Terms of Reference
1 Government position
1.1 The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee has decided that it will hold an inquiry into the summer flooding across the country and evidence sessions are likely to begin on 10 October. The Select Committee's work is intended to contribute to the conclusions of the independently led lessons learned parliamentary inquiry that the Secretary of State announced on 12 July 2007. Sir Michael Pitt will chair the independent inquiry.
2 The County Council’s response
2.1 Gloucestershire was one of the areas hardest hit by the flooding which caused widespread devastation resulting in the loss of electricity, drinking water and sanitation as well as the dislocation of the road and rail network. Furthermore the Emergency and its aftermath highlighted the fact that crucial elements of the county’s infrastructure are singularly vulnerable, whatever the emergency.
2.2 The County Council, as one of the community leaders, wants to ensure that the views and interests of the people of Gloucestershire are represented in both of the planned national Inquiries. In order to inform the Council’s response to both the select committee and the parliamentary inquiry, it is proposed that there be a local Scrutiny Inquiry. This Inquiry will be held in public and will scrutinize the Council’s performance as the emergency management authority and take evidence from a range of partnership bodies, public utilities and other interested parties in order to investigate the contributory causes of the summer flooding and assess the lessons to be learned from the emergency response and its aftermath which, amongst other things, will help inform the Council’s contribution to the Select Committee and the Parliamentary Inquiry.
Specifically the Scrutiny Inquiry will
Take evidence in order to build up a picture of
- Types of flooding and the contributory factors that give rise to different types of flooding such as the effectiveness of critical watercourses, the resilience of drainage systems or the efficiency of expensive flood defences.
- Urban flooding and all associated matters e.g. riparian rights, building on the flood plain, the clearance and maintenance of streams, brooks, gullies and sewers etc. Longlevens will be used as an example.
- The effect of key Gloucestershire public utilities being sited close to major rivers and what contingency plans are in place.
- The emergency response by the county council and other agencies involved in the Emergency including the contribution of the Tri-Service Centre in the effectiveness of Gold Command.
In order to
- Highlight any contributory factors, beyond the exceptional weather conditions, that resulted in the flooding.
- Seek reassurance regarding the resilience of plans to safeguard those utilities that have been identified as single points of failure whatever the emergency.
- Identify good practice by the council and other agencies in response to the flooding and its aftermath.
- Identify aspects of the response that could have been managed more effectively.
In order to
- Identify the lessons that can be learned from the emergency and responses to it
- Provide the local community with the assurance that there has been a transparent review of all aspects of the emergency and its aftermath to date and that the lessons learnt will both inform national agencies about actions needed at that level and enable local agencies to ensure good practice is maintained and to improve their reaction to future emergencies.
- To make recommendations, if appropriate, on measures that could improve the council’s and other agencies’ response to future emergencies.
- To identify, if appropriate, whether there are opportunities in the repair process to improve the resilience of the county’s infrastructure.
- To inform the Council’s response to the Parliamentary Select Committee on Flooding and the Parliamentary Inquiry on The Lessons Learned