£105k and 100 laptops for Tonbridge council to cope with no-deal

HEAVY LOAD: Kent will bear the brunt of any holdups at Dover Port or the Channel Tunnel

£105k and 100 laptops for Tonbridge council to cope with no-deal

by Andy Tong | 13th February 2019

TONBRIDGE & Malling Borough Council has applied for a grant of £105,000 from the Brexit Contingency Programme Fund to plan for the fallout from a no-deal.

The sum will allow the local authority to buy 100 laptops so staff can work from home without interrupting the delivery of services.

The details were included in a report on ‘Brexit preparedness’ by the council’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee.

Chief executive Julie Beilby said: “Government has indicated six months of disruption might occur following Brexit and that all relevant agencies should be planning for that eventuality.”

She added: “The key concern for Tonbridge and Malling will be the likely major traffic congestion affecting the M20/A20/M26 corridor and surrounding roads, should there be severe delays at Kent ports.

“Plans are in place (Operation Fennel) to deal with this scenario but the success of such plans have yet to be fully tested.

“We therefore need to plan for such problems, which could have a major impact on staff travel to and from work and other key road-related council services such as waste collection.”

With Kent expected to bear the brunt of frontier complications, Operation Fennel is a strategy formulated by the Kent Resilience Forum [KRF].

This group consists of ‘blue light services’ – police, fire and ambulance – as well as other bodies such as the NHS, Environment Agency and Kent County Council [KCC].

The KRF produced a checklist after examining the impact on traffic management, community resilience, environment and waste, health and social care, business continuity, business resilience, command and control, media and communication, and finance and data.

Traffic congestion has been predicted as lorries stack up awaiting clearance to cross the frontier at Dover or the Channel Tunnel.

‘Food officers could be asked to condemn consignments that need to be destroyed’

This is also likely to have an impact on refuse services, not only in terms of collections but also gaining access to KCC’s waste transfer stations, where rubbish is loaded on to larger vehicles.

Another area of concern surrounds imported food if a trade deal is not secured, with environmental health officers potentially being called up to work at the port of Dover .

Ms Beilby warns: “The Food Standards Agency are launching more imported food training for officers early this year.

“They could be asked to condemn consignments of food that need to be destroyed, if goods have been held up and are out of temperature control when they arrive in the borough.”

Other services that might be affected include street cleaning, which could be confined to ‘hot spots’, grounds maintenance and Tonbridge cemetery – though the latter is not deemed critical due to the ‘low number of burials’.

With local elections due to be held on May 2, the council will prepare election paperwork in-house rather than externally, while also promoting the postal vote as an option.

There will also be an enhanced call-handling team to deal with a hike in inquiries from the public and businesses about the fallout.

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