Disaster recovery

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IN THE early hours of Saturday August 20, the Emergency Plans of both Horsham District Council and Billingshurst Parish Council were put in to operation as a result of a serious fire at Coneyhurst.

This involved opening up Billingshurst Community and Conference Centre (formally Billingshurst Village Hall) to allow it to be used as an evacuation centre for residents affected by the incident.

Upon arriving at the hall at around 00.30, parish clerk Beverley Bell was met by a team from Sussex Police and Horsham District Council and between them they assisted just under 30 local residents who had needed to leave their homes. At around 8.15am all of the residents affected had left the hall and operations were wound down there.

The Emergency Plan worked very well and I am grateful for the professionalism and teamwork shown by Horsham District Council, Sussex Police and Mrs Bell.

I must of course also thank West Sussex Fire and Rescue for their response and bringing the incident under control as soon as possible and for the assistance given to local residents by the Selsey Arms in Coolham.

When getting together Emergency Plans everybody’s main hope is that they will never be needed.

However, Saturday’s incident proves that by having some plans in place, local authorities can assist the emergency services and members of the public at such times.

Other incidents where an Emergency Plan would prove vital are in the case of a rail or air accident and severe weather, such as last year’s snow.

PAUL BERRY

Chairman. Billingshurst Parish Council

Roman Way, Billingshurst