We are now pre­par­ing for WHEN a ter­ror at­tack hap­pens – not if

The Chronicle - - News - By LAURA HILL Re­porter laura.hill@ncj­me­dia.com

A MA­JOR in­ci­dent like a ter­ror at­tack in the North East is a case of when, not if, coun­cil­lors have been told.

Over the past 18 months Gateshead Coun­cil has re­viewed how the au­thor­ity would re­spond to a ter­ror in­ci­dent.

Work­ing with neigh­bour­ing au­thor­i­ties, they have planned and prac­tised how they will work to­gether to re­spond to a ma­jor ter­ror alert.

All seven coun­cils in the re­gion took part in a train­ing ex­er­cise sim­u­lat­ing a ter­ror at­tack and a large scale fire in the fic­tional ‘NECA-bor­ough.’

“We are now run­ning for when it hap­pens, not if,” ser­vice di­rec­tor Tony Alder told Gateshead Coun­cil’s cor­po­rate re­sources overview and scru­tiny com­mit­tee yes­ter­day.

Anti-ter­ror of­fi­cers are also con­tin­u­ing to work with coun­cil chief ex­ec­u­tives, the com­mit­tee was told, and in Gateshead they are look­ing at in­stalling bol­lards at Gateshead Sta­dium.

Last March the coun­cil, Northum­bria Po­lice and other emer­gency ser-


vices tested their re­sponse to a ter­ror at­tack with an ex­er­cise at the Metro­cen­tre.

Armed po­lice pa­trolled the empty cor­ri­dors of the shop­ping cen­tre as they prac­tised their re­ac­tion to a ter­ror­ist on the loose.

And in Oc­to­ber po­lice and the coun­cils took part in a Home Of­fice planned ex­er­cise test­ing out a cross-bor­der re­sponse to a ter­ror at­tack over three­days.

Com­mit­tee chair­man Coun John Ea­gle said: “When it comes to things like this we’ve got to be pre­pared for ev­ery even­tu­al­ity be­cause we are liv­ing in a very dif­fer­ent world now, a very dif­fer­ent world to the one I grew up in.”

At the meet­ing Steve Ronchetti ques­tioned if the coun­cil had learned lessons from the Ker­slake re­port into the re­sponse to the Manch­ester Arena bomb at­tack, which found that due a break­down in com­mu­ni­ca­tion and plan­ning fire crews were held back from the scene for sev­eral hours.

Coun Steve said: “The de­fault should al­ways be to go to the scene un­less told oth­er­wise.”

Coun­cil­lors were also as­sured that what­ever hap­pens with North of the Tyne devo­lu­tion, the seven neigh­bour­ing coun­cils of the North East Com­bined Au­thor­ity; New­cas­tle, Northum­ber­land, North Ty­ne­side, Gateshead, South Shields, Sun­der­land and Durham, will con­tinue to work to­gether to pre­pare for emer­gen­cies.

Coun Steve said: “What­ever hap­pens I’d like to think we’ll al­ways have that re­la­tion­ship. We will al­ways be neigh­bours.”

Po­lice and emer­gency ser­vices test their re­sponse to ter­ror at the Metro­cen­tre

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