Councils 'to keep Brussels offices' post-Brexit

Birmingham and Bristol councils plan to maintain offices in Brussels after the UK leaves the European Union, according to reports.

Birmingham, which also voted 50.5 per cent to 49.5 per cent to leave the EU, has also written to DWP calling on ministers to end uncertainty about the future of European regeneration funding allocated to the UK for 2014-2020, the Independent reports.

Since the 1980s, Birmingham has received over £1bn in EU funding, which has contributed to the development of the NEC, the International Convention Centre and the Town Hall, it added.

Meanwhile, Bristol's elected mayor Marvin Rees said keeping a presence in Brussels will ensure the council is "best placed to protect out city's interests".

"It has played an important part in collaborating with European partners, maintaining an understanding of what EU policy means for the city and securing funding for local projects which benefit the people of Bristol," he said. Bristol voted 61.7 per cent for Remain.

The cities follow Cornwall Council, which told the Independent earlier this week that it will keep its office in Brussels post-Brexit to "keep an ear to ground" about funding opportunities available to non-EU countries.

In the wake of the Leave vote, the council called for guarantees that its European funding would be protected and it will not be worse off because of Brexit - despite the county's residents voting 56.5 per cent to 43.5 per cent to leave the European Union.

The Local Government Association has warned of a "growing risk" that economic uncertainty following the Brexit vote will see communities miss out on EU funding because Whitehall will be tempted to hold on to cash not yet released to local growth and infrastructure projects.

It has called on the Government to ensure that councils receive "every penny" of the £5.3bn allocated to the EU for 2014-2020.