Led by Board Director, Helen Ball FSLCC, Clerk to Shrewsbury Town Council, the SLCC team has submitted their written evidence to the Home Affairs Committee currently scrutinising the draft Terrorism (Protection of Premises) Bill – Martyn’s Law.
Our submission was underpinned by feedback from members to our recent survey on how this proposed legislation will affect clerks and their councils. Thank you to all who responded. With these responses, we were able to highlight to the Committee the implications of the Bill for those owning or managing community buildings, stress that compliance measures must be proportionate, ask for clarification around what determines a qualifying premises or event, point out that many open-air events (e.g. remembrance parades, Christmas light switch-ons, fetes and carnivals) appear to fall out of scope and more.
It’s clear that a huge number of local councils organise events and clerks already draw up risk assessments and event management plans. What is evident from the survey is that some counter terrorism training would be welcomed. Terrorist activity is, thankfully, uncommon in the sector, but as we have seen in recent years, the threat has changed and being more resilient to it at a local level is vital.
We have urged the Home Office to work closely with the SLCC and the National Association of Local Councils (NALC) on the rollout of the new law – local councils are, after all, in a unique position to be able to raise awareness and so increase resilience within their communities. We also emphasised that the sector needed funding towards training and that it would need to be bespoke to our sector rather than an off-the-shelf package.
In the meantime, the latest edition of The Clerk features an article kindly contributed by Figen Murray, mother of Martyn Hett, tragically killed in the Manchester Arena terrorist attack in 2017. This clearly sets out her tireless campaign towards a new law to protect and help make sure lives are saved.