Wed, 16 Oct 2019
A NO-DEAL Brexit will have a disproportionate impact on low income families, councillors have been told.
Councillors were briefed at a meeting on September 24.
Shadow executive member for climate change Adrian Abbs (Lib Dem, Wash Common) spoke to the Newbury Weekly News after the briefing, which he said he was told was not confidential.
However council leader Lynne Doherty (Con, Speen) has since said the briefing was confidential.
The NWN understands that an investigation is under way into how slides were leaked to the press.
Mr Abbs said “there was some pretty scary stuff” in the briefing.
He added that some risks had been identified, although the risk assessment had not been shared with councillors.
He said that food and fuel shortages were considered low risk “because it will actually become a problem if panic buying ensues, but if normality ensues then we will probably be ok”
He said: “Food availability is going to be made worse by panic buying, there might be less choice and I’m sure there will be higher prices.
“They did identify that the people most affected would be lowest income people for food or fuel. There would be a disproportionate impact on low incomes.”
He said the council was monitoring supplies of medicine and veterinary medicines, which would impact on the local horse racing community.
He said: “One of the interesting things was there were several councillors who raised concerns over medicine.
“They had family or friends or knew someone experiencing shortages. If it was just one member you could understand, but more than one implies that something is already going on in the supply chain.”
Former Newbury mayor Margo Payne recently posted on social media that Boots’ Northbrook Street store was already experiencing shortages.
She said people had been unable to access certain drugs because of Brexit stockpiling, according to staff.
Mr Abbs, who voted Leave in the referendum, but has since changed his mind, said: “Nothing we were told was an upside. It was all what could or may go wrong.
“I got some level of confidence that they have put some effort in and there’s a bit of money.”
He added: “I changed my mind some time ago. If we are going to exit and just fall out with WTO, we need to be prepared."
The council has received £315,000 to help it prepare for Brexit, although Mr Abbs said that not a lot of it had been used so far.
The council’s chief executive Nick Carter is its designated Brexit officer and is leading the council’s Brexit steering group.
“They [the council] have done some level of preparation and they have got some money available, but we won’t know until we get there.”
Council leader Lynne Doherty (Con, Speen), whose portfolio includes Brexit, said she was being updated and briefed by chief executive Nick Carter and government departments.
Mrs Doherty said the briefing was part of a process to make sure that people were prepared.
She added there were “lots of coulds and woulds” in the slides and that the risk assessment looked at any potential impact.
Mrs Doherty also said that the leaked information out of context would send out the wrong message and prevent correct preparations.
Mrs Doherty said she would not like to comment on an investigation in the leak saying only that “somebody has breached the code of conduct. If someone is given something in good faith, you expect elected representatives to be able to respect that.”