WARRINGTON Borough Council chief executive Steven Broomhead gives his thoughts on patrol panic buying in his latest column.

When Captain Mainwaring, the fictional Home Guard captain, was told ‘don’t panic’ in the series Dad’s Army it always had the totally opposite effect.

This self-fulfilling statement has this week seen chaotic reactions to perceived shortages at supermarkets and petrol stations. The actual supply situation is not under pressure. In reality, supply of stocks are adequate but the distribution is not. It is a crisis of transport and the distribution, the causes of which are manifold.

It was an example of provoked buying, not panic buying, as communications, messaging and imagery activated people to respond in the fear that they would lose out and that they would be beaten by the low fuel light.

What has happened to the Brexit sunlit post-pandemic bouncing back economy? Perhaps we are even drifting towards stagflation, with economic growth slowing and price inflation rising due to problems in the supply chains for energy, recruitment to key roles and a shortage of materials, particularly in the construction sector?

As a town, we have always managed to ride out the worse of national economic challenges given the balance of our economic sectors. The fact that we have the largest cluster of businesses in the nuclear and environmental sector in Europe will be positive for our local economy. There will be a growth in nuclear power which will provide solutions to the energy crisis, as well as helping to fulfil the net zero aspirations that the government has set. Coal-fired energy is now virtually non-existent as the Fiddlers Ferry Power Station closure shows, and whilst wind and solar make valuable contributions they cannot be relied upon to meet our insatiable demand for energy. Energy security, cost and keeping the lights on will become the top national priority.

There is an urgent need to plan to meet the challenges. All governments in the past 50 years have failed to anticipate and adequately plan for crisis moments. We need to avoid an autumn of adversity. Any such plan would need to recognise that not all solutions can be driven by national government and it needs to trust in local organisations. The plan should include the reduction of the strangling bureaucracy of customs, regulations, the relaxation of immigration restrictions for certain sectors such as transport, investment in vocational training and further funding for local services which are facing unprecedented post pandemic demands.

Developing a plan which can be quickly and flexibly activated should be top priority and there are a number of us in the town’s community, elected and non-elected, who stand by to assist. Plans are only worthwhile if they can be worked by up the consensus, are realistic to providing solutions and can be rapidly implemented.