Portsmouth council tells government its new city Brexit funding is 'far too little far too late' as no-deal frustrations continue to mount

GOVERNMENT transport bosses have been told to ‘wake up and listen’ after funding to soften the blow of a no-deal Brexit at the city’s port was branded ‘far too little, far too late’.

Friday, 30th August 2019, 5:53 pm
Updated Saturday, 31st August 2019, 5:57 pm

It comes after the Department for Transport announced emergency planners in Hampshire will get £1.25million for city Brexit infrastructure.

The ring-fenced cash was allocated yesterday to help minimise traffic disruption at the border after the EU withdrawal deadline of October 31.

But city council bosses have said it fails to scratch the surface of the city's needs and accounts for little more than the £1m it has already spent.

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Portsmouth International Port. Picture: Sarah Standing (160744-841)

It comes after the council was given £150,000 for Brexit preparations, which last week was described by council leader Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson, as a ‘drop in the ocean'.

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‘We've been making the case for a very long time now that this needed proper consideration and proper funding and it's come at the 11th hour and 59th minute,' said councillor Steve Pitt, Portsmouth City Council's deputy leader.

‘That money is only enough to triage any issues we have with freight build-up for 25 days after Brexit actually happens, if it's going to be on October 31. What happens after that, UK government, can you tell us please?’

Deputy Council Leader Cllr Steve Pitt

Until yesterday the city had been given £496,362 to prepare for a no-deal scenario, including £286,362 in two port-related instalments.

But the council says it has already spent £1,007,584.38 preparing for the situation and the potential traffic congestion it could bring.

This includes £492,584.38 for the Tipner lorry park and £150,000 for changes to the road network, including a reduction in the M275 speed limit – which was undone after just a few days because of a six-month delay to a previous Brexit deadline of April 12.

Even with a potential £1m now up for grabs as part of a new DfT Port Infrastructure Resilience and Connectivity competition, Cllr Pitt said all the funding in its entirety would only help the port for 25 days after Brexit, not the six weeks local experts say is needed.

‘Even the £1.25m, the £1m potentially to the port and the bit of money they've given us so far, we are still out of pocket,’ he said.

'We told the government it needed to prepare, it wouldn't listen, now it finally is listening but very late in the game and we still need more money.’

In response to Cllr Pitt, the Department for Transport said Britain would be prepared to leave the EU on October 31 ‘whatever the circumstances' and would continue to work closely with local resilience forums in the meantime.

It added a further £15m will go toward long-term UK projects to boost road and rail links to ports and speed up freight haulage.