Council increases focus on Brexit impact risks

Sunday October 3rd 2021

Midlothian Council Fairfield House Main

Written by Local Democracy Reporter, Marie Sharp

The risk Brexit poses to Scotland’s fastest growing council has been upgraded as the impact on services and supply begins to appear.

A meeting of Midlothian Council’s audit committee was told that while the pandemic was ongoing a lack of Government information meant changes caused by leaving the EU were not picked up on.

However in the first quarter of this year councillors were told more focus was being put on the changes caused by the split.

A report to the committee on its risk register acknowledged it was now dealing with the concurrent risks of Covid 19 and the UK exit from the EU.

It revealed the council has reconvened its EU Exit Working Group to “enable suitable planning to take place in response the emerging new relationship with the EU and any changes which had the potential to impact services or supplies.”

The report added that previously: “With information from Government limited, there was negligible impact being experienced or indeed attributed to the EU Exit whilst the country was responding and recovering from the pandemic.

“Quarter one (of this year) saw forecasts of workforce and supply chain issues but they were not yet experienced locally by the council.

“With the likelihood and impacts that these would have on council operations increasing, the risk evaluation of EU Exit has risen from low risk to medium risk.”

Derek Oliver, the council’s chief officer place, said further impact of Brexit was likely to be seen when quarter two reports for this year come out and added the council was monitoring the situation and making contingency plans for dealing with any issues.

The report also advised the committee that Midlothian Council’s status as the fastest growing local authority area in Scotland was not only still true but likely to continue for years to come.

However it said that could be a positive development for the county.

It said: “Projections show it will remain so, possibly for a further ten years.

“As a growing council this brings the opportunity to redevelop parts of Midlothian, improve infrastructure with a focus on area targeting, improving economic opportunities, improving education and health outcome.”

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