Ottery emergencies need more 'joined up thinking'

EMERGENCY situations in Ottery need more joined up thinking from authorities according to the town council.

EMERGENCY situations in Ottery need more "joined up thinking" from authorities according to the town council.

While the councillors praised the "brilliant job" done by police and fire service during the unforgettable storm and flooding of October 30, they feel more local involvement in a multi-agency approach, which includes district and county councils and the Environment Agency, is essential should any further misfortune be heaped upon the town.

Councillor Paul Lewis wants lesson to be learned from the feedback given at a flood surgery held last month. He said: "The message was there was no joined up thinking - It didn't work as well as it should have and ended up a day too late getting to places that needed it. It was proved on that night, lets not kid ourselves, it did not work as a multi agency approach."

Silver Control, a civil emergency team which involves all the main agencies was called together in Exeter in the early hours of October 31 to co-ordinate an immediate response to the devastation.

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Otterty's district councillor Ray Bloxham said: "There is a central room set up with all the equipment ready to deal with these situations. Someone needs to be there- there already was a plan in place but it needs reviewing in light of what happened.

"Perhaps it is not a case of reinventing the wheel - it exists now, but a matter of making contact with all authorities to see how town council can be more involved."

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Mayor Glyn Dobson, who was among several councillors who helped hard-hit residents in the immediate aftermath of the storm, said: "If that system is in place it should involve the parish it affects. We (town council) weren't aware and still aren't. I remember being called out to help in Coombe Lake on the Saturday where two cottages had been completely flooded out, one woman was sat there without power- nobody knew she was there. The town council needs to be more involved, we have not got the money or resources but we can direct those resources."

Cllr John Harding added: "With the multi-agencies a link is missing- the local link and we (the town council) are that.

"We need a contact that agencies know is a local person that is known by everybody. The multi agencies have no idea who I am but I know my people, they don't."

The council will now arrange a meeting with relevant agencies to tackle the issue.

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