Revealed – No-deal Brexit ‘highly likely’ to disrupt food, medicine and fuel in Suffolk
- Credit: Archant
Food prices, the adult care system and public order could all be disrupted in Suffolk under a no-deal Brexit, it has been revealed.
The county's no-deal Brexit plans have finally been published, with just over a month to go until Britain leaves the EU.
Papers published late on Friday afternoon by the 'Suffolk Resilience Forum' (SRF) - made up of a number of agencies including the police, ambulance service, district councils and county council - reveal there is a risk of public demonstrations and disorder, and a no-deal could also impact food, medicine, and fuel.
Travel, freight transfers and border control are also highly likely to be impacted, and there may be increased risks to information and data sharing.
It comes after the Government published its Yellowhammer document, outlining a series of "reasonable worst-case planning assumptions".
Soon after it was published, SRF chiefs said they were not yet ready to publish their no-deal Brexit plan.
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However, nearly a week later, the forum has now published its plan - here's what it could mean for you:
Demonstrations and disorder
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Although there is currently no police intelligence relating to disorder planned in Suffolk, the forum believes it is highly likely demonstrations and disorder will occur in the future. However, it says the relative impact on Suffolk is 'minor'.
Disruption to services
According to the SRF's 'risk chart', disruption to services - particularly food, medicine and fuel - is high, but the impact is expected to be minor.
Fuel disruption due to traffic congestion should only be for limited periods, the Suffolk planners write in their report.
It may also be "exacerbated" by public behaviour.
The SRF has a fuel plan in place for such events, though this is yet to be made publicly available.
A reduction in food choice is likely.
However, no shortages are predicted at the moment.
An increase in prices may have an impact on low income groups, Suffolk planners wrote.
In terms of their response to this particular issue, the forum said there is a national benefits system in place for people on low income - and no further action is required from the group.
NHS England are leading the response on this nationally, SRF chiefs said. They are taking no further action on this at the moment.
Adult social care provision
There is a plan in place, also put together by the forum, for the potential failure of the adult care service.
Travel, freight and borders
Meetings with the Port of Felixstowe have confirmed no risks needing additional planning for port congestion. The forum has drawn up a 'stack' plan in the event of a closure of the port to large goods vehicles.
This summarises the agreed arrangements for this scenario, and aims to:
- Prepare key parts of the community likely to be affected by the closure through the provision of advice and information
- Provide accurate and timely information to public and local business on closure events
- Manage the wider impact of highways response activity to reduce disruption
Information and data sharing
Suffolk planners have been reassured by national agencies that communications companies are doing everything possible to keep data paths open.
At the moment, no action is required but guidance has been passed to individual responders - particularly emergency services - about understanding potential risks.
These services are being urged to take appropriate action to mitigate these risks.
'No clear strategy'
This morning, Labour's Jack Abbott criticised the report as "flimsy".
He said: "Our country is potentially a matter of weeks away from a damaging no-deal Brexit, but this contingency plan looks like it was cobbled together over a few hours.
"It outlines a number of risks to Suffolk, but there is little analysis and no clear strategy about what the response would be should all these scenarios come to pass at once.
He added: "It casually talks of failure in the adult care service without exploring the subject in any detail, instead citing a 'business continuity plan'.
"This is a flimsy local plan struggling to come to terms with a Conservative-inflicted national disaster - it will be our residents who have to pay the price, once again."
'Aiming for minimal disruption'
Simon Megicks, chair of the SRF and assistant chief constable, said there is a great deal of activity going on behind the scenes to ensure Suffolk is as well-placed as it can be for a no-deal Brexit.
"Suffolk Resilience Forum is planning for Brexit as it does for other risks in the county," he said.
"Emergency planning and business continuity is business-as-usual for the SRF. We are told that leaving the EU with a deal remains the Government's top priority. However, a responsible resilience forum must plan for every eventuality, including a 'no deal' scenario. We are aiming for minimal disruption to our front-line services.
"We are preparing for the operational impact of a no deal Brexit. We have no intelligence to suggest a rise in crime or disorder, but we are considering worst case scenarios provided by the Government to inform our planning.
He added: "There shouldn't be any need for members of the public to act differently or change their consumer habits."