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BREXIT: possible impact on West Berkshire revealed

Councillors briefed on impact to schools, medicines, food and fuel

Local Democracy Reporter Alex Seabrook

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SCHOOLS closed, waste left uncollected, care homes shut down: this is what could happen in West Berkshire after Brexit, according to leaked council documents. 

Shortages of food, medicine, and fuel are other risks, as well as increases in hate crime, criminal damage and theft. 

This is according to slides from a confidential briefing given to councillors at West Berkshire Council, which have been obtained by the Local Democracy Reporting Service. 

The Members EU Exit Briefing slides list the ‘risks to the council and community’.

‘Fuel shortages due to panic buying’ could lead to staff unable to get to work, disruption to food and medicine supply chains, waste left uncollected, and schools closing. 

Panic buying of food could lead to less choice and higher prices, which the slides say would disproportionately impact on vulnerable people and those on a low income. The council is ‘engaging with food banks’. 

One slide is titled ‘law and order’, which warns of increasing hate crime, less tolerance and increased community tensions, and increases in criminal damage and theft. The council and Thames Valley Police have ‘protocols for these types of incidents’. 

The briefing also warned of a ‘potential shortage of supply of some medication’, and increased ‘infection risks’ from shortages of key supplies. The council is ‘planning for pandemic preparedness’. 

There is also a risk that care homes could shut down due to staffing concerns. This was echoed in the government’s Operation Yellowhammer document. 

A ‘knock-on staffing issue’ could result from EU staff leaving the council, as well as contractors who support the council and schools.

On agriculture, the slides simply say ‘guidance is available’ for farmers facing export issues and for the impact on the horseracing community. However, the availability of veterinary medicines ‘is not now considered an issue’. 

The presentation ends with saying the council has funding and coordination in place, it is ‘focusing on the higher risks’ and is ‘flexible to deal with the unknowns’. 

According to the slides, West Berkshire Council is focusing on the six to 12 weeks after a no-deal Brexit, and £315,000 of funding has been put aside for mitigating these risks. 

Martin Dunscombe, council spokesman, said: “Like all local authorities, we have been working for some time to plan and prepare for Brexit. The council is taking a coordinated approach to planning by making sure that we work closely across teams and with external suppliers.

“This ensures the continuity of services for businesses and residents. We are also in regular communication with other agencies in the region and nationally to ensure efficient planning and response processes are in place.

“Last week, we updated our elected councillors on our preparations for Brexit. This included discussion about different scenarios as detailed on the slides, many of which were ‘worst case’. Members were advised during the session of all the work being done to mitigate those risks.

“Importantly, it sought to reassure councillors that plans were advised and the risks being managed. As our communities would expect us to do, we will continue to prepare for known and emerging issues in line with our existing business continuity plans.” 

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Article comments

  • NewburyLad

    03/10/2019 - 15:35

    What a load of festering crap. Besides, you in the council/political arena HAVE HAD 3 YEARS TO PREPARE FOR US LEAVING so why haven't you done a thing. Of course the truth is this is just a pack of lies to scare the public.


    • grumbert

      03/10/2019 - 21:33

      So everyone is lying ? Every economic forecast is wrong , even the governments? You are blinded by zealotry.


    • NoisyNortherner

      03/10/2019 - 16:36

      How can anyone prepare when the definition of "leaving" has changed so many times? First it was Norway+, EEA, Regulatory Alignment, Irish Sea border, no deal etc. Face it, the "Bad Boys of Brexit" didn't have a bloody clue what they were doing because nobody realistically thought they'd win. Leave have had more than 3 years to come up with realistic workable proposals that don't end up with people dying from a lack of medication and what have we got? A half baked effort from the idiot in chief, and no way forward.


  • brunin the bear

    03/10/2019 - 09:05

    ARGH, Panic in the streets. No, keep calm and carry on, it's going to be beautiful. :)


    • NoisyNortherner

      03/10/2019 - 09:22

      Name one tangible benefit to this whole fiasco. I'll wait.


  • newburywolf

    02/10/2019 - 18:38

    Riddled with 'could's and 'potential for's. The govts Operation Yellowhammer doc was to plan for worst case scenarios. If they hadn't, they would be slated by the media for not preparing. Another piece of media hype promoting PROJECT FEAR, until you get right to the end. Has anyone told the media the The Boy Who Cried Wolf story?


    • NoisyNortherner

      03/10/2019 - 09:21

      The Yellowhammer report was re-titled as the worst case scenario after originally being called a reasonable expectation of what to expect. If that was the case, why did the government try so hard to hide it? Also, what media are you reading? The majority of the rags, and even some of the broadsheets, are fully behind the destructo-government on this, despite the obvious risks.


      • NewburyResident

        03/10/2019 - 15:11

        So in the Yellowhammer it predicted an increased chance of Riots. Does this mean that the Remain voters are seen as lawless an will take action? Do they not invisage that if the Democratic vote is ignored that there might be a similar level of rioting by those who do not feel their voice was heard? Maybe it just more useful for those who don't want to implement the will of the people to use as an excuse!


        • NoisyNortherner

          03/10/2019 - 15:24

          If memory serves, it touted civil unrest as a possible issue. But that could be caused by any combination of other factors. Food and medicine shortages, job losses etc. Yes, there's every possibility that there would be riots as a result of leaving, but it wouldn't be the only factor. I think what you lot are forgetting as well is that while 52% voted to leave, there's still a sizeable minority who didn't want to. That 48% have been basically ignored for the past 3 years and been told "you lost, get over it". Is it any surprise that there's so much hostility between the two sides? A sensible compromise to leave Europe might well have passed had May not set her red lines in stone, and the ludicrous notion that 52% voted for no deal hadn't taken hold, but here we are. It doesn't matter what happens either way, there's going to be approximately half the country who will be pissed off.


        • NewburyResident

          03/10/2019 - 16:43

          Indeed approx hal will be pissed off at the Brexit deliverable and almost 100% pissed off at the way politicians on both sides have acted!