The leader of the county council has been accused of failing to answer a question on how vulnerable people in Bucks will be supported if the government does not establish a Brexit deal.
The government is currently stepping up planning for the “unlikely” event of a “no deal” Brexit – including stockpiling vital blood products and medicines which may be held up at the country’s ports.
At a full council meeting on Thursday, July 26 leader, councillor Martin Tett, was asked what actions the authority is taking in order to protect “the vulnerable and less well off” as the country approaches its exit from the European Union.
Councillor for Aylesbury North West, Martin Farrow said: “I would like to ask you, in light of our prime minister’s recent recommendations with regards to Brexit, mainly the stockpiling of food and medical supplies, can you help us to understand what actions the county council will be taking in order to protect the vulnerable and less well off in our county?”
Cllr Tett said it is “right” to prepare for a “no deal” Brexit – however believes the responsibility of advising businesses and the public sector to stockpile supplies should fall to the government.
He added that BCC is “working very closely” with businesses and the public sector, including the NHS, to establish what actions need to be taken as negotiations on a future trade agreement continue.
Cllr Tett said: “The government is taking course now to ask various departments to stockpile in the eventuality of no deal – and this relates really to particular medicines and things like that in case there is a delay at the ports in the short term.
“In the longer term that shouldn’t really be an issue. I’m not really sure at the moment as a county council if we even have any visibility of what a potential deal or no deal would be, and I am also not sure quite frankly what role we would play in advising businesses here what they should and shouldn’t stockpile. That should be a national responsibility.”
However leader of the Liberal Democrats on BCC, Cllr Steven Lambert, criticised the leader’s response – saying he missed an opportunity to assure members the council is prepared for Brexit.
He said: “I think there is a need for someone in this authority to stand up and say ‘we are prepared, this isn’t at risk and we are okay’.
“But no one is saying that at the moment, and I think the leader missed an opportunity to say that.”
Cllr Tett said he was “irritated” by Cllr Lambert’s comment – adding BCC is taking a “proactive approach” towards preparing for Brexit and will “act in accordance with guidelines from central government”.