More cash in case of emergency

EMERGENCY staff in Suffolk today welcomed the news that the government is to double the amount it gives local authorities to spend on civil defence planning.

EMERGENCY staff in Suffolk today welcomed the news that the government is to double the amount it gives local authorities to spend on civil defence planning.

In the wake of the 9/11 attacks and the war in Iraq, the government is to seriously increase the amount it spends on internal security.

This includes doubling grants given to local authorities for emergency planning - from £20 to £40 million.

The news comes as Suffolk county council's executive committee is to debate emergency planning at its meeting next week.

That should see all the emergency planning across Suffolk coming under the umbrella of the county council.

At present plans are drawn by both the county and district or borough councils.

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The county is proposing that a single structure headed by a County Emergency Planning Officer (CEPO) should be set up.

A publicity campaign should be run highlighting the role of emergency planning, for both the general public and council officials so they know what to do in the event of a civil crisis.

During the current financial year councils across Suffolk are spending £384,000 a year on emergency planning - including £221,786 directly from the government.

The report was prepared by deputy chief fire officer Ken Seager, who said it was pure coincidence that it was being considered at the same time as the spending review.

"I am sure the authority will welcome this announcement from the government,” he said.

“Our review has highlighted that more needs to be spent here in Suffolk on our emergency planning service, and the fact that government funding is likely to be increased means that we will be able to press ahead more quickly with our reforms."

"We must not make the mistake of thinking we are immune from emergencies in Suffolk.

“You only have to think about the last couple of years, with the effects of flooding, fires, foot and mouth and the fuel crisis to realise that we are at risk despite being a rural county.”

n Do you think it is money well spent? Write in to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk or visit the forum at www.eveningstar.co.uk

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