Disasters or major emergencies can strike suddenly, unexpectedly and anywhere. We will therefore plan and prepare on behalf of the Local Authorities to ensure that our response is effective, efficient and protects the public from the effects of emergencies
& Legal Framework
Cleveland Emergency Planning Unit (CEPU) was formed upon reorganisation of local government in 1996 as a central unit to discharge civil defence and emergency preparedness on behalf of the four newly formed unitary authorities of Hartlepool Borough Council, Middlesbrough Council, Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council and Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council.
It is financed through a joint arrangement with Hartlepool Borough Council being the ‘lead’ authority. The performance and effectiveness of the CEPU is overseen by a small Joint Executive Committee made up of either the Mayor or an Executive Councillor from each local authority. The Chief Emergency Planning Officer also reports to the Tees Valley Chief Executive’s Group.
The emphasis of the role undertaken by the CEPU has been changed by the Civil Contingencies Act 2004 and one of its primary functions is now to undertake work with and on behalf of the four local authorities to ensure they meet their statutory requirements under the Act. The Civil Contingencies Act repealed previous legislation relating to civil defence functions and now provides a single framework for emergency preparedness, civil protection and emergency powers in the United Kingdom, focusing on local arrangements and statutory roles and responsibilities of the Local Authority, as well as for other local responders. Each of the four local authorities is classed as a Category 1 responder, together with the emergency services, Environment Agency and health agencies.
Whilst the emergency planning and civil protection duties are detailed on the face of Part 1 of the Act, the details of what those duties mean and how they should be performed, is delivered through the accompanying Civil Contingencies Act (Contingency Planning) Regulations 2005 and guidance document “Preparing for Emergencies” issued by the Cabinet Office. Part 2 of the Act relates to emergency powers.
Consequently, through the modernisation of the legislation, the CEPU undertakes a range of duties, working towards the seven specific civil protection duties. These are:
To assist us to comply with our duty to plan for a wide range of civil protection scenarios across the ‘Cleveland’ area, the CEPU has developed numerous links with partnership agencies, particularly the emergency services, and these will stand us in good stead over the forthcoming years. Co-location of the CEPU with emergency planners from the emergency services’ assists immensely in this respect. This arrangement is unique to Cleveland and presents a professional image of emergency planning, raises the profile of the service and provides an environment conducive to integrated emergency management.
Officers of the CEPU are intrinsically linked with a wide variety of groups or sub groups, often as chair person, which drive work associated with emergency and contingency planning. The flowchart on page 9 illustrates the extent of the links and involvement that the CEPU has with regional and local partner agencies and organisations that create and provide close working and co-operation. These include:
At a north east regional level, the Chief Emergency Planning Officer is a member of the Regional Resilience Forum with the Chief Executive of Hartlepool Borough Council who represents all councils within the region. Emergency Planners from across the region are represented by the Chief Emergency Planning Officer and the Senior Emergency Planning Officer with responsibility for Middlesbrough on the Regional Media Emergency Forum (RMEF). The Senior Emergency Planning Officer is also vice chair of the RMEF.
As an essential requirement to aid best practice and management and to ensure good integrated emergency and risk management, the Cleveland Emergency Planning Unit has a strategic risk register which is used to drive forward good management practices and ensure that an overview of the risks can be maintained by Chief Officers and Elected Members. To enable the Emergency Planning Unit to deliver an effective and efficient service on behalf of the four constituent local authorities and meet the duties and responsibilities place upon it by them, the Chief Emergency Planning Officer (CEPO) and all CEPU staff must ensure they are aware of the strategic risks that face the CEPU as an “outside body” within the terms of the Local Government Act. Further they must give due consideration to the strategic risks within their remit and sphere of work and the environs within which the CEPU operates.
The CEPU is a central unit and comprises of a team of 10 staff:
Clearly having a Joint Emergency Planning Unit serving all four local authorities is a great advantage in providing economies of scale and helping to stop duplication of effort. It greatly assists in meeting the co-operation and information sharing aspects of our work and in undertaking many of the duties under the Civil Contingencies Act.
The CEPU provides an out of hours “Duty Officer” arrangement. Operating on a 365 days/24 hour basis, it provides a single point of contact between the emergency services, other agencies, for example the Environment Agency and Food Standard Agency, and the four authorities for alerting and activating them in the event of an incident or major emergency.
The CEPU is co-located with the Emergency Planning Unit of Cleveland Police and Emergency Planning Officers from the Cleveland Fire Brigade and the North East Ambulance Service (NEAS). This arrangement greatly assists consistency of approach and intergration between services.