St Helens could be left under-protected if civil unrest erupts across the region following a no-deal Brexit, a Labour councillor has warned.
Rioting on the streets is one of the scenarios outlined in the government’s Operation Yellowhammer document, which it was forced to publish last month.
The document, which outlines a series of “reasonable worst-case assumptions”, also warns of food price rises and reduced medical supplies if the UK leaves the EU without a deal on October 31.
Further concerns were raised by St Helens Council’s overview and scrutiny commission on Monday during a discussion about the local authority’s own no-deal preparations.
Labour’s Dennis McDonnell, ward councillor for Billinge and Seneley Green, said a no-deal Brexit is a “two-pronged attack” that threatens the health and safety of the borough’s residents.
Coun McDonnell said: “It’s predicted that you’re going to get some social unrest and our police force is very, very, very small.
“And our police force is likely to be taken out of our area because we’re not a big city where there’s likely to be great unrest.
“It would leave us with no police at all trying to deal with these situations.”
Caroline Barlow, deputy director of finance and HR, said the council is working with Merseyside Police and other community safety partners to understand some of the issues that could arise should civil unrest occur.
She also revealed the council has spent £50,000 on a storage tank to store fuel due to fears of diesel shortages.
This will be funded from the £315,000 the council expects to receive from the government to prepare for Brexit.
Ms Barlow said work needs to be completed at the Hardshaw Brook Depot to ensure the tank is stored safely but assured councillors this will be completed by the current Brexit deadline of October 31.
Outside of the council, Cloun McDonnell questioned whether there was going to be enough fuel to keep the emergency services running.
“It’s a really big threat to our community,” Coun McDonnell said.
“Risk and our resilience has got to be up to standard and we’ve got to make sure that it is.”
A report outlining several worst-case scenarios where council services may be affected by a no-deal Brexit was published by St Helens Council last month.
The report warns that potential fuel shortages could affect the care some elderly residents receive in their home and in residential facilities.
Suppliers have assured the council that will continue to be supplied if a severe shortage occurs and that the local authority remains a “top priority”.
A fuel plan is currently in place for managing potential fuel disruption, which the report says will be reviewed and updated.
Despite action being taken to mitigate some of the potential impacts, Green Party councillor David O’Keefe said the report made for “stern reading”.
Labour councillor John Wiseman said St Helens has some of the most socially deprived areas in Merseyside outside of Liverpool
Coun Wiseman said in areas such as his own ward, Bold, low earners are going to be really impacted by a no-deal Brexit.
This was reiterated by former deputy leader of the council, Andy Bowden, who said it will be the “poorest and most vulnerable” who will be the worst-affected by a no-deal Brexit.
Coun Kate Groucutt, cabinet member for corporate services, estates and communication, said the government’s own analysis of a no-deal Brexit self-concluded that low income groups will be disproportionally affected by price rises in food and fuel.
She added that the council’s action plan is “constantly being reviewed”.
Coun Groucutt said: “Colleagues are absolutely right about some of the severe and worrying implications of this.
“And with this paper and the work that’s been going on we have not been able to say to residents, we are going to be able to protect you from a no-deal Brexit across all of those areas because we simply cannot with the powers and the functions and the budget we have.
“That is for others to answer for, specifically the section of the governing party and the Prime Minister who are determined to push ahead with this.”