Northamptonshire's Brexit planning revealed

Northamptonshire's public bodies have been meeting for months to plan for Brexit.
Northamptonshire's public bodies have been meeting for months to plan for Brexit.

Officials making Brexit preparations for Northamptonshire have been looking at the possible impact on public disorder, workforce shortages, food and medicine supply and transport issues.

Officials making Brexit preparations for Northamptonshire have been looking at the possible impact on public disorder, workforce shortages, food and medicine supply and transport issues.

Over the past few months the county’s local councils, police and health agencies have been coming up with plans to make sure services in the county continue to run as smoothly as possible in the face of Britain leaving the EU.

The Government has given councils across the country funds to deal with the impact, with Northamptonshire County Council receiving £87,500 for Brexit planning so far.

The local authority however has not made the report publicly available because it says the documents are ‘officially sensitive’.

A report to be considered by the county’s two clinical commissioning groups later this afternoon (April 16) highlights the concerns about the impact of a departure from the EU on the social care workforce, many of whom are EU nationals.

It said ‘there remains a significant uncertainty as to the long-term impact on the UK’s exit from the EU on the social care workforce. Northamptonshire County Council has invited care home and domiciliary providers to workshops to highlight the risks.”

The CCG has been providing information to the Midlands and East EU Exit Team and had said it had ‘appropriate processes’ in place to manage if a no deal scenario had happened. All of the county’s main NHS providers such as the acute hospitals, Northamptonshire Healthcare Foundation Trust and the East Midlands Ambulance Service had also completed an assurance document and had been rated as ‘compliant’. The main risks had been to do with workforce and data sharing.

The report highlights the problems with planning for Brexit in the light of the current deadlock in Parliament. No deal planning preparations had been a key part of the work taking place, but the immediate risk now appears to have lessened after the EU gave Britain an extended leave deadline of October 31.

If there had been a no-deal Brexit the county council, as lead of Northamptonshire’s Local Resilience Forum, would have likely have set up a temporary sit cell – a military term used in emergency planning – at One Angel Square in Northampton ‘ to support and supply the receipt of information from Government’. This would have operated daily and transmitted messages from Government to the relevant agencies.

A report that went before East Northants Council recently was critical of the Government’s communications with local councils about Brexit.

It said: “The main difficulty is knowing what we are planning for, with little or no direction coming from the Government and its ministries.

“With this lack of clarity, the council and all relevant agencies in Northamptonshire have considered the possible risks to be: public disorder, workforce shortages, food/fuel/medicine supply chain issues, transport issues.”

According to the East Northants Council report Brexit may have placed demands on the authorities’ environmental health officers to support interim ‘port health arrangements’. It did not forsee road congestion but said there could have been an impact on waste disposal arrangements because of fuel pressures.

However, it said the Government had said fuel shortages were not predicted and that arrangements were being put in place to maintain waste exports.