A COUNCILLOR has warned that the local authority has a “duty to prepare the Shetland community for a no deal Brexit” in the coming weeks and months.
North Mainland member Alastair Cooper told a meeting of the full council on Wednesday that “ignorance is no defence, so we have to do something to defend ourself” if the UK leaves the European Union (EU) without a deal.
The matter was raised after a report on the council’s corporate risk register reiterated there remained uncertainty over the impact of Brexit on Shetland, with areas like withdrawal of funding, legislative change and economic impact concerning officers.
The Brexit transition period is due to begin at the end of March, but the details of the UK’s exit from the EU is still unclear as an agreed deal struck by prime minister Theresa May is likely to be voted against by MPs in January.
The UK Government has started to increase its planning for a withdrawal deal not being agreed with the EU, which most believe would be the worst case scenario.
Lerwick North councillor Stephen Leask said it was time the council’s Brexit sounding board, which was formed after the EU referendum vote in 2016 to ensure the isles’ interests are recognised, was “ramped up”.
Cooper – who is chairman of the council’s development committee – said he was concerned that the UK Government had started delving further into what a no deal scenario would look like.
“We are at the point where we [the council] need to be doing something,” he said.
Director of corporate services Christine Ferguson said the potential impact of Brexit continues to be looked at, while council lawyer Jan Riise added that the government is preparing planning assumptions which councils could use when developing contingencies.
Shetland Central member Davie Sandison said one of his main concerns was for Shetland’s key industries, while SNP man Robbie McGregor said the “whole thing has been a shambles for the last two years”.
South end councillor Allison Duncan, who works as a crofter, also sounded concern over how farm subsidies could look in the coming years.
Leask echoed worries over Shetland’s industries and said that thoughts should be headed towards putting “plans in place for the public sector and also the private sector” on the impact of Brexit.
Become a supporter of Shetland News
Shetland News is asking its many readers to consider start paying for their dose of the latest local news delivered straight to their PC, tablet or mobile phone.
Journalism comes at a price and because that price is not being paid in today’s rapidly changing media world, most publishers - national and local - struggle financially despite very healthy audience figures.
Most online publishers have started charging for access to their websites, others have chosen a different route. Shetland News currently has over 530 supporters who are all making small voluntary financial contributions. All funds go towards covering our cost and improving the service further.
Your contribution will ensure Shetland News can: -
- Bring you the headlines as they happen;
- Stay editorially independent;
- Give a voice to the community;
- Grow site traffic further;
- Research and publish more in-depth news, including more Shetland Lives features.
If you appreciate what we do and feel strongly about impartial local journalism, then please become a supporter of Shetland News by either making a single payment or monthly subscription.
Support us from as little as £3 per month – it only takes a minute to sign up. Thank you.Support Shetland News