A COUNCIL is bracing itself for food, fuel and essential medicine shortages in the case of a no-deal Brexit, campaigners have discovered.

Darlington Borough Council was the only local authority regionally to respond fully to a Freedom of Information request, detailing what risks might be involved if the UK leaves the EU without a deal on October 31.

Council bosses revealed in documents that they were braced for "near-certain" shortages of fuel, food and essential medicines in the case of a no-deal.

Freedom of Information requests from the People’s Vote campaign unearthed the “risk register” compiled by council officials that lists various threats for families, services and businesses if a no-deal Brexit takes place.

Darlington’s risk register highlights concerns about the availability of food for local food banks and states that council planners are worried NHS and social care services in the area could run out of protective and hygiene sensitive equipment.

Among the risks highlighted in Darlington’s register are:

  • "Shortage of food and other essential supplies for vulnerable people."
  • "Essential supplies to enable the safe and effective delivery of care and support may run short. This may include protective wear (aprons, gloves) and cleaning products. This may compromise hygiene and increase risk of infection."
  • Supply shortages "may affect fuel costs and other overheads."
  • "Lack of supplies relating to essential goods could impact on the well-being of vulnerable adults. Cost of goods may increase as supplies are challenged. Those in poverty may be unable to purchase supplies."
  • "Potential reduced availability of food at food banks impacting on the vulnerable’. This was listed as a "critical" impact.

Local campaigner Andrew Newens, who is a member of both NE4EU and Tees4Europe, said: “The concerns identified here are not hyperbole from politicians in the Remain campaign or exaggeration by journalists. They are the sober assessment of public officials in Darlington dedicated to the provision of key services from housing to traffic and waste management.

“This is not ‘project fear’ so much as ‘project here’ because the impact on council services will affect thousands of people in Darlington.

“At a time when the Prime Minister is saying he would be prepared to impose this kind of Brexit on the British people, these risk registers should provide a wake-up call to both politicians and the public.”

A Darlington Borough Council spokesman said: “As any responsible authority, and as part of the North East Local Resilience Forum, councils have a responsibility to assess possible risks and to prepare with key partners for a number of potential scenarios and outcomes in the short term.”

Durham County Council said it had established a Brexit working group to work to reduce the impacts on the community after saying a no deal had "the potential to adversely affect the economy, safety and welfare of the county".

Stockton Borough Council had not replied to the FOI request, while Middlesbrough and Hartlepool local authorities refused to disclose any information on no-deal planning.

Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council supplied minimal information, while North Yorkshire had not been sent an FOI request yet, the People’s Vote campaign said.

Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen said he had not been made aware of any concerns but said the Combined Authority’s remit was more the economic impact of no-deal, and he was working with local businesses, particularly in the processing sector, to look at the possible impact on companies in the area.

He added: “I think it is correct to plan for the worst-case scenario."