No Brexit day celebrations planned for Southend, says council leader

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No ‘Brexit Day’ celebrations are planned for Southend when the UK leaves the European Union on January 31, the leader of the council has confirmed.

With just a week left before Brexit, politicians have been calling for celebrations ranging from ringing church bells to flying flags but for Southend it is to be business as usual.

Council leader, Councillor Ian Gilbert, confirmed that there are no plans for any celebrations and instead the council will focus on delivering services.

He said: “We are not planning any Brexit Day celebrations, as we focus on the continuing challenges of running our services and working to make lives better for local people.

“Whilst the immediate impact after January 31 is expected to be limited and Operation Yellowhammer has been stood down nationally, there is still great uncertainty over what will happen when the transition period expires at the end of 2020.

“This is why we continue to work constructively with partners in the public, private and voluntary sectors across the county, and help residents and businesses access Government information about Brexit and the EU settlement scheme for example.

“The council’s Brexit working group also continues to meet regularly to assess the implications for the borough and council and we continue to encourage local businesses to prepare too.

“While EU funded projects will continue to receive support to the end of their term, there is a need for swift decisions from funders and Government to enable ongoing support and advice to be provided.”

In neighbouring Basildon, it could be a very different story after Basildon Council’s deputy leader Councillor Kerry Smith urged his colleague to consider a big celebration to mark “becoming a sovereign nation after four decades of being told what to do from across the channel”.

Leading Brexiteer and Rayleigh MP Mark Francois has also been calling for national celebrations and recently offered to raise money to bring Big Ben back into operation so the bell can ring on January 31.

Steve Shaw

Local Democracy Reporter

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