Council calls on businesses in Tower Hamlets to have their say on Brexit

Brexit public services hearing

The commissioners hear evidence on public services

Businesses of all sizes and from all sectors across Tower Hamlets are being urged to have their say on the impact that Brexit could have on the borough’s economy.

The Tower Hamlets Brexit Commission was established to examine the likely impact of Brexit on the borough’s economy, its civil society and on the delivery of public services.

A panel of commissioners from the worlds of business, academia and the public sector has been assembled to examine evidence gathered through a series of written consultations and oral evidence hearings.

A final report, due to be published in January, will provide an assessment of the risks and opportunities related to Brexit, forming the basis for contingency planning and lobbying efforts. 

On October 30, an oral evidence hearing focusing on business and the economy will take place in Canary Wharf.

To inform the discussions that will take place at the hearing, the council is calling on the business community across Tower Hamlets to take the next two weeks to have its say by sharing insights, analysis and opinions about the likely impact of Brexit locally.

Being part of the conversation couldn’t be more straightforward. Submissions can be made by visiting www.towerhamlets.gov.uk/brexit and following the link to ‘have your say’.

The evidence hearing focusing on the economy and business will be the culmination of the second phase of the Brexit Commission’s work and follows a successful hearing on the delivery of public services that took place last week.

Experts in the fields of education, health and local government appeared before a panel of commissioners at the council’s town hall in Mulberry Place.

Representatives from organisations including Queen Mary University, Tower Hamlets College, Barts Health, the East London NHS Foundation Trust and the council itself provided evidence at the first of three planned hearings.

A wide range of issues was discussed during a session lasting more than five hours.

Queen Mary University staff raised concerns about the future of the Horizon 2020 and Horizon Europe programmes which support valuable research work and the funding that makes it possible.

Alison Arnaud, principal of Tower Hamlets College, identified ESOL programmes as being particularly vulnerable to a loss of EU funding, with replacement sources of in excess of £1m yet to be identified.

The panel did, however, identify a number of sectors, notably social care and health, where Brexit could provide a window of opportunity to upskill existing Tower Hamlets residents to fill job vacancies.

The commissioners heard detailed assessment from Barts Health about the impact that Brexit could potentially have on issues including staffing and the supply chain for drugs and other medical components.

They expressed a desire to work closely with the council to identify ways to look to the local community when it comes to responding to possible staffing shortages after Brexit.

Will Tuckley, Chief Executive of Tower Hamlets Council, acknowledged that Brexit has created an environment of uncertainty, particularly for the businesses community, but he offered a reassuring assessment of the resilience of local government and its capacity to respond to the challenges that may arise in the coming months and years.

The proceedings were broadcast live online and a video is now available to watch at www.towerhamlets.gov.uk/brexitlive

John Biggs, Executive Mayor of Tower Hamlets, said:

“The issues discussed at last week’s evidence session were among the most important to our residents. 

“We heard concerns from the NHS and the education sector about the uncertainty of Brexit and the impact on skills and supply networks.

“These evidence sessions are part of our ongoing work through the Tower Hamlets Brexit Commission to prepare the borough for its impact.” 

Cllr Amina Ali, Cabinet Member for Culture, Arts and Brexit and Chair of the Tower Hamlets Brexit Commission, said:

“I am grateful to all the witnesses who made time to give evidence to the commission this week, their testimony was insightful and will be of great assistance as we compile our final report.

“This is just the first of three such evidence hearings that we have planned with our business-focused event taking place at the end of the month.

“While these sessions allow us to hear from leaders of organisations and stakeholders, it is equally important that we hear from our residents too.

“I would encourage anyone with a view on the issue of how Brexit will impact the borough to visit www.towerhamlets.gov.uk/brexit and follow the link to have your say.”

Posted on Tuesday 9th October 2018