East Midlands Chairs of SAGs Develop a Mutual Aid Agreement

Wendy Harnan-Kajzer, chair of SAGs at Nottinghamshire County Council

Wendy Harnan-Kajzer, chair of SAGs at Nottinghamshire County Council tells us how a number of local authorities have formally agreed to share resources and expertise in an emergency. 

The East Midlands Chairs of SAGs group (EMSAG) has developed a mutual aid agreement for participating local authorities to provide support and advice to each other on safety at sports grounds matters.

The idea was sparked by a review of business continuity plans for the emergency planning team at Nottinghamshire, where I work as team manager. In common with many authorities, the safety at sports grounds function is fulfilled at Nottinghamshire by just two people. This posed the question of what if we were both either away or ill when a serious concern about a sports ground arose? The remaining members of the team would need expert advice in order to be able to discharge the authorities’ responsibilities under safety at sports grounds legislation, and SAG chairs in neighbouring authorities would be the ideal people to provide that advice.

Initially, I made an informal agreement with my counterpart in Nottingham City Council. However, it seemed a logical step to suggest to members of EMSAG that this could be put on a more formal basis and extended to include a wider group of authorities. As a group, we have now produced a simple, clear written agreement to be signed by senior officers.

Six authorities are currently planning on signing up to the agreement, which is based on other mutual aid agreements in environmental health and building control. It simply outlines a commitment made by each signatory authority, to provide advice and support to officers in the other authorities if they should need it in order to discharge their responsibilities under safety at sports grounds legislation. A contact list of officers is included as an appendix for easy reference in an emergency. Like most mutual aid agreements, it is not legally binding, but sets out a framework within which authorities agree to assist each other where possible.

Through the national network of SAG chairs groups, we will be sharing the details of the agreement with other local authorities in case they want to develop something similar to increase the resilience of their own safety at sports grounds function.

Wendy will be a panellist at the SGSA “Spectator Safety in a Changing World” conference on May 9 2016. Places are now limited. If you are interested in attending the event, please email Nikki.rutherford@sgsamail.org.uk