Choice 2: Improving the capability of the Wellington Regional Emergency Management Office

by Charlotte,

In 2012 the Wellington Regional Emergency Management Office (WREMO) was created to ensure that all councils in the region were better connected and able to share resources in the event of an emergency. WREMO’s role was stated as: To deliver the plans, programmes and systems to enable local authorities to deliver readiness and response services to the community. All councils in the region agreed to fund WREMO. Greater Wellington has the role of administering WREMO and all staff are employees of Greater Wellington.

After the Kaikōura earthquake in late 2016, WREMO was asked to deliver a “step change in vision and strategy” for the region’s emergency management approach. WREMO carried out a review and identified a number of improvements that could be made, particularly in the areas of risk reduction and recovery. Also noted was the need to be better prepared to respond effectively to large-scale events.

Chief executives of the region’s nine councils met to discuss the findings of the review and the preferred way forward. The following role for WREMO was agreed upon:

  • Lead and coordinate the effective delivery of Civil Defence and Emergency Management (CDEM) actions across the 4Rs (reduction, readiness, response and recovery) for the Wellington region
  • Integrate national and local CDEM planning and activity through the alignment of local planning with the national strategy and national plan
  • Co-ordinate planning, programmes and activities related to CDEM across the 4Rs and encourage cooperation and joint action

Option 2A – our proposal

Provide WREMO with additional regional funding so they can build their capability around coordinating efforts to improve regional resilience. Regional resilience is the ability of the region to resist, absorb, accommodate to and recover from the effects of a hazard in a timely and efficient manner, including through the preservation and restoration of its essential basic structures and functions.

We have allowed for an increase of $297,000 starting in the 2018/19 year. This would bring our share of the funding to $1.19 million or 33 percent (total funding for WREMO is $3.66 million).

Extra funding, along with a smaller (11 percent) increase from the local councils, would provide WREMO with more resources for coordinating and leading recovery, coordinating with the Lifelines group of utility owners and operators, communicating with businesses and the wider community, and improving emergency management training. WREMO would be able to start implementing the changes during 2018/19. This increase equates to less than $1 (incl. GST) per ratepayer per year.

We are interested in your views both on the proposed outcomes and the balance of funding between councils.

Option 2B – the alternative

An alternative would be to provide WREMO with a reduced amount of additional funding: $155,000 in the 2018/19 year (a 2 percent increase for inflation and a 15 percent increase in funding). This equates to less than $1 (incl. GST) per ratepayer per year. This 17 percent increase would be shared equally across the councils, retaining the current funding shares between the councils.

While this option would reduce the total funding increase from Greater Wellington to WREMO, the commensurate increase in funding required by the other councils (from 11 percent to 17 percent) is likely to exceed their available funding and delay improvements to capability. The region would be less prepared to manage a major event and its aftermath, and councils are keen to avoid delays.

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