Councillor’s call for special Brexit group to regularly brief authority on potential Angus impact

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A call is being made for Angus Council to form a specific officer group to examine the potential impact of Brexit on the Angus economy.

Angus SNP group leader Councillor Lynne Devine said she believes the authority should be regularly briefed on the potential outcomes for the area instead of learning the impact at the “last minute”.

In a motion due to go before the final 2017 meeting of full council in Forfar on Thursday, Ms Devine suggested elected members should not be part of the group, to separate it from party politics.

European funding as well as both public and private sector employment in areas ranging from the NHS and care sector to agriculture and industry have been highlighted as matters of importance.

Ms Devine will seek support for a motion which states: “Council believes that it would be sensible and timely to set up an officer group to consider the effects which Brexit is likely to have on Angus Council and the economy of Angus.

“Several other councils have already taken this step in order to be prepared to take decisions based on up-to-date information, as it becomes available, rather than wait until the last minute.

“It would be expected that reports would be brought forward to appropriate committees and/or council.

The motion adds: “Issues to be addressed should include: availability of European funding, changes in regulations e.g. procurement; employee availability in public sector e.g. care homes, NHS, IT;  employee availability in private sector e.g. agriculture, care homes, college, hospitality and construction industries.

“The above list is not exclusive,” it adds.

Forfar councillor Ms Devine said: “We’re asking for an officer only group as we feel party politics should be kept out of it.

“It’s such a fluid situation, but for the people of Angus I think it’s vital that their council makes sure we are ready for whatever kind of Brexit ensues, and that we can support our people and economy in whatever ways we can.

“European funding is a particular concern as Angus has done well in the past through Leader funding for rural communities and businesses and from other funds for employability and environmental projects.

“We have to hope that the Westminster government will be aware of the potential losses we could suffer.”

Fife Council Council established a member/officer group in the wake of last year’s EU referendum which meets periodically to discuss Brexit and its implications.