Kent looks to Whitehall to fund Brexit pressures

28 Jan 19

The council that is home to one of England’s key commercial ports is pinning its hopes on central government funding to ensure it can cope with Brexit pressures.

Kent County Council, which includes the port of Dover, is in the process of calculating the costs of Brexit contingency planning and will seek to have these costs covered by central government, it has told PF.

A council spokesperson said: “KCC is updating all business continuity plans across all services to reflect greatest impact scenarios. It is developing business impact analyses and costing all preparations.

“Additional costs once understood and co-ordinated will be submitted to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government’s funding allocation of £35m, and to other relevant government departments.”

A document published by the council in December outlined its plans, which included diverting freight traffic to nearby Manston Airport’s runway in order to ease traffic pressures.

Discussing the prospect of a no-deal Brexit, Kent told PF it would be “very difficult to predict the impact it will have”.

It said: “The main concerns will be in the event of congestion on approaches to Port of Dover and the Channel Tunnel and any resultant implications for the wider road network.”

The council noted that congestion could have implications for staff getting to work and may affect service delivery in areas like social care and schools.

Clive Betts, chair of the Commons housing, communities and local government committee, told PF that the £35m MHCLG has been allocated for 2019-20 is not going to be “anything like enough”.

Betts also highlighted the fact that councils will not have access to the £35m fund until the beginning of the 2019-20 financial year, in April.

He said: “Councils haven’t got anything for this year – they have just been left to get on with it.”

Julia Goldsworthy, chair of CIPFA’s Brexit advisory commission, warned in December that councils should begin preparations for any kind of Brexit.

PF reveals today councils are drawing up Brexit contingency plans - but are expecting to have to dip into reserves if they have to put them into action

In November, the Public Accounts Committee warned that UK ports could face major disruptions after Brexit because the Department for Transport has not prepared for a no-deal scenario.  

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