Suffolk councillors Andrew Stringer and Jack Abbott warn about Brexit
Brexit preparations in Suffolk are behind where they should be, county councillors have warned.
Labour and Green Party members have criticised central government for so far failing to agree a deal to leave the European Union. This has seen the authority embark on the time-consuming process of planning for all scenarios.
Councillor Andrew Stringer, leader of the Liberal Democrat, Green and Independent Group, said: “Through no fault of its own, the council is not where it should be - we are nine weeks away from leaving and it is an alarming situation.
“We are trying to plan for every circumstance of various deals, it is taking up far too much time when there are things we need to be doing.
“We would have thought the government would have got its act together by now. We are doing all we can but we don’t know what we are doing - it’s like watching the slowest car crash.”
The Green councillor for Upper Gipping added that the authority was ‘not so much out of the loop, but not sure what the loop is’ with the UK set to leave on March 29.
Suffolk, more than many counties, stands to be affected by Brexit with so much of the local economy driven by sectors that have EU regulations attached.
These include agriculture, manufacturing, construction, wind energy and sciences. Suffolk County Council joined with its Norfolk counterpart and the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership in commissioning the consultants Metro Dynamics to identify challenges.
Its report noted some of the largest employers in Bury St Edmunds, including British Sugar and Greene King, would feel changes.
Chris Bally, County Hall deputy chief executive, commented: “As part of our usual business, working with partners and providers, we are planning for the possible implications of Brexit and have been working on this for some time.
“We are working together with public sector organisations to ensure Suffolk is well placed to maximise opportunities and minimise risks arising from Brexit.”
The council’s Labour group, the opposition party to the ruling Conservative group is less optimistic.
Councillor Jack Abbott said: “We will not know the full ramifications of a no-deal Brexit until it happens but there are steps councils should be taking.
“Impacts of a no-deal Brexit include a major reduction of EU staff running vital public services and additional costs related to new tariffs on imports. The future of existing regulations regarding waste management, trading standards and environmental standards is also unclear under this scenario.
“Clearly, if councils see their expenditure increase whilst their income streams decrease, cuts to public services will be both inevitable and immediate after March 29.”