Council leader told about local lockdown just 20 minutes before PM statement

  Posted: 12.10.20 at 21:47 by James Kelly  

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The leader of Cheshire East Council has criticised the government’s lack of communication over the implementation of local lockdown restrictions announced today.

Cllr Sam Corcoran said he first heard that the borough would go into the ‘high’ tier of restrictions through the media and only received official confirmation 20 minutes before the prime minister’s announcement in parliament earlier today.

He told Nub News: “Contrary to what the prime minister said, he has not been negotiating with local councils, or at least he certainly hasn’t been engaging with Cheshire East Council.”

Cllr Corcoran added: “We were simply told today that we would be moving into tier 2.”

The Labour council leader said the government failed to respond to their requests for earlier intervention in September.

“The deputy leader, Cllr Craig Browne, and I wrote to the government on 22 September to ask for some modest powers. We asked for two things; one to enforce against establishments that weren’t following the rules and secondly powers over the test and trace system.”

The government also didn't reply to a further letter written jointly with Cheshire West and Chester and Warrington councils on 2 October detailing their plans to control the virus from a local level.

“The prime minister has said a ‘stitch in time saves nine’, well in this case because we didn’t act then the problem got worse. So in some ways, I’m pleased that some action has finally been taken,” Cllr Corcoran said.

He also called for adequate funding to be given to hospitality businesses in particular, which will be affected by the ban on households mixing.

Cllr Corcoran said: “You can’t have social mixing, so you can go to the pubs on your own or with your household, but you can’t meet friends in the pub. I think that will mean very few people will go to the pubs and pubs will therefore have to close because it’s not economical for them to run it with few people.”

Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced at this evenings press conference that all local authorities would receive and additional £1bn, with the Liverpool City Region given extra support in the 'Very High' tier of restrictions.

He added: “If your business can open safely, but with reduced or uncertain demand, the government will directly subsidise people’s wages over the winter.”

What does the ‘High’ tier mean for Cheshire East?

• People must not meet with anybody outside their household or support bubble in any indoor setting, whether at home or in a public place.

• People must not meet in a group of more than 6 outside, including in a garden or other space.

• People should aim to reduce the number of journeys they make where possible. If they need to travel, they should walk or cycle where possible, or to plan ahead and avoid busy times and routes on public transport.

• Schools, universities and places of worship remain open.

• All businesses and venues can continue to operate, in a COVID-Secure manner, other than those that remain closed in law, such as nightclubs.

• Weddings and funerals can go ahead with restrictions on the number of attendees.

Cheshire East Council has been named as a ‘high alert level’ areas on the government’s new coronavirus ranking. The news was confirmed by Pr...