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PRICE OF OUR SAFETY - A PALTRY pounds 386; Extra cash for civil defence.

Byline: Peter Collins

AS the threat of war grows nearer, councils across South Wales have been given extra money to fight the increased risk of terror attacks. But councillors in the Vale of Glamorgan were shocked to learn how much they would receive: pounds 386 more than they had last year when the threat of a devastating terror attack was less.

Government funding for civil protection measures in the Vale for the current financial year stands at pounds 72,385.

And the extra money will be equivalent to an additional 0.33p for everyone in the county.

``The extra pounds 386 won't go very far,'' Coun Catherine Clay, the Vale council's cabinet member for legal services told her fellow councillors.

But she added: ``I am confident we will do all that is within our power. ``Whether any local authority could deal with the sort of threat we are talking about is questionable.''

Coun Clay added that council officers were studying a Government document giving guidelines on how to decontaminate people exposed to chemical, biological or nuclear substances.

Last month it was revealed Israeli spies believed there was a ``real and present danger'' of suicide attacks on a British city, and Cardiff International Airport and the Welsh capital could be on the hit list.

Welsh intelligence ex-pert Gordon Thomas said a bomber could walk into any store in the area, and set off a device.

Advice on a Home Office website says: ``There is no credible threat at this time.

``If a specific credible threat becomes apparent the Government and the appropriate authorities will, without hesitation, inform the public of what action to take.''

FEELING SAFE? THINK AGAIN!ACCORDING to suppliers of survival equipment, the pounds 386 added to the Vale council's budget for protecting local people could buy: # Almost three top quality gas masks that can protect you against such things as ``nerve agents, blister agents, blood agents and biological warfare''.

# About 25 bottles of potassium iodate tablets, which can help fight the effects of radioactive contamination.

# 38 copies of the book Germ Warfare: Military Biology and Biological Warfare Agents, a guide to the weapons that could be used against us.

# Nearly 20 minor surgerykits, or 24 emergency childbirth kits.

# 24 survival packs including such things as water tablets, a sleeping bag, knife and a whistle. # 1/36th of an 8ft by 30ft bomb shelter suitable for up to 20 people.

# Around 965 chocolate bars for those desperate to cheer themselves up.

QUESTIONS TO BE ASKEDTHE man in charge of emergency planning for Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan says questions need to be asked about the amount of extra cash being given to councils as war looms.

Cardiff council will also receive just pounds 386 extra in Government funding for civil protection measures in the new financial year - taking the pot to pounds 87,322. And Gavin Macho, principal emergency planning officer for Cardiff and the Vale says that just isn't enough.

``We are on the brink of war and being asked to prepare for the threat, but how can we do this when we are underfunded?'' he said.

``Since September 11, the Government has told us we must prepare the local population for whatever disaster may occur - the new threats of chemical and biological warfare and terrorism.

``However, the funds are not there to tackle these issues and we will be putting this to members of the cabinet office in Cardiff later this week.''

TELL US WHAT YOU THINKDo you think the council's are receiving enough money?

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Mar 11, 2003
Previous Article:Top prizes for readers.
Next Article:Fireworks restrictions considered.

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