Report by the Director of Communities, Economy and Transport.
14.1 The Assistant Director Communities introduced the report. He outlined that emergency planning services in East Sussex are provided through the East Sussex Resilience and Emergency Planning Partnership (ESREP) which is a partnership of local authorities comprised of ESCC, East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service (ESFRS) and four out of the five District and Borough councils in East Sussex. The overarching aim of the Emergency Planning Team, which is based in East Sussex, is to support all the partners in meeting the requirements of the Civil Contingencies Act 2004. All partners contribute to a central budget which funds the staff, activities and training provided by the Team.
14.2 The Team works closely with the multi-agency partners within the Sussex Resilience Forum (SRF) which provides pan Sussex emergency planning. Throughout the pandemic the Team has worked with colleagues within ESCC departments, the SRF and local and national partners via a number of working groups established by the SRF to work on the Covid-19 pandemic. This work ran alongside the normal work of the Team to deal with other emergencies and undertake planning around EU exit. Some of the Covid-19 work is still ongoing through the various working groups that were established. Lessons learnt exercises will be undertaken as part of the ongoing work.
14.3 Looking forward, the Team is looking to revise its approach to emergency planning ‘business as usual’ activities through work with SRF partners and ESREP. Planned work will include:
14.4 At the beginning of the pandemic, ESCC was required to implement business continuity arrangements at speed. Most plans were able to flex to meet the organisation’s requirements and most notably, the rapid move to working from home using agile technology. This enabled the Council to continue to provide services to residents whilst at the same time deal with the extra requirements of the pandemic. The corporate business continuity group will be reviewing business continuity measures and plans with all departments and ESREP partners, including any lessons learnt from the pandemic.
14.5 The Committee asked how the experience of volunteers who assisted with the work on the pandemic will be captured so that any learning and feedback can be incorporated into future plans. The Assistant Director Communities responded that volunteers played a crucial role in supporting the response to the pandemic, and their experience as well as that of officers will be included in the lessons learnt exercise. In particular, the use and training of volunteers in response to a longer term incident or issue will be included in the review.
14.6 The Committee noted that the report also mentions climate change adaptation and resilience measures. The Committee asked how this will be embedded in future business continuity planning. The Assistant Director Communities commented that climate adaption will be an area of focus of the work being undertaken by ESCC and ESREP when reviewing business continuity plans and will ensure it is embedded in all appropriate plans. It was confirmed that the updated plans can be shared with the Committee once the review is completed.
14.7 The Committee RESOLVED to:
1) note the actions taken during the Covid-19 Pandemic, and
2) note that lessons capture planning is in progress and the intended changes to future planning.