Fears food supply issues in Calderdale 'could develop quickly' after Brexit

Calderdale Council will continue to identify and manage the risks and impacts of the United Kingdom leaving the European Union,
Calderdale Council will continue to identify and manage the risks and impacts of the United Kingdom leaving the European Union,

Potential food supply issues after Brexit might not happen the day after leaving but would soon develop very quickly, believes the leader of Calderdale Council.

Cabinet voted to continue the work being undertaken by the council to identify and manage the risks and impacts of the United Kingdom leaving the European Union, although Coun Tim Swift (Lab, Town) said it was still not clear whether the UK would leave the EU on October 31 or on what basis.

But the council would do what you would expect any responsible council to do and reflect on what impacts might be, he said.

The report set out various options and since Boris Johnson became Prime Minister it had been an explicit requirement to make specific plans for the indications of leaving with no deal, said Coun Swift.

Calderdale had appointed a lead Brexit officer – Zohrah Zancudi – and officers, and the report before Cabinet set out the impacts and started to identify some mitigations the council feels it could put in place, said Coun Swift.

“Three things identified are very specific risks that are very high risks and we are making sure we have got specific actions we will put in place as they transpire,” he said.

These potentially included services around health and medical issues, and indications were some had already appeared.

Concerns around a food crisis might not happen by November 1, but could develop very quickly, said Coun Swift.

The third factor was the “unknown unknowns”, he said.

But the council had shown it had a track record of working with partners to deal with unexpected events, for example the 2015 Boxing Day floods, said Coun Swift.

Coun Susan Press (Lab, Todmorden) said the report was “quite scary” with people already experiencing difficulties in local pharmacies “and that is before we leave”.

There were also concerns about food supply and the cost of food.

“Frankly, I found them very frightening, so it helps a little bit that Calderdale is taking this very seriously and taking on problems we might face,” she said.

Impacts the report considers, with assessment of likely impacts for “New Deal” and “No Deal” Brexit, cover capacity of government and civil service to meet other demands, external funding which relies on EU funds, business and economy impacts, workforce and skills (both council and system), community cohesion and migration, impact on local democracy, health supplies and services.