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No-deal Brexit breakfast briefing for Gravesend businesses

Businesses met with council leaders this morning to discuss how best to prepare for Brexit should there be no deal come October 31.

The informal networking event was hosted inside Gravesend Borough Market by Gravesham council which prepared a series of speeches and gave advice to around 90 business owners.

Representatives from Gravesend businesses gather for a breakfast Brexit briefing
Representatives from Gravesend businesses gather for a breakfast Brexit briefing

Directions were given to online resources prepared by the council to help with business continuity planning in the event of a no-deal outcome.

This included how to register for an Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) number, a legal requirement for moving goods in and out of the EU, as well as information on applying for road licences and driving permits.

Additional resources from other local organisations were also pinpointed, including Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce's Brexit hub, which sets out guidance on reviewing employee contracts and supporting staff with applications to remain in the UK.

Mention was also made to the National Farmers' Union which has prepared a toolbox for the agricultural sector and issued warnings about the possibility of tariffs applied to food produce under a 'no deal' scenario.

Among those giving speeches to businesses was Gravesham council leader, John Burden who pointed out the event was "not a discussion about politics".

Leader of Gravesham council John Burden addresses the business Brexit meeting
Leader of Gravesham council John Burden addresses the business Brexit meeting

He urged businesses to make use of the council resources at their disposal and utilise the strong local business network.

"I'm only interested in making sure that businesses in Gravesend are as strong as they can be and how can we all help each other," he said.

Simon Hookway, assistant director for communities at Gravesham council commented on the potential implications of disruptions to travel.

He said: "Kent is very much at the front line depending on how long that disruption lasts.

"We are advising businesses to sign up to Highways Agency alerts and check before they travel and with suppliers of goods too."

He explained how Gravesham council had been instructed by the government to serve as a 'channel of communication'.

"We will be flagging up issues, particularly around the impact of traffic on travel. Waste collection is also a pertinent issue for us here in Gravesend," he added.

Council chief executive, David Hughes was on hand to address questions from the audience on a range of topics, including the government's Operation Yellowhammer document.

He said: "Government wants local authorities such as ourselves to be a conduit between it and businesses.

“This morning’s event gave us a chance to highlight key measures our local businesses should be taking now to be ready for Brexit, such as business continuity planning, planning ahead for possible disruption that might impact on staff, supplies and distribution networks.”

He told businesses the council was working as part of the Kent Resillience Forum to minimise any possible disruptions to traffic.

He explained a heat map had been drawn up by the government anticipating the most affected areas but Gravesend was not listed as being "significantly impacted".

Although he conceded there might "be some disruption in the Ebbsfleet/Northfleet area" with a significant amount of HGVs going into the area.

A free online checker for all businesses is available here.

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