Website gives Brexit guidance for Harlow residents

AS Brexit turmoil continues in the House of Commons, Essex County Council is attempting to provide residents some guidance through a dedicated section of their website.

The ‘Brexit and you’ website outlines how EU citizens can register for the Settlement Scheme that will allow them to continue living in the UK, the rights of Irish citizens and guidance for businesses.

It also includes links to online “toolkits” that explain how Brexit will impact EU workers and expectations for international travel.

However, much of the advice links to Government websites which are struggling to give firm details themselves due to the failure of politicians to reach an agreement on what kind of Brexit they wish to see.

Presently the UK is set to leave the EU at 11pm on March 29 – less than four weeks’ time.

At the end of last year, Gavin Jones, chief executive of Essex County Council expressed frustration at the Government for communicating directly to certain ports and airports rather than speaking to councils.

He told councillors during a meeting in November: “One of the frustrations is the government is talking directly to ports and airports and potentially Harwich could take more traffic if Dover fills up and the roads there potentially become very congested.

“The frustration we have is when the government talks to Harwich they won’t talk to us or share that information – they are forced to sign confidentiality agreements.”

The council has also said that it expects a no-deal Brexit to impact EU grant funded projects, services and goods, employment and emergency planning.

Essex’s two unitary councils in Southend and Thurrock have been less specific about the impact, with Southend publishing a report which focuses largely on general concerns raised by the Government. However, it does note that EU funded projects could face difficulties because the money is only protected until 2020.

Thurrock has opted not to publish an impact report due to the uncertainty at Westminster. Last week, the council revealed it is in discussions with the Government after they were not included in a list of authorities receiving a share of £3.14million of Government funding for ports likely to be impacted by Brexit, despite it being home to three ports.

Elsewhere in Essex, Tendring and Uttlesford councils will benefit due to Harwich port and Stansted airport.

This funding will be in addition to a £56.6million fund that will be shared among all local authorities across the country. Unitary authorities, such as Essex County Council, Southend Council and Thurrock Council are expected to get around £210,000 distributed over two instalments.

Further funding for less well-off towns was announced on Monday, with a pot of £1.6billion being shared across the country.

Most of this will go towards the north and the midlands over seven years, where spending per head will be equal to around £25. In the South East it will be closer to £10 per head. The funding has faced criticisms from opposition councillors who have said it does not make up for the millions lost in cuts to councils since 2010.

Emergency planning for leaving the EU is being undertaken by a partnership of all local authorities, known as the Essex Resilience Forum. This includes the health authorities, councils and the environment agency. Planning by the group has been taking place since August last year and has a working group dedicated to the types of issues.

Visit the site at: https://www.essex.gov.uk/Pages/Your-Brexit-guide.aspx

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