Cheshire West and Chester Council says it is “taking vital steps to ensure there are plans in place” in the event that the UK leaves the European Union (EU) on 31 October 2019 without a withdrawal agreement in place.
Following the work of the council’s Brexit commission, the authority has been recognised as a national example in effective planning.
This is particularly important since Cheshire West has been identified as one of the most vulnerable areas to the consequences of a no-deal Brexit due to its industrial base.
To help identify the implications and develop plans accordingly, the council has been working with partners from the Local Government Association, business organisations, and other bodies over the last 3 years to share intelligence and understand concerns in communities.
Cheshire West and Chester Council is also a member of the Cheshire Local Resilience Forum, which brings together the local councils, police, NHS, fire and rescue service and other partners, to plan for all eventualities.
The Cheshire and Warrington Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) is providing information and support to small and medium-sized businesses, with the council and LEP also liaising closely with larger businesses – including Vauxhall which has expressed serious concerns about the implications of a no-deal Brexit for the future of its Ellesmere Port operations.
Preparations are being made within the council’s available funding and powers, and a proactive approach is being taken to identify and mitigate the risks the borough would face in a no-deal scenario.
- Changes in trade conditions which may affect the manufacturing (including automotive), logistics and financial businesses of the borough.
- An increase in inflation which could significantly impact businesses supplying services to the council, including those caring for vulnerable people.
- An increased demand on regulatory services and trading standards as more checks would need to be conducted in the UK than had previously been conducted elsewhere in the EU.
- An impact on exports to the EU which local analysis has shown to be significantly higher than the UK average in Cheshire West and Chester.
- Logistical challenges in access to port and energy infrastructure.
- Influence on Cheshire West and Chester workforce and skills base, particularly in the care sector but also in retail, hospitality, manufacturing, construction and a whole host of others.
- Concerns for the borough’s population of non-UK EU citizens, who play a critical role in local communities and businesses.
EU citizens who live and work in the borough are being signposted to apply for the Government’s settlement scheme.
This will allow them and their families to secure their right to live and work in the UK and gain access to benefits and public services.
Cllr Louise Gittins, leader of Cheshire West and Chester Council, said: “We want to reassure businesses and communities that the Council and its partners are doing everything possible to reduce the risks. But I remain gravely concerned about a no-deal scenario.
“The impact of restrictions on our exporting industries to access international markets will put jobs at risk and could push us into a new and avoidable recession.
“The impact on Vauxhall in particular is a serious and urgent concern. The pressures on public services could be significant, with new burdens falling on the council and its partners.
“In particular, I want to express support for non-UK EU citizens, who play such a vital and positive role in our communities.”
A webpage has been set up on the council’s website to help signpost EU citizens, businesses, community and voluntary sector organisations, and schools and colleges to information on preparing for Brexit.
You can find this, and general information on the UK leaving the EU here.
WATCH: protestors gather outside Chester Town Hall on Wednesday 28th August to share their views on the government’s decision to suspend parliament.