Sunderland City Council continues Brexit planning ahead of Halloween deadline for leaving EU

City chiefs have assured the public Brexit preparations are ‘well advanced’ following government’s call to beef up no-deal planning.

By James Harrison
Thursday, 15 August, 2019, 01:16
Sunderland Civic Centre

Over the weekend, ministers issued instructions demanding councils across the country be ‘fully prepared’ for the UK to leave the EU by Halloween – the current exit deadline.

And as well as setting aside an extra £10million to help preparations, Westminster has also decreed every local authority should have a designated ‘Brexit lead’ to oversee efforts and coordinate with national strategy.

“The council confirmed earlier this year that its Chief Officers’ Group was overseeing Brexit planning,” said Coun Graeme Miller, leader of Sunderland City Council.

“Since then the lead officer for Brexit for the council has been the assistant director of economic policy, who leads a small team of officers and plans are well-advanced.

“Preparations will continue up to and beyond the date when the UK exits the EU, including implications for staffing roles and responsibilities, and for the public and businesses.”

The latest government directive on plans for a potential no-deal Brexit was issued by the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government.

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This claimed £20million would be put towards supporting ‘a range of activity including communications, training and the recruitment of staff’ – although it was later confirmed half of this cash had already been promised to councils earlier this year.

In January then communities secretary James Brokenshire, who was replaced on Boris Johnson’s first day as Prime Minister, unveiled a £56.6 million fund to help local authorities with Brexit planning, of which DCC expected to receive about £210,000.

A further £10million was to be put aside to cover ‘specific local costs that may only become evident in the months after we exit the EU’.

Current Communities and Local Government Secretary Robert Jenrick said: “Local government has a vital role in helping to make Brexit a success and it is absolutely right that together we intensify preparations in every community.”

He added: “I want all of us – central and local government – to be fully prepared for leaving the EU on 31 October whatever the circumstances.

“I know that we can achieve this, by continuing to work side by side with renewed national focus and intensity.”