Brexit could put food supplies for schools and care homes at risk, according to a warning in a council report.
But Green councillor Marianna Ebel, who leads on Brexit for Brighton and Hove City Council, urged people not to “panic buy” but to shop as normal, buying only what they needed.
She said that contingency plans were in place when she spoke at a virtual meeting of the full council on Thursday (17 December).
But her advice came days before France imposed a 48-hour ban on travel to and from Britain over concerns about a mutation giving rise to a more infectious strain of the coronavirus.
Dozens of other countries have since banned flights to and from Britain, giving what some commentators have described as a foretaste of life after a “no deal” Brexit.
The current “transition arrangements” since Brexit – Britain’s exit from the European Union – expire at the end of this year.
The council debated the Brexit resilience and planning report at the request of former Labour council leader Daniel Yates.
The changes – whether or not Britain agrees a deal with the EU – are expected to affect most if not all aspects of the council’s work.
Councillor Yates said that the 34 “amber” risks set out in the 31-page report were a worry despite there being no major “red” risks listed.
He said: “At the moment, I’m concerned. I’m not scared. I’m deeply concerned.
“What I’m most concerned about is this knife-edge is going to get to a critical point where we fail to get solutions in place that meet the needs of the future of this city.”
He said that Brexit would have an impact on the universities, the workforce, adult social care, child protection, the economy, housing, tourism, food resilience, communities and the wider society we live in.
Councillor Yates “I don’t think I can understate the fact of how much of a cliff-edge this is.
“But this isn’t just a cliff-edge in terms of politicians playing cliff-edge politics as they do. This is a cliff-edge for every single citizen of the EU and every single person in our communities across Brighton and Hove.
“Our people, our businesses and businesses that want to come and work in the UK are also having to sit there and wait and see what the final outcome of these discussions is going to be.”
Councillor Yates was also speaking before the French travel ban was announced – and today (Monday 21 December) the government held a crisis meeting as lorries queued in Kent to reach Dover port.
A leading some supermarket chain gave a warning about potential shortages of some products if the restrictions weren’t eased soon.
Sainsbury’s said that it had enough stock for Christmas but there could be shortages of some fresh fruit and vegetables unless the ban was lifted soon.
The company said: “If nothing changes, we will start to see gaps over the coming days on lettuce, salad leaves, cauliflowers, broccoli, citrus fruit – all of which are imported from EU at this time of year.
“We hope the UK and French (governments) can come to a solution that prioritises immediate passage of produce and food.”
At the council meeting on Thursday, Councillor Ebel urged business owners to seek support to navigate their way through the Brexit uncertainty.
Councillor Ebel, who is originally from Germany, described progress as “a challenge” as the government had acknowledged that not all businesses were ready.
She called on more firms to sign up to the Brighton With Love programme which was set up with support from the Brighton and Hove Chamber of Commerce and the Economic Partnership.
The programme offers free sessions with experts and support for businesses to learn from each other and seek out new opportunities.
Councillor Ebel also called on all EU citizens living locally to apply for settled status. So far more than 22,000 had applied, she said, adding: “We want you to stay. You are our family and friends.
“You make such a vital contribution to our city and our communities and make our city special.”
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