I ENDORSE the comments of Ian Girling, Chief Executive of the Dorset Chamber, (Daily Echo, January 3) in worrying about business and our local economy generally when it comes to staffing issues, particularly post-Brexit.

The cornerstone of Bournemouth as a coastal resort is tourism, but sectors such as elderly care and the NHS are also highly vulnerable to a shrinking labour force.

We are already seeing a decline in the numbers coming to work here from abroad, be that from Europe or anywhere else in the world, and that trend is gathering pace.

Whichever side of the Brexit argument you support, there is a predictable and looming crisis heading towards us and the warning signs are already apparent.

The potential effect on many of our currently thriving service businesses locally is very worrying. At greatest risk are those services which rely on a constant pool of labour to work in kitchens, restaurants and bars, those who staff our care homes and hospitals, and those many people who make up the numbers in a whole host of other ways that we currently take for granted.

Trade bodies and employers to whom I speak are deeply concerned that the arguments over immigration, particularly around those who fill lower paid and semi-skilled jobs, will make it much harder for people to stay, let alone enter the UK, leading to severe disruption and fast increasing costs to fill vital jobs in our local economy. The fundamental problem is of course that there is already a shortage of available people to fill these jobs in this part of the country. Aside from the inflationary risks in the cost of labour, the impact will be felt by local businesses across Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole. We need a change of focus in terms of UK policy and we need it now, before the tide of workers simply go elsewhere in Europe and leave us with a growing shortage in many vital services at a time of record high employment numbers.


Leader of Bournemouth council