Waltham Forest to opt out of tri-borough emergency planning partnership

Waltham Forest is leaving an emergency planning partnership with two neighbouring boroughs to avoid having to “compete” for resources during major incidents.

Last week (January 13), the council’s cabinet voted to leave a tri-borough emergency planning service it has shared with Redbridge and Barking & Dagenham since 2017.

The council believes its own recently completed £1million “state of the art” 24/7 CCTV control centre will bring an “improved and enhanced approach” to managing a wider range of critical incidents “not within the scope” of the current agreement, which runs until August this year.

According to a report before Waltham Forest’s cabinet: “Most London boroughs currently have in-house services for their civil contingencies.

“This means that it is not necessary for boroughs to compete for emergency planning resources where the impact of a major incident spans several boroughs.”

At the tri-borough partnership’s “natural end” the £150,000 budget will be brought in-house to “strengthen the skills and capacity of [our] operation centre staff to deliver this key function on a cost-neutral basis,” the report adds.

Council leader Grace Williams said: “We have times when we do have to prepare for critical incidents, such as when we’ve had floods recently.

“We need to learn from experiences when we need to move towards a more local response, using our own control centre and giving that response that residents expect, I think this is an important step.”

Until August, the service will continue to be based at Barking & Dagenham.

A Redbridge Council spokesperson said: “The partnership has served all three boroughs well throughout what has been an extremely challenging time in light of the ongoing pandemic and other unforeseen emergencies such as the flash flooding incidents that hit parts of London in July 2021.

“Work is already underway at Redbridge to review our current emergency planning arrangements and a report setting out a number of options for the future of the borough’s emergency planning function will be presented to our management team in early spring.

“The current arrangements continue to serve the borough well in its preparedness for an emergency.”

A Barking and Dagenham spokesperson said they were “unable” to comment.

Josh Mellor

Local Democracy Reporter