In 2017 there were two major incidents in and around Hammersmith & Fulham that required the authority to implement its emergency planning procedures - the fire at Grenfell Tower and an explosion on a tube train in Parsons Green.
This report reviews the Council’s response at both strategic and operational levels, identifies action taken to date to improve readiness, and makes recommendations for further improvements.
Peter Smith (Head of Policy and Strategy) introduced the draft report and noted that in 2017 there were two major incidents in and around Hammersmith & Fulham that required the authority to implement its emergency planning procedures – the fire at Grenfell Tower in June and an explosion on a tube train in Parsons Green in September. The report reviewed the Council’s response to those incidents at both strategic and operational levels and considered the views of local businesses and community organisations that participated in a ‘hackathon’ event convened by the Council to examine the views of partners.
The report identified action taken to improve the Council’s readiness and response to major incidents and made recommendations for additional action for further improvements. The Committee was invited to discuss the report’s findings and consider the draft recommendations.
The Chair thanked officers for producing the report and asked what the timescales for implementation of the recommendations would be. Peter Smith replied that some actions had already been taken and the others were going to Cabinet in March for approval.
A resident asked that the active role of TRAs be recognised regarding Grenfell and Parsons Green. Councillor Lisa Homan felt this was a valid point and noted that this had been recognised formally at Full Council following the Grenfell Tower fire. Kim Dero noted that the TRAs contributions, helping manage the donations process and reaching out to Grenfell families in hotels in the borough was greatly appreciated and recognised in the report. The Council had also organised a hackathon event in recognition of the important role that community organisations play. The Chair added that the Council’s civic awards were coming up and a number of TRAs had been nominated.
Councillor Adam Connell, referring to 9.2 of the report, asked how the additional £110,000 was being used to increase the resilience of emergency planning team. Nick Austin (Lead Director for Environmental Services) replied that the money was being spent on additional staff and training for the team.
Councillor Donald Johnson thanked officers for a very thorough report. He highlighted the need for parking enforcement to discourage vans and other vehicles parking illegally and blocking the emergency services. He felt there should be more proactive management with the Council contacting businesses and communicating the risks.
Councillor Johnson also asked if any crisis communications specialists had been in touch with the Council. Kim Dero said the Council had commissioned specialists to work with key officers and councillors to help the organisation build resilience.
Councillor Adam Connell, noted the recent news story about an emergency missile alert in Hawaii, and asked if it was possible for the local authority to use automated text alerts in the borough. Kim Dero said that at the Hackathon, residents said social media (and apps like WhatsApp) were the best route to get information out to the community. The website would also be used to build resilience and community planning.
Councillor Harry Phibbs asked about the Grenfell survivors still in hotels in the borough (5.4 of the report). Gerry Crowley (Property and Place Manager) assured the committee that the Council’s outreach team were supporting the 27 families currently placed in the borough by the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBKC). He noted that most of those families were under offer for permanent accommodation from RBKC.
The Chair, Councillor Alan De’Ath, noted that when Parsons Green was evacuated and the roads were blocked off, he was allowed through the barrier unchallenged at around 11am in the morning. Kim Dero said she would feed that back to the Borough Commander.
Councillor Adam Connell welcomed the additional emergency planning training for staff mentioned in the report and asked if there would be large scale exercises to test the organisation’s readiness. Nick Austin said the Council should be carrying out tests regularly. There would be service exercises taking place shortly and there was a London-wide exercise planned for March. H&F were also planning exercises involving the community, building on the ideas that came out of the Hackathon.
That the Committee reviewed and commented on the report.