Monday, 23 March 2009

100 people leave their homes after major gas leak

I got an email asking me to turn up to a briefing at the enclosed address. I fed the information into the 'sat nav' which promptly rejected it-'no such address' and offered me a range of alternatives. As I knew roughly where I was going I set off. Arriving at what I thought was close to my destination I noticed my colleague Mike Booth wandering around. He looked as if he knew where he was go. I parked up and went to join him. It transpired that he was as lost as I was. There was certainly no number relating to the address on the invite and we were at the end of the road. Peering through a metal fence beyond a patch of land overgrown with budleigha bushes and the like we saw parked cars. We had found our destination.

Quite why the Emergency planning team are so hidden is a question we didn't pursue. It was a good time to visit the team in the immediate aftermath of the evacuation of Town Lane when the press reported that 100 folk had had to leave their homes because of a gas leak-many of them sleeping over at the Dunes leisure centre. Mike represents that ward and was keen to learn more about how the response was organised.

We were joined by Council Leader Tony Robertson and together the team talked us through how the incident was dealt with. Their systems were very impressive and the team of three were clearly dedicated and enthusiastic about their work. After any major incident there is a need to reflect on practice and to critically evaluate how things went. I was pleased to see that the team were up for that process and were keen to learn from experience.

Many of the system used last week are relatively new and clearly represent a significant improvement on previous systems. Any procedure like this needs co operation across the public services and utilities and a lot of time has been spent preparing this work