Doubts have been raised about South Holland’s ability to deal with a major disaster or emergency in the area.
Claims that volunteers trained to provide emergency planning in areas, such as Fleet, Long Sutton and Lutton, have been “left in limbo” by South Holland District Council were made by Holbeach parish councillors at a meeting last Monday.
I’m basically glad that nothing major has happened because the district council has made a decision without thinking it throughCoun Val Gemmell, Holbeach Parish Council
Coun Val Gemmell told councillors that the district council had taken on overall responsibility for preparation, response and recovery after disasters like flooding, drought or food shortages from Lincolnshire County Council (LCC).
But Coun Gemmill claimed that existing, community-led emergency response groups, including The Suttons and The Wash Emergency Planning Group, were unaware of the change and that the district council’s task would be a “challenge”.
She said: “The Emergency Planning Group has been set up terribly well by the community, not parish councils, and there are several towns and villages that are all in it together.
“It’s completely voluntary, with a few parish councils and businesses having chipped in with money at the start of it last year.
“LCC had also funded it as a resilience group and training courses were provided for volunteers to go on.
“Then we heard that at about the same time as it made a decision to take over grass cutting, South Holland District Council had voted to pull out of LCC’s Emergency Plan, without anything being put in place.
“I’m basically glad that nothing major has happened because the district council has made a decision without thinking it through.
“The district council has recruited someone who is going to be in charge of emergency planning and I wish them well.
“But it’s going to be a challenge and I just feel that those of us who had all the training as volunteers have been left in limbo.”
Coun Roger Gambba-Jones, portfolio holder for emergency planning said: “South Holland District Council now has a dedicated emergency planning officer whose role is to ensure that the council is able to continue to deliver services vital to the well-being of our residents should we experience any form of system failure or environmental incident.
“They are also able to offer advice to parish councils and community groups on their own local emergency planning activities and arrangements.
“In the event of an actual emergency in a particular area, the district council will liaise with LCC as the lead authority for such issues.
“Any community groups needing more detailed and practical assistance with their own emergency planning arrangements can contact LCC directly.”