This report draws on the sectoral analysis undertaken by the Government to assist Members to understand the potential impact of Brexit on the Council and the people of Medway.
Members considered a report which drew on the sectoral analysis undertaken by the Government to assist Members to understand the potential impact of Brexit on the Council and the people of Medway.
With regard to whether the Council should assess the possible impacts of Brexit on Medway, there were differing views amongst Members. Some Members made the point that, in view of the uncertainty about Brexit at a national level, it would be better to wait and see what emerged before attempting to assess the potential impacts on Medway. A Member commented that officer time on assessing risks would be wasted unless the risks were specific to Medway but NHS organisations and businesses in Medway should be asked for their views on the possible impacts.
Other Members argued that, as the United Kingdom would be leaving the EU on 29 March 2019, there were many practical issues the Council could and should prepare for. The decision to leave the EU was hugely significant for the country and, accepting the uncertainty surrounding it, the Council should be preparing for it. The possible impacts on Council employees, suppliers reliant on the EU, trade, agriculture and infrastructure providers could be significant and the affected sectors would be looking for some assurance from the Council. The risks to Medway were known and the Council should be showing some leadership. The point was made that there was no organisational memory of a world where the UK functioned outside of the EU.
A Member commented it would be a concern if officers had not started to look at the possible impact on Medway. Members were advised that officers were keeping a watching brief on the possible impacts of Brexit, which included reviewing other organisations’ assessments and their scenario planning as well as discussing specific issues in professional networks. Some Members commented that this offered a degree of reassurance but it would be preferable if all of this internal work was brought together in order to give some confidence to the public. A Member made the point that anything published should not be scaremongering in nature. A Member argued that the watching brief position taken by officers was as much as could be undertaken in the circumstances and it was impossible to cover all eventualities.
Referring to the “call for information” from the Local Government Association, officers clarified, in response to a question, that the Council had not made a submission.
In response to whether anyone from the Council would be attending the meeting of the Key Cities Group in November to discuss Brexit, officers undertook to establish if anyone was attending.
The Committee agreed to:
a) note the advice and guidance issued by the Government in preparation for the conclusion of the Brexit negotiations, and noting that officers are keeping a watching brief on issues in relation to Brexit, recommend that Cabinet:
i) ask officers to compile a brief, public document which assesses the potential impacts of Brexit on those sectors relevant to Medway’s economic, social and educational priorities, recognising that much of this information will already exist in current Council policies and strategies, and also;
ii) seek the views of the Council’s suppliers on what they consider to be the potential impacts of Brexit on them.