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Website URL : http://www.swansea.gov.uk/index.cfm?articleid=619
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Agenda and minutes

Venue: Committee Room 5, Guildhall, Swansea. View directions

Contact: Liz Jordan 01792 637314 

Items
No. Item

1.

Disclosure of Personal and Prejudicial Interests

Minutes:

No disclosures of interest were made.

2.

Prohibition of Whipped Votes and Declaration of Party Whips

Minutes:

No declarations were made.

3.

BREXIT Report and Presentation pdf icon PDF 256 KB

Rob Stewart, Leader of the Council and Cabinet Member - Economy and Strategy

Adam Hill, Deputy Chief Executive and Director of Resources

Richard Rowlands, Strategic Delivery and Performance Manager

Craig Gimblett, Corporate Health, Safety and Wellbeing Manager

Paul Relf, Economic Development and External Funding Manager

 

Minutes:

Rob Stewart, Leader of the Council and Cabinet Member for Economy and Strategy; Adam Hill, Deputy Chief Executive and Director of Resources and other relevant officers attended to present an overview of the Council’s preparations for Brexit and answer the Working Group’s questions. 

 

The following main issues were discussed:

 

  • With so much uncertainty, Swansea Council is as prepared as it can be and appears to have prepared more than any other Welsh Council. 
  • The UK was expecting to leave the EU initially in March 2019 and the Authority prepared for that.  There are other concerns with a proposed Autumn Brexit compared to a Spring Brexit.
  • Communication is very important.  Have to ensure the public do not panic buy and stockpile (food, fuel, medicines)
  • Concern that some groups will use Brexit as a means to promote their own issues and cause unrest.
  • Poverty as a consequence of Brexit is a major concern of the Authority.
  • Brexit could bring some advantages to the area in the future and there are opportunities we need to promote with local people and businesses. 
  • Not everyone has access to a computer and the Council website to obtain information on Brexit.  Members of the public who contact the Authority will be signposted to the right person to deal with their issue. 
  • Small businesses are being helped to prepare by BID which is supporting town centre businesses.  The Chamber of Commerce is also helping to make businesses aware and UK and Welsh Government websites have lots of information on how businesses should prepare. 
  • Fuel supply is a national issue.  The police and national government have contingency plans in place.  If there is a traffic management issue then the Authority’s highways department would get involved.
  • Social media is an issue.  We do not know what influence this will have.
  • £45,000 has been received by the Authority from Welsh Government to assist with planning for Brexit.  This has been used to cover some of the officer’s time.  Do not know if any more money will be received but costs are being tracked including officers time.
  • The Authority meets with Welsh Government and the national government on a monthly basis. The WLGA meets on a monthly basis and the Leader of the Council is the chair of this group.   The Authority also meets internally every two weeks and all information received from a multitude of sources is fed into this meeting. 
  • The proposed date for Brexit is 31 October 2019, which is a Thursday.  It does not matter which day it is as the Authority will have its contingency plans in place and, as the date approaches, will meet daily. 
  • It is unknown what a further delay to Brexit would mean for preparations.  It depends on how long the delay is and what time of year.  The Authority will not be able to continue preparing for this indefinitely as so much officer’s time is involved.
  • It is in the weeks and months after Brexit that the impacts will start to emerge. 
  • University schemes attract a high proportion of European Union (EU) students and this would have a huge impact on the economy of Swansea.  Swansea University have tried to mitigate the risks. 
  • The EU is responsible for natural environment and habitat directives, which are all part of EU legislation.  This will become part of UK /Welsh law after Brexit but there is concern that the NE in terms of protections will be impacted and must not be overlooked. 

 

4.

Discussion and Conclusions

Councillors are asked to discuss conclusions arising from this session

for inclusion in the Convener’s letter to the Cabinet Member:

 

a) What do you want to say about this issue to the Cabinet Member in

the Convener’s letter (what are your conclusions arising from this

session?)

 

b) Do you have any recommendations for the Cabinet Member arising

from this session?

 

c) Are there any further issues you wish to highlight to the Scrutiny

Programme Committee arising from this session?

 

d) Do we need another meeting post BREXIT?

 

Minutes:

The Working Group discussed progress and made the following conclusions:

 

  1. We found the briefing very informative and we are reassured that the Authority has done what it can to prepare for Brexit.
  2. We are still concerned about what the Authority will do about any fuel crisis.  This would have a huge impact on communities if it goes on for months.  Our main concern is about the public being able to access transport for work etc, as well as emergency services.  We are aware that there should not be a fuel shortage but if there is panic buying it could cause one.
  3. We believe that Brexit could provide opportunities for local farmers and businesses and for the port in Swansea.  Even if businesses only plan to use these as a temporary measure, they could decide it is a better alternative.  We would like to see the Authority promote these opportunities.
  4. We feel there is a need to be very cautious about the language the Authority puts out from forums etc.  There is a need to ensure the right messages are getting out and this needs to be very carefully managed.
  5. We are pleased that some monies have been received towards preparing from Brexit.  However, this is a very small amount and we are concerned about how the Authority will be reimbursed for all the costs of managing and monitoring this.  The Authority will need to look into all ways of getting this money back.  
  6. We would like to see the Authority publicise the good work it is doing in preparing for Brexit.  We need to communicate the message that we are as prepared as we can be.
  7. We will be recommending to the Scrutiny Programme Committee that a follow up meeting of this working group is held post Brexit.

  

Following on from this meeting:

 

  • A letter will be written from the Convener of the Working Group to the Cabinet Member, summarising the discussion and outlining the Working Group’s thoughts and recommendations.

 

Letter to Cabinet Member pdf icon PDF 199 KB

 

Contacts:
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