25 Oct 2022

Yesterday we welcomed members, sponsors and partners to the ALARM Scotland Conference in Stirling. This year's theme is Beyond the Horizon, focusing on the skills and adaptability we need to come up with creative solutions for what lies ahead.

First on the agenda was Lesley Allan, from Kennedys, who provided an update on current and anticipated legal developments related to local authority risk. This included: the progress of and the wider reaction to the National Care Services (Scotland) Bill; engagement with ongoing public inquiries, with particular focus on the Scottish and UK COVID-19 inquiries and the Scottish Child Abuse inquiry; the work of Redress Scotland and the implications for the future of recent judgments in historic abuse claims; developments in road issues including increasing use of electronic vehicles and the implications of the Building Safety Act 2022 for Scottish public service organisations.

Lesley's talk was like a whole day's training in one. She covered different sections of law, all of which are going to impact us, all of which we need to think about, all of which we need to be aware of.

Ruth Kydd

ALARM Scotland Committee

Next we welcomed Alec Steel from the National Audit Office who talked about changes in the workplace post-COVID-19 and the implications for our organisations due to flexible working practice.

There are some people who’ve never been back to the office because they are petrified, versus some people who are desperate to get back into an office because they are lonely. His talk was designed to inspire us to think about others, in terms of other’s needs. He was so enthusiastic and got us all chatting and thinking.

Ruth Kydd

ALARM Scotland Committee

In the afternoon delegates split up into break out sessions. Bryan McCracken from Gallagher Bassett, gave us an insightful talk on changes to the Highway Code and its implications for fleet managers and drivers, including the hierarchy of road users.

Neil Cameron, Emergency Planning Officer for Aberdeenshire Council shared the Council's response to Storm Arwen which devastated areas of Scotland in November 2021. Up to 60,000 people were left without electricity for up to seven days. Neil explained that following reviews and research with partners and stakeholders they have been developing a community resilience strategy for Aberdeenshire. Keep an eye out for more from Neil in our upcoming Back to Basics Emergency Response Guide.

There is a traditional view that somebody will do something, but the Council is not an emergency service. We are trying to move away from that and promote individual, household, family and community resilience. People need to be individually resilient for 24, 48, 72 hours because it might take everyone that length of time to be in a position to provide some sort of follow up service.

Neil Cameron

Aberdeenshire Council

Sticking to the theme of Storm Arwen, Sam O'Connor from Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks led a post-Storm Arwen debrief. She stressed the importance of the Priority Services Register offered by all electricity suppliers and networks. It’s a free support service to help people in vulnerable situations, however it is a self-registering rather than a ‘true record’ of vulnerability. In the aftermath of Storm Arwen this lack of confidence in the system lead to a call for door knocking, to check on vulnerable people.

Mina Voskaki from Zurich Municipal wrapped up the day, revealing the latest thinking in adapting to climate change.

Mina gave a really scientific explanation to us all, it couldn’t have been clearer. We have got massive issues and to not act is going to make it a million times worse. There weren’t really any questions after as we were all sat there so shocked and that’s how you should be feeling. Firstly this isn’t right and secondly we need to take action.

Ruth Kydd

ALARM Scotland Committee

After an educational day of learning, delegates put their thinking caps on for Platinum Sponsors Kennedys' annual quiz night.