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LOCAL AUTHORITIES TO SUPPORT FUEL DISTRIBUTION TO EMERGENCY SERVICES

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Local councils have been called on by the government to help distribute fuel to priority services, the Local Govern...
Local councils have been called on by the government to help distribute fuel to priority services, the Local Government Association has confirmed.

LGA leaders have been in discussions with the government over the last 48 hours to establish plans to resolve the fuel distribution problems which have gripped the country, and have advised ministers on those services that should be given priority.

Local authority officers and the police will supervise the distribution of fuel to key services from 300 designated petrol stations across the country. Councils will however be given discretion to decide priority cases according to local needs and the availability of fuel.

The home office is writing to all council chief executives to inform them of their new role and to advise them of the priority services that have been specified.

LGA chair Jeremy Beecham, said: `With such limited fuel supplies available we have stressed to the government the importance of prioritising resources for critical services and I am delighted they have listened to us.

`Based on the LGA's advice, the home office has now produced a list of priority users although we are pleased councils will also have discretion to determine allocations locally.

`With demand at such a level this will inevitably be a challenging role for local authorities and their staff but I am sure councils will respond accordingly and continue to work with the police and central government to help alleviate demand across the country.

`We are urging local authorities to ensure the continuity of services wherever possible and are advising them that decisions not to provide services should be taken as locally as possible rather than authority-wide to minimise disruption to their communities', he said.

NOTES

* A special website, has been launched giving information about the availability of fuel.

The government has also opened a telephone helpline giving

information about the current fuel situation. The helpline will give

details of relevant websites and where information may be found on

Teletext (ITV) page 364, and Ceefax (BBC) page 157.

Information Telephone Line: 0845 6071 071;

0845 6087 087 (for people with hearing impairment)

* A copy of the priority users list; home office letter to local authorities and LGA letter to chief executives follows. A list of list of designated petrol stations is available on request from LGCnet. Tel 0207 347 1832/3.

Dear Chief Executive

ALLOCATION OF FUEL TO ESSENTIAL USERS AT DESIGNATED PETROL STATIONS

PURPOSE OF THIS NOTE: To request all local authorities to review the attached list of petrol stations, in order to identify those within their area, and to immediately provide emergency planning or other appropriate staff to administer the essential user scheme. To make immediate contact with site operators, and the local Chief Police Officer, to agree local operational arrangements.

As anticipated in recent briefings from LGA procedural arrangements are currently being finalised, and are expected to be issued later today. I will send you details of the scheme as soon as they are available. In the interim, please refer to the attached note on Priority Users, issued, last night by Jonathan Duke-Evans (Home Office) and the attached updated Guidance on Priority Purposes, which should be used with local discretion.

These arrangements will apply at 300 service stations in order to provide fuel for essential users. There are now stocks of fuel at these petrol stations. The scheme will be voluntary in that it will not have statutory backing.

I have been in touch with the LGA regarding recent developments: upon their advice, I suggest that County authorities take the immediate lead, cascading to Districts, where appropriate.

ACPO are writing to local Chief Police Officers along similar lines.

It is expected that a public announcement will be made about these arrangements in the very near future.

Thank you for your co-operation.

Yours sincerely

PETER DAVIES

Head of Emergency Planning

Chief executives of local authorities

in England and Wales

14 September 2000

Dear Chief Executive

Fuel Distribution Problems

The Local Government Association has been involved in extensive discussions this week with the Home Office, the Department of the Environment and the Regions and the Department of Trade and Industry about the scale of the difficulties caused to local communities and local authority services by the current fuel shortages. Advice notes have been sent out from the LGA by email or fax over the past two days to keep you informed.

Local government is also now being asked to make a significant contribution to help alleviate the immediate problems for public services. This means local authority staff participation in the emergency scheme making decisions on eligibility for fuel, at a small number of designated petrol stations. It will be a high profile role for local government, showing councils at their best providing community leadership and commitment to service. However, at national level, we are all aware that staff volunteering to undertake these duties would be doing so under extremely difficult conditions. In the main the assumption is that these staff will be emergency planning officers or other appropriate officers.

You may already have received details direct from the Home Office - and copies are attached - but to summarise:

- 300 petrol stations across the country will be designated to receive fuel. This is a reduced number on the original proposals. The list of sites is attached

- The local authority member of staff will be backed up by police presence

- There is a list attached of 28 priority purposes for oil, which covers most of the areas we have asked for

- A note from the Home Office on how the allocation should work in terms of identification required is attached

Please note that the staff making the judgments are invited touse the list as guidance and that the purpose is not to restrict the use of fuel only to these purposes. Staff are being encouraged to use discretion according to local needs and the availability of fuel. The letter from the Home Office asks for immediate contact to be made with petrol station site operators and the local Chief Police Officer to agree local operational arrangements.

This will be an extremely challenging task for individual staff and for local authorities. The LGA and its emergency planning advisers are willing to offer support and advice as needed. However it is an important community role which will help relieve the pressure on hospitals, social services, the food chain, public transport, postal and other public services vital for everyday life and will help return the country to normal more speedily. I am sure that local government will respond accordingly.

In addition, the Local Government Association is urging local authorities to ensure continuity of services wherever possible. We would advise that decisions to curtail or close services should be taken at as local a level as possible, rather than on a blanket basis.

Regarding local government employees, there is also advice available from the Employers Organisation to ensure that the work of local authorities is impaired as little as possible. This has already gone out to provincial employers' secretaries but a copy is attached for your information.

Yours sincerely

GUIDANCE ON PRIORITY PURPOSES

1. Performance of functions of the police or the armed forces, or operation of the fire services.

2. Operation of health or social services.

3. Manufacture, processing, storage, packaging, distribution or sale of food including milk, milk products, animal feeding stuffs, pet foods or salt.

4. Movement or slaughter of livestock for the production of food or of animal feeding stuffs or for veterinary reasons.

5. Essential operations at nuclear sites.

6. Maintenance of water supplies or operation of sewerage and drainage services.

7. Production, supply, distribution or transmission of solid or liquid fuel, or gas or electricity in the course of business, or provision of emergency services to consumers of such fuels.

8. Operation of railways, tramways, docks or harbours.

9. Operation of any of the following transport services -

(1)coach or bus services (excluding excursions or tours);

(2)services provided by employers of labour for taking their employees to or from their work by means of vehicles adapted to carry eight or more passengers;

(3)airport bus services.

10. Operation of air traffic control, air navigation and civil airline services or air marine safety or navigational services.

11. Marine safety, navigational (including pilotage), shipping and ferry services.

12. Search and rescue services including coastguard and lifeboat services.

13. Production or distribution of medical or pharmaceutical supplies.

14. Operation of postal and telecommunications services (including broadcasting, newspaper production and distribution).

15. Transmission of money or of social security and other essential official payments or documents.

16. Movement or delivery of cash or cheques.

17. Operation of payment, clearing or settlement services.

18. Agriculture or horticulture for the production of food or animal feeding stuffs.

19. Operation of fishing vessels.

20. Manufacture or distribution of ice or dry ice for use in the food trades.

21. Essential central government and local government functions

22. Administration of justice, including the operation of prison services and electronic tagging services.

23. Environmental and environmental health services and related emergencies.

24. Funeral services including cremation.

25. Refuse collection and disposal.

26. Industrial processes involving hazardous or radioactive substances, including transportation.

27. Veterinary services.

28. Operation (including heating) of special schools or colleges for the handicapped.

29. Foreign diplomatic missions for essential purposes.

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