Council to lead new emergency task force

Alderman Arnold Hatch
Alderman Arnold Hatch

A new £3.5m NI-wide emergency task force, to cope with major incidents such as severe weather and fires, is to be led by Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Council.

The new multi-agency approach has the backing of 75 organisations across NI and will deal with all types of emergencies, including loss of power supply and industrial and transport accidents.

The new Service Level Agreement (SLA) was recently adopted between the Department for the Communities and the 11 NI Councils with unanimous support.

The ABC council will have the responsibility for coordinating the various emergency tasks across the Province.

Ulster Unionist Alderman Arnold Hatch said: “It has taken some time to draw up the £3.5m package spread over a five year period and will be funded by the Department for Communities.

“The NI Assembly Executive, when it was functioning in 2014, suggested a new structure and resource model which was agreed by our ABC council last Monday evening.

“ABC Council will employ all the officers and draw down the funding from the Department for Communities.

“There will be three Emergency Planning Groups (EPG’s). One based in Causeway Coast and Glens area for Northern EPG, Fermanagh and Omagh Council Area for Southern EPG and Belfast City Council for Belfast EPG.

“The ABC Council will be responsible for organising any training of officers and it will be the budget holder. The budget for the first two years will be £680k and ABC will receive 3% (£20,400) administration fee.

“This multi agency approach has taken years to develop the proposed structures and obtain commitment from over 75 organisations to work together to deal with all types of emergencies and it is hoped that our Province will be safer as a result,” Ald Hatch said.