Agenda item

Disaster Recovery Planning (Agenda Item 9)

To receive an update from the Emergency Planning Officer.

Minutes:

The Emergency Planning Officer was in attendance.  She explained that she worked in partnership with Norfolk County Council and John Ellis, the NCC Resilience Officer was also in attendance.

 

Following a Business Continuity exercise in 2010 a strategy for the way forward had been agreed.  In accordance with the Civil Contingencies Act 2004 the Council (as a Category 1 responder) was required to have adequate measures in place to maintain essential services and subsequently recover from the effects of any significant disruption to normal working.  That process was known as Business Continuity Management.

 

Contingencies needed to be in place to deal with disruptions such as the loss of premises, loss of key infrastructure, loss of key staff or supplier failure.

 

It had been suggested that a back-up generator was needed for Elizabeth House, but the Emergency Planning Officer considered that the resilience of the Council as a whole needed to be addressed – not just back up power for the Council offices.

 

She had raised the issue of the Bunker as a possible useful resource to be considered within the business continuity plan.  It needed upgrading to make it fit for purpose.  If there was IT and telephony resilience it would be possible to continue service delivery from alternative work areas, such as the bunker.  The Emergency Planning funds currently covered the the rates, telephony, broadband and service costs of the bunker.

 

With the advent of shared management with South Holland the Business Continuity framework needed to cover both authorities.  The Corporate Management Team had strategic responsibility and Business Plans were to be completed as soon as possible to identify priority services and strategies to ensure their continuity.

 

As part of the evaluation the Business Improvement & Projects Sub-Committee had proposed that the matter be passed to the Commission for more detailed discussion and to provide assurance on the effectiveness of plans and procedures.

 

The Chairman then asked the Strategic Property Manager to present his report.

 

The Strategic Property Manager explained that his report was made from a property perspective only.  As part of the Business Continuity plans they had been asked to provide a quote for a feasibility study to bring the bunker up to the required standards.  They had received a quote of £4,500 to carry out that study.  The bunker contained a lot of specialist equipment including a ventilation system.  There were fuel cells and no natural light.  The access, which was down a flight of steps, was not DDA compliant.

 

The bunker had never been let previously and was currently used to store the Council’s Deeds.  From a property perspective there was not considered to be any significant commercial letting value.  There was other, better space available locally.

 

The option to undertake the feasibility study still existed but was not seen as a viable option.  The Strategic Property Manager recommended that the bunker be used for corporate storage, releasing other space for letting.

 

The Executive Member for Localism, Community and Environmental Services said that the bunker came under her Portfolio.  She suggested that Members should visit the facility.  It was a large area and needed to be used somehow.  It was currently used for document storage however, there were no fire precautions in the bunker.

 

The Executive Member for Assets and Strategic Development said that it would cost a lot of money to bring the bunker up to habitable standard.  It had not been clearly identified how much space would be required for business continuity purposes and it might be that only part of the bunker would need to be upgraded.  The size of any back-up generator also had yet to be determined.

 

Mr Bambridge thought that a generator that would supply the whole of Elizabeth House would not be much more expensive than one to supply only part of the building.  Even with added on-costs the generator would be a justifiable investment when set against close-down wage costs.

 

The Director for Commissioning informed Members that the Council had recently acquired the ability to ‘mirror’ its IT and telephony.  That meant that no generator would be needed for those services as IT and telephony could be switched to Breckland House in Thetford if needed.

 

The Emergency Planning Officer said that a generator might not be needed as the Council could operate from another location and some people might work from home.

 

Mr Gilbert asked if it would be possible to work from South Holland but the Director for Commissioning explained that currently there was no connection of services or telephony, although some staff might be able to work there.

 

The Chairman could not believe that the Deed Store was in an area without fire protection.  That issue needed to be addressed right away and costs were irrelevant.

 

The Executive Member agreed that officers should look at electrical safety etc and report back to the next meeting.<1>  He also suggested that resilience during disaster and emergency response could be looked at by a Task & Finish Group.

 

The Chairman agreed.  The Commission could not currently endorse the recommendations in the report.  A Task & Finish Group should look at all the implications and see if it was possible for the bunker to be brought back into use.

 

RESOLVED that:

 

(1)               an immediate  fire protection assessment be carried out on the bunker; and

(2)               a Task & Finish Group be set up to look at all the issues.  Mr Kybird to liaise with the Scrutiny Officer to set up the Group.

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