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Mayor to play key role in London emergency plan

LONDON'S MAYOR is to play a key role in implementing a new emergency plan drawn up in the light of the 11 September terrorist attacks, officials confirmed this week.

Under the Cabinet Office's emergency planning review, all of the capital's major tall buildings and infrastructure sites have been visited to see how they could be better protected against terrorist attacks.

'The London part of the review has been done, ' said a Cabinet Office spokesman.

'We have forged much closer co-ordination of the Greater London Authority, central government, London boroughs, emergency services, transport police, operators like London Underground and owners of tall buildings.

'The Mayor of London will take the lead role in communicating that response to the public.'

Every major site in London was visited by a number of agencies and emergency response was tested in real time, he added.

A source who was involved in the Cabinet Office meetings told NCE that one of the issues looked at was where rubble would be taken in the event of a major building collapse and where to put evacuated people who had no means of getting home after a major incident.

The review was set up before 11 September when Prime Minister Tony Blair create the Civil Contingency Secretariat after the 2001 election in response to events such as foot and mouth, fuel crises and major flooding.

The review was to have run until October but, after 11 September, its scope increased.

The Cabinet Office also confirmed that more funding might be made available for local authority emergency planning.

At the moment, £19M is spread across local authorities in England. Under the review, it is proposed to give local authorities the 'lead role' in responding to emergencies in the regions.

In future, councils will have to carry out hazard assessments of potential targets such as tall buildings for the first time. 'They will have to look wider and broader at what could happen and add new elements, ' said the Cabinet Office spokesman.

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