The potential impact of Brexit on communities across Courier country has been revealed in a series of newly-released papers.
Local government officials in Dundee, Perth, Fife and Angus are preparing for job losses, shrinking local economies, funding being withdrawn from key programmes and for deteriorating relationships with partners in the EU.
Councils have set up specific groups, such as Fife’s Brexit Business Advisory Group or Dundee’s Brexit Advisory Team, to gather information and to lobby on the issues most pressing in each local area.
The papers also note some benefits from the decision to leave the European Union, such as a spike in tourism, the prospect of more job opportunities for local workers, and a boost to exporters from a weaker pound.
A Dundee Brexit briefing, prepared by Chief Executive David R Martin’s office, highlights possible effects on the local economy, including the wholesale and retail trade, creative industries, life sciences and tourism sectors.
“Wholesale, retail and repairs is the largest business sector in Dundee… If forecasts are accurate, Dundee’s employment in these sectors could be detrimentally impacted under all Brexit scenarios but particularly under a “Hard Brexit”.
The briefing goes on to note concerns around the recently opened V&A design museum.
“V&A Dundee is expected to be a significant international attraction, so ensuring that EU visitors are able to travel freely to the UK post Brexit will be essential in terms of ensuring that maximum impact is derived from the investment made.”
Dundee’s “growing reputation for its creative industries” is also said to be under threat.
“Long-standing skill shortages already exist within the sector and the loss of EU labour, particularly EU students, is a major challenge. Losing access to EU funding has also been projected to be a significant challenge for the sector moving forward.”
In Perth and Kinross the documents – first released to the BBC under FOI legislation as part of an investigation into Brexit preparations across all local authorities – reveal a 13% drop in EU migration to the area in the year to September 2017.
The documents detail widespread concern about the withdrawal of agricultural subsidy and the effect this could have on the wider Perth economy.
“Farming in Scotland will be hit hard and the harder the Brexit the worst it will be,” states the ‘Briefing Brexit and Perth and Kinross Economic Indicators’ document.
“Cities such as Perth, that have dependencies linked to the rural economy, will be particularly vulnerable. The expectation is that there will be less income circulating in the rural economy which will have a direct impact on trade and retail within the city.”
Fife Council highlights the “wider societal impact.”
“The Council in particular has a community leadership role to help chart a smooth path through the Brexit negotiations. This could include ongoing promotion of rights, European cultural activities, education, and utilising our strong relationships with European Partners through engaging on Fife’s position with European Twin Towns.”
COSLA President Councillor Alison Evison said their members started contingency planning as soon as the decision to leave was taken.
“We have been working with the UK and Scottish Governments to ensure our voice is heard. However real scenario planning will only be possible once agreement over the transition period has been reached and afterwards when we know better what the replacement trading arrangements are going to be.”