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The Winchelsea Emergency Plan

What is an Emergency Plan?

The Winchelsea Emergency Plan is a type of Parish Emergency Plan, but it covers Winchelsea only (Rye Harbour ward now has a plan but other wards in the Parish of Icklesham do not). Emergency Plans describe how communities would try to cope in a major civil emergency, before the emergency services can get to them, and what they would do to help the emergency services once they arrive. Parish Emergency Plans are intended to support the emergency plans that the District and County Councils are obliged to produce under the Civil Contingencies Act of 2004.

What is a civil emergency?

A civil emergency is defined as any event or set of events that causes or threatens to cause major physical damage to property, the disruption of basic services, or fatal or other serious injuries, on a scale, or in the context of a wider emergency, that would stretch the normal emergency services. The most probable civil emergency in Rother District is flooding. Two roads in Winchelsea (Station Road and Tanyard Lane-The Strand) are at risk of flooding from the River Brede. The rest of Winchelsea is on a hill, up to 100 feet above sea level, but may still be at risk from flash flooding in heavy rain.

The Winchelsea Emergency Plan

The Plan describes:

  • the organised response of the community to civil emergencies affecting Winchelsea, before the arrival of the external agencies responsible for tackling civil emergencies in Rother District and East Sussex; and
  • the assistance that can be offered from within the community to those agencies after they arrive.

The Plan names the Emergency Response Wardens, to whom residents could turn for information or assistance, and who would be the first point of contact for external agencies arriving in Winchelsea in response to a local civil emergency. It also provides:

  • an inventory of known resources within Winchelsea;
  • a list of the volunteers who have indicated that they may be available in a local civil emergency;
  • a list of contacts at the external agencies responsible for tackling civil emergencies in Rother District and East Sussex; and
  • maps of the locality, highlighting key facilities (eg electricity sub-stations) and vulnerable points on local roads (eg bridges).

Who manages the Winchelsea Emergency Plan?

The Plan was originally drawn up by the Winchelsea Town Plan Steering Committee, with the assistance of the Emergency Planning Officers at Rother District Council. Public consultations on the draft Winchelsea Emergency Plan were held in July and August 2007. The final version was endorsed by the parish council in September 2007. The Winchelsea Emergency Plan is kept updated by the Winchelsea Emergency Group, who would manage its implementation in an emergency. The volunteers of this group act as Emergency Response Wardens, one of whom is also Flood Warden. The Plan is reviewed annually.

What would happen in Winchelsea in a civil emergency?

The Plan would be invoked by the Co-ordinator of the Winchelsea Emergency Group in response to an alert from the police, the emergency services, or the emergency planners at the District or County Council, or at his own initiative, if he becomes aware of a civil emergency which could affect Winchelsea. In the absence of the Co-ordinator, the decision will be taken by his deputy or, in his absence, another Emergency Response Warden, preferably in concert with the other Wardens. Once the Plan has been invoked, the Co-ordinator of the Winchelsea Emergency Group, or a deputy, would identify and assess the emergency and, if necessary, report it to Sussex Police HQ. He would establish an HQ in Winchelsea (probably at the New Inn) and convene a meeting of Emergency Response Wardens. The Group would:

  • Establish contact with Rother District Council and try to maintain a communications link.
  • Assemble as many members of the community as possible who are willing to volunteer to undertake tasks allocated during the emergency, briefing them on the nature of the emergency and the need to avoid unnecessary risks, including the handling of hazardous equipment on which they lack training. Volunteers will be given some means of identification, such as high-visibility jackets.
  • Identify the vulnerable members of the community and their situation.
  • Link up with emergency services as they arrive at the scene, and provide information and guidance as requested.
  • Assist Rother District Council at any Rest Centre set up in Winchelsea.
  • Provide an information point for residents, and disseminate information to residents as and when needed in support of and/or supported by Rother District Council.
  • Deal with the media.
  • Issue instructions to Emergency Response Wardens and volunteers to stand down upon confirmation from Rother District Council that the emergency is over, or that community resources no longer need be made continuously available to the emergency services.

The Plan has no legal force, and the Wardens have no powers to instruct or compel residents to follow the Plan.

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Get ready for winter driving

The Highways Agency has issued the following advice. There are things you can do at the start of winter, before the bad weather, to prepare your vehicle and reduce the chances of breaking down. Check your vehicle is in good running order, make sure tyres have got plenty of tread and consider regular servicing to help minimise the risk. If you’re going away, check what the forecast says for your return journey and if you’re travelling some distance remember to check the weather at your destination and along the route too.
Gather together the following items and pack in your vehicle at the start of the winter season, you never know when you might need them!

  • Ice scraper and de-icer
  • Warm clothes and blankets — for you and all passengers
  • Torch and spare batteries — or a wind-up torch
  • Boots
  • First aid kit
  • Jump leads
  • A shovel
  • Road atlas
  • Sunglasses (the glare off winter sun can be dazzling)

In addition, when setting out on journeys during the winter season remember to take with you:

  • Food and a flask with a hot drink
  • Any medication you, or other people travelling with you, need to take regularly

Check that your vehicle is ready for winter using the POWDERY checklist as a good reminder:

  • PETROL (or diesel). Have you got enough? Do you know where to fill up?
  • OIL — check levels once a month
  • WATER — check radiator and screen¬wash regularly
  • DAMAGE — check wipers, lights etc for signs of wear and tear or damage, and make sure windscreens, windows and lights are clear of ice and snow.
  • ELECTRICS — check lights, indicators and controls are working properly
  • RUBBER TYRES — are they well inflated, legal, with good tread and free from damage?
  • YOU — are you fit to drive? Have you slept well? Are you taking any medication that could make it unsafe for you to drive?

If you are planning to travel with pets, ensure that animals are safe and secure, and will not be a distraction to the driver or people travelling in your vehicle — seek appropriate advice before you travel.

The Winchelsea Emergency Group

Richard Comotto, Co-ordinator
Carol Eldridge, Emergency Response Warden
Stewart Elms, Emergency Response Warden
Chris Mears, Emergency Response Warden
Howard Norton, Flood Warden

To contact the Group, call 01797 224446 or e-mail

To view the Winchelsea Emergency Plan

You are welcome to download a copy of the Plan from which personal data have been removed. If you are from a village seeking to produce your own emergency plan, please contact us. We are happy to share our experience.

How to prepare for an emergency

An Emergency Information card has been produced and distributed to each household in Winchelsea. The card advises on basic preparations for a civil emergency, and explains how the Winchelsea Emergency Plan would work. It also gives the name of the Emergency Response Warden for each street. A special information card has been produced and distributed to households at the bottom of the hill in Winchelsea, which are at risk of flooding. If you live in a road at risk from flooding, you can sign up to the Floodline warning service run by the Environment Agency.

Advice for bad weather

The bad weather at the end of 2009 and start of 2010 prompted us to offer some precautionary advice. The weather at the end of 2010 turned out to be even worse than a year earlier. Just in case of another bout of bad weather, we are keeping the advice posted.

Be prepared. Think about getting in:

  • a store of non-perishable basic foods that would keep you and any pets going for a couple of days
  • a couple of large bottles of water (tap water is fine --- just continually use and refill)
  • logs, oil or coal (if you are able to use any of these fuels)
  • lamps, torches or candles (don’t forget batteries & matches)
  • warm clothes and blankets

Consider buying some means of cooking or heating that is not dependent on gas or electricity (eg a camping ring).

Be a good neighbour. Keep an eye on vulnerable neighbours. Are they keeping warm? Do they need shopping or other help? Do they have a helper who cannot get to Winchelsea? If you need help in order to help your neighbour, call WEG or a ward councillor. And ignore urban myths about Good Samaritans being sued. Just use commonsense. So, don’t worry about clearing snow from pavements on your street (and feel free to use the grit in the yellow bins in German Street, St Thomas’s Street, Roberts Hill and Strand Hill).

Avoid unnecessary personal risks. In bad weather, don’t make unnecessary car trips. If you must travel, check your car before you set out, clear any snow off the roof, take a (charged) mobile phone, pack extra warm clothing, a torch, a shovel and something like sacking to put under slipping tyres, stick to main roads and drive cautiously. Even if you go out for a walk, don’t go alone, or else wrap up well, take a mobile, and tell someone where you’re going and when you’ll be back.

Clearing snow from the pavement

Follow the Snow Code --- advice issued by the Department for Transport on clearing snow and ice from the pavement outside your home or public spaces to prevent slips and falls. Follow the snow code to clear snow and ice safely.

Grit bins in Winchelsea

If you need grit to put on frozen pavements or roads, there are deposits in several yellow bins placed around the village. The District and County Councils have no objection to the sensible use of this grit on the roads.

  • St Thomas's Street --- in front of the electricity sub-station
  • German Street --- by the side of the bus shelter
  • Roberts Hill (A259) --- two bins on W bank between the junction with Mill Road/Lane and the Ferry Gate --- this is a dangerous location!!!
  • at the bottom of Strand Hill --- on the NW corner
  • Royal Military Road --- on the SE corner of the Strand Bridge

After a flood

English Heritage has published a technical advice note to aid all those concerned with flood-damaged buildings and their contents, but particularly those which are of historic interest, whether statutorily listed or lying within conservation areas.

More information on emergency planning

The County Council has published a useful review of local risks and precautions called Community Risks in Sussex. Page 45, at the end of the document, sets out a very useful advice on how to plan for an emergency and what to do when it happens. This expands on the advice given in our Emergency Information card.