Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Mayor asks for clear guidance on what to do in emergencies

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Mayor Wayne Brown came under intense scrutiny regarding his initial response to the Auckland flooding event early in the year which claimed three lives.
  • Laura Kvigstad, Auckland Council reporter
    funded by New Zealand on Air

Auckland’s Mayor has asked for clear guidance on how future emergencies will be handled at Auckland Council.

At an Extraordinary Civil Defence and Emergency Management Committee on July 25, members approved the draft Auckland Civil Defence Emergency Management Group Plan for consultation.

The plan includes roles and responsibilities for officials including elected members like Mayor Wayne Brown.

While Brown acknowledged the responsibilities were laid out he wanted very clear guidance on what his role was during emergencies.

“I think this document deserves to have a structure about what happens when something’s happening – when the bomb goes off, I have got to really worry about what’s going on,” Brown said.

He said during flooding in January he was told how to declare a state of emergency but did not really know what was going on.

“How can I be absolutely sure that the right person is going to tell me at the right time?” Brown asked.

He said he wanted the document to be explicit because he was “still not sure,” what he was supposed to be doing.

“I need to be absolutely sure when we send out a management plan to be announced that when I am quizzed about my position that I feel confident that I know what is going to happen.”

Auckland Emergency Management general manager Paul Amaral said he was taking responsibility for communicating with the mayor.

“[The document] does not have the operating procedures.

“We are developing operating procedures for all the different functions and all that detail will sit in an operational document that is not part of this document,” Amaral said.

He said he would meet with the mayor to hash out the details of how things will work in an emergency.

Cr Ken Turner said the document created more questions than answers.

“It is like all the other resilience documents we have all over the place. All verbiage, a lot of philosophy, with little specification and it stimulates in me more questions than it does answers,” Turner said.

Cr Kerrin Leoni said each local board area needed clear emergency plans with predetermined civil defence centres.

“If we are going to go out to a consultation, we want to reflect some of those changes,” Leoni said.

Strategy and planning principal advisor Kristen Spooner said this was a high level plan to set out the issues and objectives for the next five years but other plans would look at more detail.

“We talk about working with local boards to ensure roles and responsibilities and lines of communication are clear in identifying really optimal locations for civil defence centres,” Spooner said.

Submissions on the group plan will be open throughout August at www.AKHaveYourSay.govt.nz.

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