In today’s article ‘Portsmouth After Brexit: What Do We Know?’, S&C Community Reporter Rosy Bremer looks at work undertaken to prepare the city for Brexit by the last and current council adminstrations. In this companion piece, Sarah Cheverton looks through reports on the impact of Brexit on 5 local services, written by managers in Portsmouth City Council.
In all of the discussions and reports outlined in Rosy Bremer’s article today, the impact of Brexit on council services receive scant mention, beyond a potential shortage of key workers in the city. However, a bit of digging through Council reports gives some indication that council officers in a range of areas have some concerns.
The Visitor Economy Marketing Strategy 2017-2020 highlights the impact of a weak pound ‘encouraging more international visits and a rise in domestic staycations’. However, the Strategy also includes Brexit as a ‘threat’ to tourism in Portsmouth if a ‘Downturn in UK economy after Brexit [results in] an increase in inflation.’
The International Port
Mike Sellers, Port Director, advised the Economic Development, Culture and Leisure Scrutiny Panel in October 2018 as part of the International Port Review that for the port, the ‘main challenge ahead was to know the implications of Brexit [to] plan the necessary infrastructure, but there had been more government involvement over the last few weeks regarding border planning and the need to ensure swift movement of goods.’
In response to questions from the Panel, Mike Sellers ‘acknowledged that clarity was being sought on border implications of exiting the European Union; whilst the government impression was that there was need for a pragmatic approach in getting the infrastructure in place for imports, the French government had indicated that if no deal was reached, the rules for exports brought in from outside Europe would apply from Day 1 (= 29th March 2019). This could mean a 4 hour turnaround time for ships in France or Spain, whereas it was currently 1.5 hours, impacting on PIP [Portsmouth International Port] schedules.’
Richard Lee, Regulatory Services manager, was also called to the Scrutiny Panel as part of the Port Review. In the agenda for the meeting, a ‘reminder’ is given to the Panel that: ‘current common quality and safety standards are shared by the UK and EU as part of the Bloc agreement and that if a borderless EU trade area for goods and agriculture is not agreed as part of Brexit, there is a possibility that more rigorous checks of products will be needed for produce of EU origin – and that if this takes place the need to highlight what the resourcing implications of this scenario might be for Regulatory Services. Obviously, this situation may change at any point in time whilst negotiations are ongoing.’ [Emphasis in original].
Regulatory Services are involved with a range of regulations relating to the Port, including international health regulations, food-borne diseases, import controls and the movement of live animals and pets through the port.
At the Scrutiny Panel, Mr Lee made clear that post-Brexit, ‘It was not known what requirements there would be for policing the border. There had been a lot more information from the government in recent weeks regarding if there was no agreement and becoming a hard border. Controls would need to be in place at the point of entry. There is a limited opportunity to predict the future requirements. If there are significant changes to PCC functions these may need to be implemented immediately. If checks are required for products coming through the port PCC will need to consider the resourcing implications for this function. There may need to be documentation checks or actual physical checks which will need greater involvement and personnel to do this.
‘Members agreed that the implications of a hard border for Regulatory Services should remain high on the political agenda for the necessary resources to be in place’
The Panel was also given details that funding for Regulatory Services is linked to income from the Port, and there has ‘been a downturn due to the reduced banana consignments, which [resulted in] a decrease in income of approximately £60k to the service.’
A report to the Cabinet Member for Environment and Community Safety in June 2o18 alerts councillors to the impact of Brexit on air quality measurement and reporting. S&C has previously reported on local campaigns to improve the city’s air quality, after Portsmouth was identified by the World Health Organisation(WHO) as being one of 49 cities in the UK with high levels of air pollution.
The report note that mechanisms to enforce current rules on air quality are ‘contained in EU law and not in UK legislation…The European Union (Withdrawal) Bill 2017 is designed to provide legal continuity by copying over the entire body of EU law onto the UK’s post-exit statute book. In broad terms, this means that all EU AQ [Air Quality] law will be converted into domestic law from exit day.
‘The Government has sought to allay concerns about changes to AQ standards following Brexit by stating that there are no plans to change AQ limit values and targets. It is not clear if the Government would follow any changes to EU AQ standards made following Brexit. It remains a possibility that equivalence between UK and EU standards could still be required under future trade arrangements.
‘While AQ standards from the AQ Directive are enshrined in UK legislation, they are currently monitored and enforced by the European Commission and overseen by the Court of Justice of the European Union. In response to concern about enforcement of environmental standards following Brexit, the Government has announced plans to consult on a new independent statutory body that would hold Government to account for upholding environmental standards in England.’
In October 2018, a report to the Cabinet Member for Resources notes the potential impact of Brexit on twinning, which has predominantly been funded by the EU, as part of a proposal to develop a strategy for twinning activities in the city.
‘The timing for the development of this strategy will also enable officers to reflect on the current and developing position in regards to the Brexit process and how this will affect currently our active relationships in particular with both Caen and Duisburg. The ramifications are already being felt as our most successful recent projects with Caen had utilised EU funding which it has not been possible to bid for since the Brexit vote and we do not believe we will be able to bid for in the future but this is currently unknown’.
Find out more:
See today’s related story by Rosy Bremer, Portsmouth After Brexit: What Do We Know?.
MyEU – search to see EU investments in your area
Solent LEP report – Baseline forecasts and the implications of Brexit
LSE report – The local economic effects of Brexit