MEDICINE shortages, chaos at ports and a lack of food – just some examples of what we’ve been warned to expect following a no-deal Brexit.

In these uncertain political times, it is easy to get confused amongst all the noise coming from both sides of the debate.

Some say we’re better off with a fresh start which a no-deal exit would bring, but others say this will lead to job losses and could even put lives at risk.

Parliament has now stepped in and has legislated to block a no-deal exit from the EU, but councils, businesses and organisations across north Essex have already been preparing, for months and even years.

Colchester Council will be less caught up than its counterparts at county level and staff working in the NHS.

It doesn’t have overseas investments and doesn’t control any international ports.

But the authority has had to step up preparations due to uncertainty and complications.

Leader of the council Mark Cory said: “We know there will be an impact on fuel supplies so we have got a full tanker which is regularly filled up for our refuse lorries.

“If no deal occurs, which is the worst case scenario, it may effect procurement.

“If delays at the ports run on for some time we will be affected. That can be fuel or things we are buying from other countries.

“We are well set up with using a lot of local contractors but we are also working with the police and responsible authorities to monitor things like civil unrest.

“We do not know how bad it may be but we are working hard to ensure we are prepared.

“We will also have to do more to support our colleagues. We are the closest authority to our residents and we will be supporting them and there will be gaps we might have to fill.”

Warnings of civil unrest may seem extreme, but councils have to be prepared for the worst before hoping for the best.

Essex County Council has detailed the potential risks of a no-deal exit from the EU on the authority.

EU grant funded projects will, of course, be affected, although only after 2020, and the authority acknowledges there will be changes to rules and regulations which it will need to legislate for.

Supply chains may be disrupted and no-deal would bring changes to the recruitment and management of the council’s staff, of which there are thousands.

County Hall also says its income could change, which could have a knock on effect on the authority’s finances, something Mr Cory also acknowledged was also a risk for Colchester Council.

He said: “There are secondary effects which will hit us and our residents and businesses.

“Some people may no longer be able to pay council tax or businesses may not be able to pay their business rates.”

In the heath service many of the possible effects of a no-deal Brexit are easier to pinpoint.

Many doctors, nurses and hospital staff are EU nationals whose rights, some say, have been used as bargaining chips in the Brexit negotiations.

There are also reports of worries over problems with the supply of some medicines.

Nick Hulme, chief executive of Colchester Hospital, insists the hospital is well prepared.

“Given that we know it is highly probable that we will be leaving the EU on October 31, we are mindful of the logistics of fuel, food and social care,” he said.

“We are dealing with a great unknown but I am confident that we have the right teams, right experience and right leadership in place.”

Mr Cory added: “I think the potential no-deal situation is pushing us closer towards a cliff edge.

“Most people did not vote for a no-deal Brexit and we are being forced down this route.”

But Jon Woods, the Brexit Party’s candidate for Colchester, said it was not as bleak as painted.

He said not paying the EU’s £39 billion divorce bill would undeniably boost the UK’s economy.

Mr Woods, who runs four freight and transport firms, said: “Our Government has been preparing the freight industry since before Christmas to get us ready for a potential border which might be created if there is no-deal.

“We are ready for changes but people do not put these stories out there.

“You only hear the scare stories.”