The Civil Contingencies Team within Slough Borough Council is responsible for ensuring the council complies with the Civil Contingencies Act 2004. As a result, working with all the council services and other emergency responders, the team identifies potential risks within the council area, then prepares the council in its ability to respond to emergencies by liaising across the different services and preparing plans. We check with other agencies, such as the emergency services, and our neighbouring councils to make sure that all of our plans fit well together. These plans are then exercised to ensure they are practical and reflect what is likely to happen if an emergency occurs.
This type of planning is no different to a household ensuring they have an escape route in the event of a fire, or having a plan for flooding. They are just on a much larger scale involving many different agencies.
In addition to writing response plans, the team also organises training, emergency exercises and seminar events to ensure that council staff and partner agencies are up to date with current emergency plans and ready to respond.
We also have a statutory responsibility to plan for incidents at "risk" sites in the area that fall under specific legislation such as Control of Major Accident Hazards (COMAH) or the Radiation (Emergency Preparedness and Public Information) Regulations (REPPIR). These regulations mean we not only have to plan for these sites, but are legally required to regularly exercise those plans.
The council knows that we cannot respond to any emergency on our own so we form strong partnerships with other emergency responders, local councils, the Environment Agency and utility companies. By working together, planning together and exercising together we form a strong alliance. Being aware of how another agency works, and the responsibilities they have are key to working together and being able to respond effectively in a major incident.
After an incident, the council will normally be the lead agency in the recovery process. The amount of time that it will take to recover from a major incident will be proportional to the scale of any damage to the community. Incidents such as flooding which can cause widespread devastation for the community, could take many months to recover. The council’s recovery plan covers such scenarios.
The council is also responsible for ensuring that its own critical services can continue to operate during an emergency. The council also encourages local businesses to have business continuity plans.