The leader of Plymouth City Council has asked housing and communities secretary James Brokenshire to hand over any information and analysis held by the government on the potential impact of Brexit on the city’s economy.
It is thought to be the first time a council has invoked the Sustainable Communities Act 2007 to try and force the government to release information - regardless of that information’s confidential status.
In a letter published on the council’s website, Tudor Evans (Lab) called on the government to deliver “sufficient information” to help inform businesses, institutions and communities of the potential effects of Brexit.
This includes requests for information on the “likely impacts on the supply of EU migrant labour based on all the likely withdrawal scenarios”, “likely impacts on foreign direct investment”, the “risks posed by new customs requirements to existing routes for goods”, and the “likely impacts on social cohesion under different withdrawal scenarios”. A request for information about the extent to which repatriated powers from the European Union will be devolved to councils has also been submitted.
Cllr Evans said: “Like many other cities, there is a big cloud of economic uncertainty hanging menacingly over our heads.
“Brexit is going to have an impact on Plymouth, that is for sure. But for this council to do the job of protecting businesses and residents, we have to know exactly what the government has planned for us because at the moment, we don’t know.
“We’ve seen various dossiers released in the last few weeks. They have been at best woolly and do not address what Brexit means for individual communities.
“This must change. They have to give us answers.”
The Sustainable Communities Act, which only legally applies to councils in England and Wales, allows authorities to make proposals which would “contribute to promoting the sustainability of local communities”. According to a 2010 amendment to the act. however, the secretary of state can choose which parts of the request, if any, should be be implemented.
The act also requires the authority to nominate a panel which it considers representative of local opinion. To this end, Cllr Evans has nominated the council’s Brexit, infrastructure and legislative change overview and scrutiny committee.