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Haulage firms warn of damaging impact of no-deal Brexit future

PUBLISHED: 17:30 28 September 2018 | UPDATED: 17:30 28 September 2018

Jack Richards & Sons items being loaded ready for delivery at the depot in Fakenham. Picture: Matthew Usher.

Jack Richards & Sons items being loaded ready for delivery at the depot in Fakenham. Picture: Matthew Usher.

© ARCHANT NORFOLK 2016

Alarm bells are ringing for international haulage firms, who are having a “very, very tough time” due to the looming potential of a no-deal Brexit in six months time.

Jack Richards & Sons managing director Peter Brown at the depot in Fakenham. Picture: Matthew Usher.Jack Richards & Sons managing director Peter Brown at the depot in Fakenham. Picture: Matthew Usher.

If no trade deal is reached, the UK could be faced with customs barriers which could leave freight forwarders facing mountains of paperwork to get clients’ goods into Europe. However business leaders in Norfolk said that until a deal, if any, is reached, planning is near impossible.

Peter Brown, managing director of Jack Richards, said: “Irrespective of the outcome, we just need to know what the deal will be so we can prepare.

“We’re having problems manning the trucks because there’s no young people coming into driving careers. The average age of the drivers is 55 so people are retiring, and the 16% of our workforce who are eastern European are leaving due to uncertainty or better pay.”

Tony Ludlan is the owner of Orbital Freight, which has been in business in Norwich since 1989. He said: “I’m less worried about Brexit than others because I can remember the industry before we joined the EU.

“I think there’s two ways it can go: we could go back to a customs clearance where products would be cleared out of the UK, and then cleared back in. Or, it could be as small as one document.

“Documentation could take months, and although no one wants that to happen it’s a possibility until someone decides.”

Mr Ludlan said attempting to prepare for Brexit was futile, adding: “Brexit is not going to make life easier, but until we have an answer we can’t make a plan.”

And with Brexit just six months away, the British Chamber of Commerce has revealed that 62% of UK companies have not completed a risk assessment ahead of the trade negotiations.

Nova Fairbank of the Norfolk Chamber of Commerce said: “Too many businesses across Norfolk are still not ready for Brexit. Many smaller firms don’t have the capacity to scenario plan, don’t think they’ll be affected, or have simply switched off from the process altogether.

“Norfolk firms still don’t have answers from government to the most basic questions about future trading conditions. With so much still unclear, a transition period is vital to allow all firms the time to acknowledge and prepare for change.”

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