With a no-deal Brexit becoming increasingly more likely, Newcastle City Council have expressed their concerns. These include the increased use of food banks, a struggle for residents to pay bills and increased community tensions and disorder.
In response to this, labour council leader, Nick Forbes, has unveiled ‘Operation Yellowhammer’, which is Newcastle’s prevention against the ‘full scale emergency’ that Brexit could bring.
Plans have been put into place for worst-case scenarios. These highlight the potential disruption of fuel supplies, which would prohibit the council’s ability to carry out basic services, such as bin collections and road repairs.
Forbes has rejected the support given to local authorities by the government, claiming that it is “simply not enough”. He highlights the desperate need for more cash to help “ “cope with what will be a full-scale emergency impacting on all our residents”.
The no-deal summary document draws attention to the social consequences of this political decision. It states that, due to a price rise in utilities and services, low income families will be the most affected. On a more general scale, the council will suffer from increased pressure, due to more food bank facilities being required; on an individual level, people may be unable to pay council tax and business rates.
Some have argued that the plan has come “too little to late”
In an attempt to mitigate such devastating effects, the North East Local Enterprise Partnership has developed the region’s response to Brexit. This includes, firstly, the creation of an online Brexit toolkit to provide support and finance to businesses; and secondly, it includes research into alternative trade mechanisms and weekly reporting to the Department for Industrial Strategy. The authority claims that they still have the resources to cope with the fluctuation of expats returning to the country, including providing sufficient housing facilities for all. More support has also been made available to European citizens to help them access the EU Settlement scheme, which is currently being overwhelmed. This is leading to longer waiting times.
The head of the North of Tyne Brexit Taskforce has stated that “Newcastle is proud to be a welcoming city so we have been working hard to support EU residents to apply for settled status and will redouble our efforts in the event of No Deal”.
However, the plan has received backlash, namely from Newcastle’s Lib-Dem opponents stating that it is “too little too late from a complacent administration”, who previously declared that time could not be wasted “navel-gazing” about Brexit.
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Last modified: 20th October 2019