Leaders from authorities across the Heart of the South West (HotSW) are calling on Government to help them play a greater role in getting ready for the impacts of Brexit.
In a letter to the Minister for Housing Communities and Local Government (MHCLG), signed jointly by Cllr David Fothergill, Chair of the HotSW Joint Committee and Steve Hindley, Chair of the HotSW Local Enterprise Partnership, they have asked for greater engagement in preparations for EU withdrawal at the end of March 2019 – especially in the possible scenario of a ‘no deal’ exit.
The HotSW Joint Committee, which represents 23 authorities and organisations across Devon and Somerset, met at the end of November. It has been working on creating a framework of support for businesses and communities post-Brexit and had written to James Brokenshire asking for more support and information.
They are concerned about the potential increased demand on local authorities in areas such as Trading Standards and environmental health at a time when local government funding is under huge pressure.
The HotSW Leaders have been frustrated by a lack of information from Westminster which is hindering the local assessment of the likely impact of Brexit on the area. This has not been helped by MHCLG’s recent cancellation of a planned workshop with South West representatives which was due to take place this week. As yet no new date has been given.
Somerset County Council Leader, David Fothergill, Chair of the HotSW Joint Committee said: “We have no desire to enter into the politics of Brexit, our only interest is in practical steps that would protect the best interests of the 1.7m residents and 89,000 businesses that are in the Heart of the South West area.
“This partnership of 23 organisations could, and we think should, have an important role making sure that we are ready for post March 2019, especially if that were to be a ‘no deal’ Brexit situation.
“Whatever this country’s future relationship with Europe looks like, we are committed to making sure that it works for our residents and businesses, but we cannot do that alone.
“We are asking Government to help us help it develop, and then deliver, a plan for coping with the Brexit outcome and we cannot do that without more information and more engagement.”
The Committee is made up of council leaders and other lead representatives of county, unitary and district councils across Devon and Somerset along with Dartmoor and Exmoor National Parks, the Local Enterprise Partnership and local Clinical Commissioning Groups.
It is a means through which the authorities and organisations can work together to improve productivity and continue to work with Government on policy agendas including devolution.
Somerset County Council is acting as the host of the HotSW Joint Committee and meeting agendas and further information including the full Productivity Strategy can be found here http://www.hotswjointcommittee.org.uk/publications/
The partners that make up the HotSW Joint Committee are: Dartmoor National Park Authority, Devon County Council, East Devon District Council, Exeter City Council, Exmoor National Park Authority, Mendip District Council, Mid Devon District Council, North Devon Council, Plymouth City Council, Sedgemoor District Council, Somerset County Council, South Hams District Council, South Somerset District Council, Torbay Council, Taunton Deane Borough Council, Teignbridge District Council, Torridge District Council, West Devon Borough Council, West Somerset Council, Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), NHS Northern, Eastern and Western Devon Clinical Commissioning Group, South Devon and Torbay Clinical Commissioning Group, and Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group.