UNCERTAINTY around Brexit will put local authorities in Oxfordshire at risk, a Labour councillor has warned.

Cherwell District Council end-of-year accounts reveal it has set aside £17,000 to help deal with any Brexit-related problems, however it is not clear what these issues might be or what the money is actually for.

Now the council's Labour group leader Sean Woodcock has said the possible local effects of Brexit must be addressed and residents informed.

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In a letter to this paper, he said: "As we head inexorably towards ‘no deal’, we are being told that this country will be more than ready to crash out of a trading and customs relationship that we have been part of for the last 40 plus years.

"Disruption to business supply chains or to the housing market, particularly pertinent in this area, would hit councils' bottom line causing a knock-on effect for local services.

"Away from talk of food and medical shortages, it is time for local Conservatives to be honest with people about the impact of their ‘Brexit come-what-may’ policy."

Mr Woodcock pointed out that councils across the UK are already stretched with budgets being slashed, including Cherwell’s, since 2010.

He added: "As a result, much of the funding for local services and infrastructure comes not from Council Tax or government grants, but from business rates and New Homes Bonus.

"A ‘no deal Brexit’ and the uncertainty around it therefore pose a significant risk to councils."

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With more than 10,000 homes being built in Bicester between 2011 and 2031, any Brexit effect on developer finances or housing sales could have a major impact on the district.

Asked whether Graven Hill, one of the biggest developments in Bicester, could struggle after Brexit, managing director Karen Curtin said: “Like all developers and housebuilders, we are aware of current market challenges posed by Brexit and are planning accordingly."

One business owner in Bicester is already feeling the strain of Brexit.

Graham Nash, who runs Nash’s Bakery, said he is struggling due to the uncertainty.

The 76-year-old previously told this paper: “We’re working hard to achieve a bright future but Brexit has been disastrous for us.

"It has been our toughest time because people don’t know what’s going to happen. We want it solved so that we know what the situation is.”

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Anne Veck, owner of Anne Veck hair salon in Crown Walk, said she was particularly worried about product supply as her main supplier uses Dover for importing products into the country.

Ms Veck said: "No one really knows how supply logistics will work out after Brexit with customs clearances and border checks, so we might come across a few bumps that need ironing out.

"Our main supplier uses Dover for importing products into the country, but they’ve opened new import routes now to minimise the effect on customers, so we’re hoping supply delay won’t affect us."

The hairdresser has employed people from France, Poland and other EU countries on a regular basis over the past 10 years and so recruitment is another concern due to the potential £30,000 minimum wage requirement for employing any foreign national.

She added: "Young, talented professionals come to us wanting to work for Anne Veck Salons, and to be part of the British hairdressing industry, but after Brexit it's possible this will end. The figure would be a barrier to us employing emerging talent wherever they may come from in the world.”

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Councillor Ian Corkin, lead member for customers and transformation at Cherwell District Council, said: "All councils in the UK were provided with grant funding by central government in 2018/19 and will receive further grant in 2019/20 in case any extra expenditure is incurred over and above normal budgets related to Brexit.

"Cherwell District Council set aside the £17,000 already received last year to deal with any extra expenditure as it arises in this year.

"We can reassure residents that Cherwell District Council has been liaising with the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government to prepare for the UK’s departure from the EU, including providing advice to communities and businesses, which can be found on our website cherwell.gov.uk."