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Getting ‘well prepared’ – Cheshire West and Chester Council sets up Brexit commission

NOTE: This content is old - Published: Monday, Sep 17th, 2018.

A cross-party commission is being set up to ensure Cheshire West and Chester Council is ‘well prepared’ for the implications of Brexit.

During Wednesday’s Cabinet meeting, members agreed to form the policy commission to plan for the potential impact, risks and opportunities ahead.

The group – which will meet four times from October to next March – will be supported by officers to develop practical recommendations to ensure the council is prepared for ‘a post-Brexit future’, as well as to develop an appropriate action plan for future activities.

It is due to be chaired by Cllr Karen Shore, Cabinet member for environment.

Leader Cllr Samantha Dixon said:

“The proposal set out in this paper is to agree a cross-party commission to ensure that the council is well prepared for the EU withdrawal.

I was keen for Cheshire West and Chester Council to establish a cross-party working group to enable us to better understand these issues and their potential impact on our borough and our residents.

It is proposed the group will focus on priority issues to identify areas for further consideration.”

But Cllr Lynn Riley told the Cabinet it would have been ‘sensible’ for the commission to have been established earlier.

She added: “I would put a hearty request in to Cllr Shore that we reflect, in the first session that is indicated in the report, on the agricultural nature of Cheshire.

Unfortunately, the rural nature of Cheshire is very often overlooked and plays a very significant part in the economy.

Looking forward, food security is going to be a key consideration.

I wouldn’t want, once again, the agricultural sector to be overlooked.

Similarly, I think there has been a lot of speculation around drugs and, particularly, the life sciences sector.

With the strength in Cheshire East, particularly around the Alderley Park side of things, I would hope that there is real opportunity there to look at some very pragmatic opportunities that might exist with different parts of the world, like Zurich, where there are very strong tie-ups and very significant opportunities.”

Cllr Dixon responded and said she believes it is ‘really important’ the commission has been set up.

She added: “The reason it hasn’t been established to date is because of the lack of clarity from the centre about what the deal would be.

“I think the commission needs to consider all possible outcomes, including no deal.”

Is Flintshire Ready?

Flintshire County Council was asked if it has produced any Brexit impact studies, and whilst it says it doesn’t have specific Brexit plans in place there are business continuity plans which could be triggered due to the impact of Brexit.

Gareth Owens, Chief Officer Governance said;

“The council does not have a specific plan for handling the impacts of leaving the European Union as such.  

Brexit is an event that will have a number of consequences any of which might trigger implications for the delivery of council services.

The Council has business continuity plans (BCPs) and they contain a number of risks that might be potential consequences of Brexit, for example a shortage of staff.”

Mr Owens said risks are covered but “there are many predictions as to what will be the full consequences of Brexit. It is clear that there will be a number of different consequences.”

“However there is an absence of any reliable evidence or meaningful predictions as to what the precise consequences will be or their exact extent.”

Our plans therefore do not name Brexit as a specific risk, and deal instead, with known risks some of which may be influenced by the Brexit process.”

By Aran Dhillon – Local Democracy Reporter & Deeside.com

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