Council worked hard

PUBLISHED: 17:29 26 February 2009 | UPDATED: 15:59 11 May 2010

SIR - I would like to clarify some of the issues arising from the emergency at Gaunts Way and Eastern Way, Letchworth GC on February 8-11, demonstrating that there was good partnership working between North Herts District Council (NHDC), North Herts Homes

SIR - I would like to clarify some of the issues arising from the emergency at Gaunts Way and Eastern Way, Letchworth GC on February 8-11, demonstrating that there was good partnership working between North Herts District Council (NHDC), North Herts Homes (NHH), the Police and voluntary services.

Our advice from the emergency services was that there was no need to evacuate the area, so our role in emergency planning terms was to keep in touch with progress, and help to get things back to normal. This was not easy as the contractors' estimates fluctuated, and on Monday, February 9, we opened an emergency centre at 6.45pm, with hot food and drinks provided by NHDC officers; only one resident chose to take advantage of that service.

We were informed on Tuesday that power was likely to be restored shortly, so no additional services were arranged, but when a problem arose restoring the supply late that evening, the loss of supply carried into Wednesday, February 11.

NHH worked with NHDC and other partners throughout the day to determine from the contractors when power would be restored, waiting for the contractors' update at 4pm. We then updated residents with hand delivered letters, and fully prepared hot meals for the remaining 18 households without power. Again, only one resident attended and the centre closed early.

Throughout the incident the Police checked on vulnerable residents and acted as our 'eyes and ears'. The presence of a uniformed officer is added assurance to more vulnerable households, especially after dark. As part of that regular update, the local sergeant alerted us to the needs of a young family without power. As a result our housing officer placed the family into a room, paid for by the council, in a local hotel. Ms Cavalli's family may only have seen police officers as they were moved to their hotel, but I can assure her it was the district council who made the arrangements.

The police have rightly been recognised for their professionalism and contact with the public throughout this incident, but more account needs to be taken of the significant amount of work which went on behind the scenes in which the Police, NHH, NHDC and volunteers were involved.

There are clearly some misunderstandings between us and Ms Cavalli and I am arranging for her to be visited by a senior officer in order to try to resolve these.

Cllr F John Smith

Leader

North Hertfordshire District Council

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