Brexit preparedness update

Assurances have been given that Powys County Council is doing all it can to protect itself from the negative impacts of Brexit.

Councillor Rosemarie Harris
Councillor Rosemarie Harris

With just over a month ago until the Brexit transition period ends, the issue was brought up for discussion at a meeting of the Economy, Residents, Communities and Governance scrutiny committee, on Thursday, November 19.

Brexit, and its implications continues to be a risk that figures prominently on the council’s Strategic Risk Register, scored at a “catastrophic purple 16”.

After action is taken to soften its affects, the risk is still deemed to score a high “major red 12.”

Council Leader, Councillor Rosemarie Harris, told the committee: “Things are speeding up a bit. We’ve been to a meeting with the (Welsh Government) Consul General, Jeremy Miles MS, who is as helpful as he possibly can be, but as we all know there’s just very little information to share.”

Councillor Harris said that she had shared research on Brexit by the Grant Thornton company on behalf of the Welsh Government which revealed some “stark figures” for Wales with the other council group leaders.

The research suggests that if there’s no trade deal, Wales would see 19 per cent reduction in exports, which is the equivalent of losing £3.5 billion a year.

Councillor Harris, added that her concern was about the level of Brexit preparedness of small businesses in Powys, as they have been “preoccupied by Covid”.

“They haven’t had a chance to look at what they need to be doing, there will be help on offer from Welsh Government,” said Councillor Harris.

Committee chairman, Councillor Mathew Dorrance said: “Time is ticking and information very quickly gets out of date.”

He asked for more details on how the council was specifically managing the risk to itself?

Director of Environment and Economy, Nigel Brinn, said: “We’re desperate for details as are our suppliers, and their suppliers.

“There’s uncertainty around the whole process, I feel we’re doing everything we can in a very challenging position.”

He added that the most important thing is that the two groups the council has on Brexit, one internal and the other external, all get to see the latest guidance and work together.

Cllr Jeremy Pugh (Action for Powys – Builth) told the meeting that he believed that Brexit would be an opportunity to revive the construction industry in Powys, providing jobs for the next generation.

Brexit talks on securing a trade deal with the European Union (EU) have been hampered.

This is because a member of the EU negotiating team tested positive for coronavirus.

Due to this the rest of the team have had to self-isolate.

Discussions have taken place by video link between the EU and UK negotiating teams to find out when face to face talks can resume.

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