It is working on a business continuity plan which has identified risks it could face in the event of a major emergency which would threaten its ability to provide its critical services.
Services which could be hit include:
Electoral Services - Local government elections are due to take place in May and the status of EU citizens, both in terms of their standing and their voting rights, is unclear.
A report considered by the council’s audit and finance committee said any change to voting and eligibility rules at this late stage could lead to significant disruption.
Fuel shortages - Additional trade barriers and other disruptions to supply chains may lead to shortages of key resources. In the event of a fuel shortage provision of services would be affected.
To counter that the council’s continuity plan identifies services, such as polling stations and other services such as retirement living, to be prioritised with staff able to work remotely or, if required, walk to a council venue.
The Sussex Resilience Forum’s Emergency Fuel Plan sets out how fuel reserves would be accessed to enable, where possible, services such as the refuse collection service, and building control to be maintained.
Environmental Health – Food Safety. ‘No deal’ technical notices published by the Department for Exiting the European Union say that the UK would have to produce Export Health Certificates for exports of all live animals and animal products to the EU in the event of a ‘no deal’ Brexit.
The council report says this is the current process for exporting animal products outside the EU and is a resource intensive task.
The report says: “This, coupled with the potential increase in inland inspections due to delays at the border and the withdrawal of access to EU intelligence databases, could put a severe strain on WDC’s ability to deliver against its food safety responsibilities.”
Pandemic – Reduction of Staff. The British Medical Association has indicated the UK could be more vulnerable to pandemics in the event of a ‘no deal’, as there will be uncertainty over the UK’s ability to coordinate preparations for the spread of deadly infectious diseases across borders.
A pandemic could lead to a “severe” reduction in the availability of council staff and this could “severely” affect one or more of its critical services.
The report says that if the UK were to leave the EU at 11pm on March 29, 2019 without a deal the business continuity plan would be put into action.
The council would deploy resources based on service pressures uncovered during an initial two-week period in early April.
The plan is due to be tested through exercises in March.
The council report says the emergency planning officer will work with heads of service to ensure each service area is prepared for a ‘no deal’ Brexit, with a particular focus on business continuity actions for key supply chains.
The council plans to continue to work with the Sussex Resilience Forum to coordinate preparations with key partners and to consider any further actions to increase resilience of critical services.