Agenda item

Actions Arising (Agenda item 4)

To note the progress of actions from the last meeting.


A number of matters had been discussed under Minute No. 47(a) above.


(a)         Emergency Generator


The Chairman had heard that the wind-speed would decrease in the future which could, in turn, create severe power fluctuations by 2015.  He felt, therefore, that there was a greater need for a back up generator to be installed at the Council.


The Emergency Planning Officer advised that she had had a very good meeting with Kings & Barnham (organised by Asset and with ICT in attendance) to look at the different options for the provision of a back up generator for Elizabeth House.  She explained, however, that the cost of supplying a smaller unit to power part of the building was not cost effective due to additional electrical works that would be required.  Figures were provided for the different options, with a quotation of £33,957.40 plus VAT for a generator to provide power to the whole of Elizabeth House.  It was highlighted that additional costs would be incurred, for example, for planning permission, provision for a hard standing, installation of the unit to the hard standing, on-going maintenance, and fuel costs.


The Assistant Director of Finance explained that further quotes would be required at that level to adhere to Standing Orders.


It was further explained that a Health & Safety Assessment of the bunker (including water hygiene management) had been undertaken by Norfolk County Council with a list of recommendations (e.g. fire risk assessment, PAT testing) if it was to be considered as a Work Recovery Area for business continuity purposes.  The bunker, although currently limited, had a back up generator, telephones, wireless router and broadband connectivity.  The facility could accommodate up to 25 people depending on the layout, and could support an Incident Management Team and critical services staff in the event of an incident affecting Elizabeth House. Business rates of £3k and the costs of regular generator maintenance were currently paid for from within the Emergency Planning budget.


The Emergency Planning Officer asked for guidance on the way forward as she felt that the bunker, if all tests were carried out, could be used for business continuity.  In response to a question, Members were informed that business continuity was on the Risk Register as a medium risk at present.  It was explained that under the Civil Contingencies Act the Council had a statutory duty to have business continuity management in place to ensure continuity of critical services in the event of a worse case scenario.


A Member felt that a further quote for a generator was required as he thought the quote from Kings & Barnham was too expensive.  He also felt that monies should not be wasted on the bunker when the Council already had a perfectly good building in Elizabeth House.  In response to a question about how much workspace was available at Breckland House in Thetford, Members were informed that four floors were probably used.


The Chairman advised that the cost of bringing the bunker up to a working standard would have to be one of the main factors to consider and urged the Council not to be complacent as accidents could happen.  He felt that the Emergency Planning Officer and the Asset Management Team should work together on this and the rates should be reviewed.  It was not good practice to pay £3k per annum to stand empty.


After further discussion, it was suggested that the bunker should be passed over to the Overview & Scrutiny Commission for a more in-depth discussion of what the Council’s requirements were for business continuity.  Asset Management would have to be involved as part of the deliberations.<1>


The Emergency Planning Officer advised that the bunker, if refurbished, could be marketed for other opportunities such as a training facility.


It was agreed that this matter should be brought back to the next meeting.


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