Ards and North Down’s policy of ignoring Brexit won’t work, says Alliance

Ards and North Down Council is failing to prepare for the potential outcome of Brexit locally ahead of the 2019 planned withdrawal, Alliance Councillors have said.

At a recent Council meeting, Councillor Gavin Walker and Alderman Alan McDowell pressed for Officers to prepare a full report on the impact of Brexit on local businesses, a move which was voted down by the DUP, TUV and Ulster Unionists.

Councillor Gavin Walker said: “Since the Council meeting late last week the Brexit negotiations have plunged into crisis, largely around the issue of ensuring a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland is avoided, signalling just how tense the situation is.

“This past few days have highlighted how quickly things can change, which is why we feel it is imperative that the Council has a full understanding of how local business reacts to the ongoing Brexit negotiations, not the current burry its head in the sand approach.

“We know that many of our exporters are already considering various post-Brexit options, and as a Council we need to know how these will affect our Borough far in advance of the March 2019 deadline.”

Alliance Party Alderman McDowell added: “Alliance Councillors seem to be the only ones on this Council who understand that Brexit will affect every business and resident in our Borough.

“It is incredible that Council officers have now been instructed by Councillors to ignore what is the most seismic challenge to our economy that we will undergo in a generation.

“We know that local businesses are already considering various plans of action as the Brexit negotiations continue. March 2019 might be the date the UK leaves the EU, but we seem to be alone on the Council in our understanding that businesses of all sizes will have made their investment, employment and development decisions long before then.”

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