South Northamptonshire Council stockpiling fuel in case of disorderly Brexit

South Northamptonshire Council has undertaken Brexit preparations, though admits any risks are 'incredibly low'. Picture by: Getty Images (AFP/Stringer)
South Northamptonshire Council has undertaken Brexit preparations, though admits any risks are 'incredibly low'. Picture by: Getty Images (AFP/Stringer)

Diesel is being stockpiled by South Northamptonshire Council in preparation for any risks connected with a disorderly Brexit.

The council’s scrutiny committee were last night (April 4) given a list of risks connected with such a scenario, and these included vehicle fuel, supply chains, community tensions and safety, residents’ rights and potential elections.

South Northamptonshire Council’s assistant director for communications, engagement and transformation, Peter Holt, told councillors that the authority was ready for anything that could be thrown at it but that risks were ‘very low’.

He said: “I won’t pretend to predict what will happen next in this, but we have been working on potential issues that could come up, and how likely they are to have an impact on our residents. We’ve been putting together proportional responses, and we’ve almost been treating it as a business continuity case.

“One of the Brexit risks is diesel fuel for our waste collection vehicles. The likelihood of any risk coming to fruition is incredibly low, but it could have a high impact on residents if it does. There’s no intelligence to suggest that there is a risk, but we’ve taken a proportional approach to it.

“Typically our fuel depot contains 15,000 litres, although they can cope with up to 50,000 litres. So as a precautionary measure, and because we would be using that fuel later on anyway, we had made sure in advance of March 29 that we had topped it up to 50,000 litres.

“That’s enough for six weeks of supply, and now that the March 29 deadline has passed we will be keeping it topped up to that level as long as Brexit continues, and it is at no extra cost.”

The UK was due to leave the European Union on March 29, but the process has been delayed as parliament struggles to agree on the exit mechanism, or whether there may be any further public votes on the issue, or whether Article 50 may be revoked altogether.

The latest exit date is currently for next Friday (April 12), but this morning Prime Minister Theresa May requested a further delay from the EU until June 30.

It leaves open the possibility of the UK, and South Northamptonshire residents, taking part in the European Parliament elections on May 23.

And Mr Holt said: “There’s no decision yet on whether there will be any elections, but my colleagues are doing contingency plans in case we have to whizz into action at short notice.”

Councillors were also told it would be particularly helpful if they could notify the authority if they sensed any ‘growing tension’ over Brexit in their local communities.

Mr Holt added: “There’s no evidence to suggest that there’s likely to be any riots or violence on the streets of Towcester and Brackley. In reality, Northamptonshire officers are more likely to be called to the streets of major cities if anything like that does happen.”

He also outlined that although the council only had a ‘small proportion’ of migrant workers, they were ‘geared up’ to be supportive of them in their duty of care.

Scrutiny chair Councillor Sandra Barnes said: “It’s great that we are thinking about these things. I assume if we were to have EU elections then there would be a small turnout."

And Councillor Richard Dallyn added: “At least we have a Plan B here, which is more than we can say about our parliament.”