No-deal Brexit will adversely affect ‘every single business and resident’ in Lancaster district, council warns

Lancaster Town Hall.
Lancaster Town Hall.

Half a million pounds has been set aside by Lancaster City Council to meet “risks” related to Brexit.

A recent city council meeting heard that financial modelling has anticipated reductions to Business Rates and Council Tax revenues for the local authority as a consequence of struggling businesses and families.

Coun Phil Black

Coun Phil Black

The locally designated body for coordinating a response to a No-Deal Brexit is the disaster and emergency planning body, the Lancashire Resilience Forum.

A million pounds has already been given to Heysham Port to help it prepare for Brexit, which the government says will happen on October 31.

Chancellor Sajid Javid has said a no-deal Brexit “may well happen” on October 31, despite a law aimed at avoiding it.

The law, known as the Benn Act, forces the government to ask for an extension to the Brexit deadline if a deal is not agreed by October 19, the day after a two-day EU summit.

Lancaster Town Hall

Lancaster Town Hall

At a full Lancaster City Council meeting on Wednesday September 25, a motion was passed decrying the prospect of a No-Deal Brexit and calling upon the government to take action to prevent it.

The motion laid out the potential difficulties facing Lancaster district’s community, with negative consequences impacting diverse interests from Heysham Port, the Universities, Power Stations, NHS service providers and virtually every type and size of business.

The impact affects everything from international shipping to school dinners, the council said.

Labour Coun for Skerton West Phillip Black, who proposed the motion said: “This motion was drafted in response to the government’s own guidance papers.

A No-Deal Brexit "will affect everything from international shipping to school meals"

A No-Deal Brexit "will affect everything from international shipping to school meals"

“They make the scale of disruption absolutely clear.

“Every single business, every single resident of our district will be adversely affected by a No-Deal Brexit. We had to speak out against it.”

Since the motion was submitted to the Chief Executive of the City Council, Operation Yellow Hammer documents have been published which Coun Black said underscored the validity of the council’s concerns.

In their briefing notes to City Councillors, officers highlighted the measures in place to deal with a No Deal Brexit Scenario.

This includes laying aside half a million pounds of the council’s reserve funding to meet ‘risks’ related to Brexit.

Leader of the City Council, Coun Dr Erica Lewis said: “That the planning for a no-deal Brexit is conducted through the LRF, a body that usually plans for emergencies, highlights how many risks a no-deal Brexit presents. Yet the government continues to push us towards a risky, no-deal Brexit, which the city council strongly opposes due to the likely detrimental impact it would have on our district, its businesses, communities and residents.

Coun Black added: “This isn’t about Leave vs Remain, anyone who tries to frame it as such is just stirring the pot.

“Leaving the EU without any deal, with no formal agreements at all, is simply madness.

“It would make life difficult for us all, and nearly impossible for those who are already struggling after nearly a decade of austerity measures.

“I’m immensely relieved that my colleagues on the Council agree, and that we have taken a stand to try and protect the communities we all care so much about.”

In the coming days the Chief Executive of Lancaster City Council will write to the Prime Minister, Brexit Minister and Minister for Local Government.

The letter will spell out the Council’s opposition to No-Deal and call upon the government to abide by the will of parliament and take whatever steps are necessary to rule out a No-Deal Brexit.