The UK left the EU on 31st January 2020 and entered a transition period which is scheduled to end on 31st December 2020. With only a few weeks to go a report on Dumfries and Galloway Council’s planning for Brexit will be presented to Members of Dumfries and Galloway Full Council on 17 December.
There remains ongoing uncertainty surrounding the EU Exit which poses significant challenges and concerns for both Public and Private Sector. UK/EU negotiations continuing this close to the end of the transition period means that there is little time for agencies or businesses to fully prepare for whatever deal is agreed.
Dumfries and Galloway is a key strategic location for the movement of goods between Northern Ireland and Great Britain. The Council has been actively highlighting to Government the risks this poses locally for some considerable time.
Whilst Ferry Traffic and the strategic road network are not our direct responsibility, we have been highlighting the need for and working with partners to move forward a multi-agency contingency plan to mitigate disruption as a member of the Local Resilience Partnership. We are also mindful of the potential changes to Regulatory activities associated with the movement of goods.
Discussions are ongoing between Transport Scotland and Stair Estates to secure the lease for the site at Castle Kennedy. It would not be appropriate for the Council to make further comment on legal negotiations we are not directly involved with. In parallel, local LRP Partners including Council, Police and Fire have been working with Transport Scotland and Ferry Operators to develop the supporting plan. We will continue to work with partners in the run up to the end of the transition period and beyond to mitigate any potential risks.
Over the past couple of years, the Council has established a ‘UK Exiting the EU Group’ which includes Heads of Service and Resilience and Community Safety Officers, amongst others. The Group consider the Council’s planning assumptions and reviews and updates the assumptions as new information and guidance is published. Although dependent on the flow of information from UK Government and Scottish Government, the group evaluate the risks to the region, primarily through our Port at Cairnryan, but also through the wider effects of increased transport, increased costs for the public and businesses, food availability and food safety, funding and settlement for people.
In addition to consideration of the above assumptions Services across the Council are continuing to review Business Continuity Plans for core business and with consideration to the impacts of the UK leaving the EU.
Leader of Dumfries and Galloway Council, Elaine Murray said: “Significant uncertainty remains, providing challenges for both the Public Sector and the Private Sector across the UK. In matters related to planning for EU Exit, local authorities are reliant on the flow of information from UK Government and Scottish Government. Unfortunately, delays in the flow of information have affected the Council’s ability to assess the risks and plan accordingly. However, we continue to work with both Governments in addition to our Local Resilience Partners, to have as much planning in place as possible to ease any disruption.
The impacts and implications of EU Exit will be felt well beyond the end of the transition period. The Council remains concerned about the implications of the need for Regulatory Checks on Goods coming in from Northern Ireland.”
Depute Leader, Rob Davidson said: “In terms of Business activity, and in turn a potential economic downturn, it is clear that Coronavirus has impacted on businesses’ ability to prepare for the end of the transition period. The wider economic impacts, particularly where the impacts may be felt by low income groups, and the challenges for local businesses will remain a significant ongoing concern, as will the way forward for future funding to replace EU funding.
This will not be an easy transition, but, from an Economic perspective, the Council is a key member of the South of Scotland Regional Economic Partnership along with peer authorities and agencies and we are considering the Economic and business impacts of EU Exit as part of our work.”
To read the full report go to: https://dumfriesgalloway.moderngov.co.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=137&MId=4996