We are now preparing for WHEN a terror attack happens – not if
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-
COUNCILS TAKE PART IN TRAINING FOR LARGE INCIDENT
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