Funding received from an electricity network provider has enabled Gillingham Town Council to purchase equipment which will help protect people’s welfare and improve communications during a local emergency. Southern Electric Power Distribution established the Resilient Communities Fund to support communities in order to improve local resilience during emergencies.
During an extreme weather event, emergency services need to prioritise those in greatest need and this means that in certain situations communities may need to rely on their own resources to cope with an incident until they can be reached by professionals. In Gillingham, a small working party has been set up by the Town Council under the leadership of Councillor Paul Harris. It has built on existing relationships and networks, and applied local knowledge to ensure that the town can act in a way that complements the responses of the emergency services and creates a stronger, coordinated framework from which to effectively deal with severe weather situations.
The grant money was used to buy equipment and Gillingham’s Community Resilience Plan was updated. On 20 April 2017 a table top exercise was arranged by the Civil Contingencies Unit to test the effectiveness of Gillingham’s Community Resilience Plan. It was attended by representatives from Gillingham Town Council, Dorset Police, Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service, Dorset County Council, British Telecommunications Plc, Dorset RAYNET, the Environment Agency and the Dorset Local Resilience Forum.
Civil contingencies officer, David Beavis said: ‘Gillingham’s Community Resilience Plan is a prime example of what effective measures can be put in place at a local level, and the Civil Contingencies Unit will refer to Gillingham’s plan on the Local Resilience forum’s webpage as an example of good practice.’
Councillor Paul Harris, who attended the exercise on behalf of the council said: ‘We have had great support from SSE in further developing our emergency resilience plans and to purchase additional equipment. We have specific challenges in Gillingham around flooding and much of this equipment will allow our flood wardens to be more effective in their work.’