Windsor & Maidenhead residents concerned over their Council's lack of Brexit preparedness

RBWM council offices

A while ago, we noted that Slough Borough Council had taken the decision to set aside contingency funds in case of a hard Brexit.

It has long seemed odd that neighbouring Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead council has supported Brexit (both the leader of the council and both their MPs) but seems unwilling to do anything to actually prepare for it.

Now, a group of local residents (including members of Windsor for EU) have decided to quiz the council over their Brexit preparations through a serious of questions at the next full council meeting.

Residents to quiz council over Royal borough Brexit Preparations.

Five concerned residents are demanding to know how the Royal Borough is preparing for a “No Deal” Brexit.
With brexit day looming, the five from Maidenhead and Windsor have submitted a series of nine questions to ask councillors at the next full council meeting on Tuesday 26th February. The questions range from how is the council using government money to prepare, to how residents who need help with Settled Status applications will be supported.

“Other councils are making preparations, but we have no idea if RBWM are doing anything to prepare for the big changes next month. Freedom of information requests seem to have hit a brick wall,” said Clare Quarman, one of the questioners.

The council website shows it received five FOI requests regarding brexit risks and preparation in the second half of last year. Its replies say “we do not hold the requested information”.

“I am concerned that with just weeks to go we are still yet to hear how the Royal Borough intends to protect essential services from the practical implications of Brexit” said Windsor resident Karen Davies, who also submitted questions.
The Government has said “Local government will play a critical role in making a success of Brexit at the local level” with unitary authorities, such as RBWM, receiving £105k this financial year to make preparations, and the same again in the following year.

“How is this money is being spent?” added Mrs Quarman, who also started the campaign group Windsor for EU. “The council leader has shown enthusiasm for brexit and I hope that belief has not clouded the council’s preparations and ability to look after residents in the future.”

In contrast, neighbouring Slough Borough Council published its risk assessments for brexit in 2018 and announced £200k contingency money last month.

Royal Borough opposition councillor Wisdom da Costa thinks it’s vital the council be prepared. “The process towards Brexit has brought a tsunami of issues and uncertainties which affect every area of society,” he said.

“From a Council’s point of view it could affect its property speculation and development; the availability of labour for social care for the most vulnerable in society; the ability of waste management and highways contractors to complete tasks; demands on mental health services, adult services and perhaps even schools at a time of scarcity.”

“All of these issues, and many more, need to be planned for and resourced now; remember the old adage, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”

“It is vital that the Council is open about the scope of preparations and its readiness to help local residents and business negotiate the tricky years ahead.”