Taxpayers could face bill for Brexit port food check changes
- Credit: Archant
Brexit responsibilities could leave Tendring council out of pocket, taxpayers have been warned.
Councillors heard that Tendring District Council’s responsibilities to check for food standards at Harwich are expected to be self-financing, but given the strength of the road haulage association lobby that should not be accepted as a given.
Currently the imported food control at Tendring ports is carried out by Suffolk Coastal Port Health Authority (SCPHA) on behalf of Tendring Port Health Authority – there are around 527 lorries and trailers incoming at Harwich daily, carrying a total of around 7,700 tonnes of goods.
Imported food control is a low scale service as the majority of incoming goods are from the EU and not subjected to any checks or inspection regime.
But at 11pm on New Year’s Eve this year all goods coming into the UK from the EU will be subject to exactly the same rules as those arriving from anywhere else in the world.
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Currently around only 23 types of consignments meet the criteria. From July 2021 it is estimated that up to 22,334 import consignments will contain products subject to port health controls.
As part of the EU exit transition arrangements and proposed EU border arrangements from January 2021, a joint bid has been submitted between East Suffolk Council and Tendring District Council for £1.8million from the Port Health Authority Transition Fund.
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This funding will be used to support the transition arrangements, including upscaling the port health functions at both Harwich and Felixstowe.
But Harwich councillor Ivan Henderson told the council’s cabinet the cost to the council is a worry.
In order to undertake the increased requirements, SCPHA has estimated it needs to employ around 60 extra staff across Harwich and Felixstowe, 40 of whom will need specialist training/qualifications.
Mr Henderson said: “We are talking about a £2.1million additional cost for the supply of these resources and we are talking about it being self financing.
“But the document also talks about the government setting the charges regime.
“From my experience of how strong the haulage association lobby is, if the government set those charges lower than the cost to us to resource this facility we could be out of pocket.”