Yellowhammer papers held no surprises for Falkirk Council

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It raises the spectre of food shortages, rising prices and even riots on the streets, but Falkirk Council members today were told that the Yellowhammer papers held no surprises for the local authority.

Director of Development Rhona Geisler told members of Falkirk Scrutiny committee that she was glad to have finally seen the papers that outline the possible outcomes of a no-deal Brexit.

At least, she said, they confirmed that the plans Falkirk Council have been making are covering all eventualities.

Mrs Geisler said her staff were prepared to face “the realistic worst case scenario”, which could have an affect on the supply of food, medicines and services for vulnerable people requiring care.

The government papers revealing contingency plans for a no-deal Brexit had been kept secret until this week, when a vote forced the government to release the details.

They stress that the scenarios are not a prediction – but they are credible possibilities as lorries could be delayed at Dover, affecting fresh food supplies and medicine in particular.

Grangemouth councillor Robert Spears asked how it would affect the town’s investment zone, as the report refers several times to UK refineries closing.

Mrs Geisler said that she had no specific information on how a no-deal scenario might affect Grangemouth.

“The simple answer is that I don’t know, but I hope we can be cautiously optimistic,” she said.

“In a way it makes it more important to move forward with the investment zone as a way to address any difficulties that would be created.”

She said that while Falkirk Council has made extensive plans to cope with the changes there could well be long-term issues around the economy that would be harder to control.

She said: “One economist described the UK economy as receiving a ‘short, sharp shock’ and that’s language I wouldn’t normally expect an economist to use so we should expect something significant.”

In particular, she feared small and medium businesses could be most affected as they have fewer reserves to call on but there was significant work going on with Business Gateway to help firms prepare.

As the situation is changing daily, she promised to update members but said she was confident the council’s preparations were sound.