No plans for stockpiling in Suffolk amid Brexit question marks, leaders confirm

Stephen Baker, chief executive of Waveney and Suffolk Coastal Council.

Stephen Baker, chief executive of Waveney and Suffolk Coastal Council.

There are no plans to stockpile resources in Suffolk in response to concerns over the impact of Brexit, council leaders have said.

Following prime minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal announcement which will be voted on in the House of Commons, the Suffolk Public Sector Leaders group of local authority chief executives, alongside police, local enterprise partnership (LEP) and clinical commissioning groups, met to discuss the potential effects of Brexit locally.

Stephen Baker, chief executive of Waveney and Suffolk Coastal district councils, said officers from across the county were working with businesses to understand the key issues.

“It’s a very fast moving agenda,” he said.

“The sorts of things are the level of local staff now and post-Brexit, what’s the impact on our care industry, the ports, qualified vets, what’s the impact of regulatory services like trading standards.

“The LEP has been doing a lot of work and certainly the feedback they are getting in chambers of commerce is while the big businesses are sorting themselves out, it’s the small and medium enterprises and micro businesses that are struggling.”

Mr Baker admitted that with Brexit still “a bit of an unknown quantity”, it was difficult for firms to plan - but said it was important to make sure Suffolk was aware of the issues across the county, regardless of whether the UK leaves the European Union with a deal or without.

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Resilience forums are also discussing the issue.

Mr Baker confirmed that no supplies, such as pharmaceutical products, were being stockpiled.

He added: “My concern is to make sure we are ready and prepared to make sure we can deliver the services that we deliver.”

It is understood discussions with firms will continue, with further preparations set to be made as a firmer picture develops over the course of the first three months of 2019.

Concerns have already been voiced at various council meetings about the impact on the Port of Felixstowe, how Suffolk’s agricultural industry will cope if access to seasonal workers from abroad is complicated and the sourcing of staff in the medical profession.

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