How the councils help the grieving nation

Operation London Bridge, the processes to follow when passing the monarch, is now underway. LGC explains the steps counsel will need to follow during the period of bereavement.

While the Queen’s death came as a great shock to the nation, a plan has been in place for some time now in anticipation of the sad news; Guidelines released early last year by the National Association of Civic Officers (NACO) on the protocols to follow were the sixth edition in recent years.

Dubbed Operation London Bridge, the national plan was drawn up by NACO, the Cabinet Office and Buckingham Palace. Every member of the royal family has such a bridge-themed plan; That of Prince Philip was codenamed Forth Bridge.

There are many factors to consider; LGC understands that some of those senior civic officers tasked with coordinating the arrangements were up until midnight last night and back to work at 6am this morning.

The time scale

In the capital, the proclamation of a new monarch takes place on ‘D-Day (meaning death day) plus one’, but elsewhere in England the Lord Lieutenant of an area proclaims a new monarch on D-Day more two. However, there are question marks over how strictly this will be followed as the announcement of the Queen’s death did not come until 6.30pm last night. It is understood that we are still indeed D-Day this morning.

It is also yet to be officially confirmed whether the official day of the funeral will be Monday, September 19, but councils are expected to make arrangements based on this.

The first thing for councils to do is lower their town hall flags and post appropriate messages on social media and websites to alert residents to the sad news. They should then consider ensuring that condolence books are displayed in public places for people to sign, arrange to leave flowers and put black ribbons on pictures. Often these ceremonial arrangements are led by civic officers.

Proclamation of a new king

The High Sheriff announces the proclamation of a new King in the county regions, with the Lord Lieutenants (representatives of the ruler) also to say a few words. Mayors and other representatives of small councils in this area will be present when this happens and will return to their areas to announce the proclamation locally later today.

There are also other provisions that a board may wish to implement; the Lord Mayor in some areas will carry out visits to care homes to allow the most vulnerable to pay their respects to the Queen.

The flag is raised briefly for the proclamation of the new king, then lowered again for the remainder of the mourning period.

Decide which events should take place

Councils must also now determine which events and meetings should be canceled during the ten-day period and which will continue. The fate of board meetings will be decided by the officers, cabinet members and committee chairs. Guidelines issued by the Department of Leveling, Housing and Communities in March did not indicate whether council meetings should continue, but LGC understands that it is expected that councils will lean towards the cancellation of most of their meetings.

There is no obligation for an organization to suspend its activities or to cancel or postpone events and sporting matches during the period of mourning. But Hackney LBC has decided to cancel the Hackney Carnival on Sunday.

Funerals

LGC understands that the government is keen to avoid very large crowds descending on the capital and is collecting data from local resilience forums, made up of heads of emergency services and councils from an area, to get an idea events planned for this. ease the pressure on the systems in London. For example, some councils may wish to show funerals on large screens in public spaces.

Government guidance which has been made public reads: “Many community organisations, including places of worship, local authorities and charities, will hold events commemorating the life and service of Her Majesty. This may include holding retreat (or similar) services, as well as opportunities for those with no religious beliefs to pay their respects. Local authorities will support the coordination of local events, so please check with them or your local place of worship for details.