Bridgend Council: Ready for Brexit?

With around two weeks to go until the UK is supposed to leave the EU, thanks to the monumental incompetence of the UK Government we still have absolutely no idea on what terms the UK going to do so or even precisely when (should Article 50 be extended).

Like it or not, Bridgend Council will have to prepare for all eventualities. The Cabinet is due to discuss Brexit preparations at their meeting tomorrow (pdf). The default (legal) position at the moment is that the UK will leave without a deal on March 29th, regardless of votes in the UK Parliament.

What are the potential risks to the council?

The full risk assessment was provided as an appendix (pdf).

Lower risk

  • Powers currently exercised by local authorities under EU law may be kept from Wales by the UK Government.
  • Access to certain types of data and information could be disrupted under a “No Deal”.
  • A lack of clarity over the council’s role at Porthcawl harbour – there’s the possibility passports might have to be checked (I know that sounds silly, but it’s technically an entry-exit point).
  • The council could lose funding for EU projects even where they’ve been guaranteed by the UK Government.
  • Possible loss of staff and skills from BCBC employees who are EU citizens.
  • A lack of awareness amongst local businesses on the impact of Brexit and fewer town-twinning activities.
  • EU subsidies for school milk could change if not otherwise guaranteed by the Welsh or UK governments.
  • Issues relating to EU nationals in the social care system – though this is said to be very low numbers of people (if any at all).

Moderate risk

  • A number of key council documents will need to be revised to mark the move from EU to UK or Welsh law.
  • Rules governing state aid will become “uncertain”.
  • An economic downturn, further austerity and the possibility of mass redundancies.
  • Delays to exports of recyclables and changes to the waste market which could cause problems for Kier.
  • Staffing problems in the health, retail and social care sectors.
  • The electoral roll will be inaccurate as of 30th March as EU citizens will lose their right to vote in local elections under a “No Deal” – though a new law has been tabled in the Senedd to change this.
  • A possible rise in community tensions, negative impact on modern foreign languages in schools and agitation by the far-right.

Highest risk

  • Food supply disruptions to schools and care homes and general supply problems for the council.
  • Additional emergency planning and a general increase in workloads amongst BCBC staff in preparing for Brexit.
  • No replacement employability programme once the current one ends in 2020.
  • No replacement for EU structural funds once a UK Government guarantee ends in 2020.
  • Rules on environmental health and trading standards are governed by the EU and will immediately cease to apply on March 29th under a “No Deal”.

What have the council done?

A Brexit advisory forum has been set up, while the risk register is described as a “live document” – meaning it’s updated regularly as the situation changes. The focus has been on “immediate and short-term risks”, while long-term and medium-term risks have been placed on the back boiler for the time being.

Based on the report, it’s clear BCBC know what the potential problems are. However, there are no details on the potential financial cost to the council as the situation on Brexit presently remains unclear.

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