expanded by delivering awareness sessions in the community.

 

Mr Jooste informed the Committee that he had been drafting a Donations Management Protocol, which would prescribe how people could offer their skills, time and labour to support incident response, along financial aid being set out as a preferred method of donation as allowed greater flexibility.

 

Michael Bradley (the Council’s Head of Audit and Investigations) pointed out that an audit on Emergency Planning had started and preliminary results would be available in the following couple of weeks.

 

RESOLVED that:

(i)            The contents of the Emergency Preparedness Update report, be noted;

 

(ii)          The Council’s Risk Register be updated to include any Emergency Planning risks associated with Brexit;

 

(iii)         A dedicated seminar on Brexit for Elected Members be organised; and

 

(iv)         The Committee’s appreciation for the work of officers be formally recorded;

 

Supporting documents: