BUSINESS leaders in west Dorset are calling for unity amid economic uncertainty following the decision for Britain to leave the European Union.

The immediate aftermath of the referendum result saw turmoil on the markets, with the FTSE plunging by more than seven per cent at one stage - while the value of sterling crashed.

The leader of Bridport's chamber of commerce has urged all firms to come together to ensure local voices are heard amid the uncertainty of the UK voting to leave the European Union.

President of Bridport Business Chamber, Richard Smith, said: "It is clear that the nation is very divided over this issue as are businesses and even families.

"The decision is made now and I think it is even more important for our business community to unite and support one another. I am urging all businesses, whether retail, service or tourism to join and engage with the chamber and make sure that as many voices can be heard on a local, regional and national level."

Martin Cox, director of West Dorset Leisure Holidays said it is too early to say what impact Brexit could have on the tourism industry.

Mr Cox, who is also the president of the European Federation of Campingsite Organisations and Holiday Park Associations, believes the weather may play more of an impact this year on local tourism trade - but if uncertainty continues into next year, is could create issues for the industry.

He said: "It is too early to assess the medium to long term impact of the referendum result on either local or national tourism. Over the next few days the interpretation of the Brexit vote and the reality of how the UK will move forward will become clear and hopefully some certainty will return.

"I do not believe that the changes in the currency rates over the last few days will have a significant impact on the occupancy levels and visitor spend for the remainder of this year. I should image that the weather will be more important.

Mr Cox added that his company is reviewing investment amid the uncertainty.

He added: "If the political and economic uncertainty continues into the autumn and possibility into next year there may be an impact on consumer confidence and holiday planning for 2017 which may extend into the purchase of more expensive items such as the replacement of caravans.

"The tourism industry is very resilient and we have shown in the past that we are able to adapt to changing circumstances not within our control and although I am concerned about many aspects of the current position and the possible outcomes; I am confident that tourism businesses will be cautious and make every effort to deal with the challenges ahead.

"On a personal note we are already reviewing our investment over the next 12 months in an attempt to match commitments to the uncertainty."

Chris McCaughey from estate agents Stags said: "The majority of factors that make people move will not change: births, deaths, marriage, separation, retirement, upsizing and downsizing, all do not stop, people’s lives continue and, therefore, the housing market keeps moving, with prices underpinned by the shortage of supply.

"Initial indications show no great surprises, property viewings at Stags are remaining constant, offers are being made and sales are being agreed. Existing sales are exchanging contracts, with very few sales falling through as a direct result of Thursday’s vote."

Bridport and Lyme Regis News:

Negotiating a new fishing deal 'difficult'

THE head of a Lyme Bay fishing reserve doesn’t believe leaving the EU will affect local fishers in the short-term – but has warned negotiating a better deals will be difficult.

Tim Glover, pictured, chairman of the Lyme Bay Fisheries and Conservation Reserve, said some local fishermen had in the past blamed the EU common fisheries policy (CFP) for problems with quotas.

He said: “Many have blamed the EU, but in fact, once total EU fishing limits are decided by the Council of Fisheries ministers, it then falls upon national governments to allocate quotas – so the tiny percentage of allocations our small-scale fishermen receive is down to the UK government alone. 

“There is much clamour from UK fishers wanting to claim back our seas which is a nice idea, but it may be difficult to negotiate in our waters which are not as isolated as countries like Iceland and Norway. Whether we like it or not, we have close European neighbours and closely-linked fisheries objectives so we will have to negotiate deals which are mutually acceptable and practical.

“I don’t think leaving Europe will affect Lyme Bay Reserve fishers greatly in the short to medium term but government policy and action on conservation and stock management, if not maintained and progressed as they would be under EU directives, could have a negative impact on the long-term sustainability of all UK fisheries. 

“The UK has voted to leave the EU and I hope we were all careful what we wished for.”

Bridport and Lyme Regis News:

NFU county chairman Trevor Cligg and branch chairman Tina Lester-Card

FARMERS across Dorset are braced for a period of “huge uncertainty” in the coming months, the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) says.

The NFU, which represents 48,000 UK farming businesses had backed the Remain campaign. Farmers benefit from more than £2 billion a year in subsidies from Europe’s Common Agricultural Policy, money which the Leave campaign promised to protect.

Branch chairman Trevor Cligg said: “Nothing is certain in any respect now, anything could happen over the next weeks, months and years.”

He said the focus over the next few months must be to shape a new Common Agricultural Policy in a way that will protect British agriculture and jobs. As well as exporting large amounts of produce to the EU, Britain’s farming industry hires regular seasonal labour from Europe.

Mr Cligg , who runs a 1,000 acre organic dairy farm with 600 cattle, said: “The only thing that is certain now is that there will be uncertainty. We will be trying our best to influence and shape whatever happens to the best advantage of members.”

Council delegate for Dorset in the NFU, Paul Harris, said it was not all ‘doom and gloom’ and that farmers were good at responding to a challenge.

He said: “It’s a whole new world we are living in and we have to adapt to it.”

He said there would have to be some support and direction from the government going forward with regards agriculture to ‘feed the nation and keep the countryside looking like it is.’