Northern council leaders propose new Coronavirus strategy to Government

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Northern council leaders propose new Coronavirus strategy to Government
Northern council leaders propose new Coronavirus strategy to Government

The leader of Leeds City Council, Judith Blake, has joined her counterparts in Manchester, Newcastle and Liverpool voice their concerns about “local lockdown” restrictions currently in place in their cities.

Coun Blake and her fellow leaders have written to health secretary Matt Hancock setting out an alternative plan for local measures, which they claim could be more effective in controlling infection rates.

Leeds, along with neighbouring authorities Bradford, Calderdale and Kirklees, is currently under local restrictions which forbid more than one household mixing in houses or gardens.

Current restrictions, including the 10pm curfew have also led to concerns over the impact the pandemic is having on the local hospitality sector.

It is the latest call from northern leaders on the Government, following a previous letter sent last week.

According to the letter, the five-point plan would allow for greater local decision-making – giving councils the power to agree additional lockdowns before they happen, as well as a locally-controlled version of the “test and trace” system to help minimise the spread of the virus.

It also listed: “An improved business compensation package to support those most affected”, “Financial support for everyone who needs to self-isolate”, and “Improved monitoring of the impacts of the additional restrictions that have recently been put in place to understand their effect on Covid-19 rates.”

Coun Blake said: “We have been working incredibly hard with our partners and communities to control the spread of COVID-19 in Leeds and there has been a real sense of collective will and civic pride at local level.

“But the fact is that in spite of that work, rates of infection are continuing to rise and the new and existing measures which have been imposed on Leeds are proving at best confusing and at worst ineffective and damaging to our residents and economy.

“Alongside cities across the north, we believe that measures developed and led locally will prove far more effective in controlling the spread of this terrible virus and will equip us to make sure help and support goes where it is needed most.

“They would also address the serious concerns we have about the impact the pandemic is having on the hospitality sector and the current 10pm curfew which is proving to be counter-productive and is encouraging people to gather and socialise elsewhere.

“To ignore the importance of local knowledge and understanding at this crucial juncture would be short-sighted and could risk undermining the progress we have made and the trust we have built up over the course of this incredibly difficult year.

“I hope the government will take our suggestions onboard and work with us to help steer our cities through the coming weeks and months safely and with confidence.”

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