Published: 09:33, 31 January 2020
| Updated: 14:51, 03 February 2020
County council chiefs insist that leaving the EU will not affect its determination to continue forging links with other countries.
Kent County Council leader Roger Gough said: “With Britain leaving the EU tonight, our bilateral relationships with neighbouring authorities across the Channel has become even more important.
“We have a number of shared interests on which we need to work together from the economy, transport and environmental issues, to young people and promoting the culture, heritage and attractiveness of coastal and local communities.”
KCC would “strengthen and build on its relationship with Europe and neighbouring local authorities on the Continent.”
“I will continue to give a high level of importance to maintaining and developing those relationships,” said Cllr Gough.
A question mark has been raised over the government's plans to replace EU funding that councils have been able to secure under various schemes.
The government announced in 2016 that a UK ‘Shared Prosperity Fund’ would be launched as a replacement for EU domestic funding in the UK but there has not been any details on how this would operate.
A report to county councillors in November last year said: “Detail on the funding however has not been published and no formal consultation about the fund have yet
been launched (initially this should have taken place in 2018) so it is still unclear what may be available to Kent in the future.”
Cllr Mike Whiting, cabinet member for Economic Development, said: “After Brexit, that isn’t the end of our relationship - we want to create new partnerships.I will be going to France on February 5 to launch the Straits Committee, a new initiative for strengthening links with our neighbours on the continent. Businesses will have the chance to meet counterparts from our neighbouring Belgian, Dutch and French regions and take part in a programme of workshops on economic development, climate change, green growth and young people.”
“The Straits Committee intends to provide a place where people, business and communities can shape an agenda for working together on issues and opportunities facing the shared border area.”