West Lancashire Failed By Government As Tier 3 Lockdown To Come In? Not enough money?
The Labour leader of West Lancashire Borough Council has apparently launched a furious attack on the Tory government after the county was placed in the strictest Tier 3 restrictions.
Cllr Ian Moran has accused the government of “failing” the people throughout the Covid-19 crisis and says leaders were forced to accept new restrictions or have them imposed anyway. “Reluctantly I have been forced to put West Lancashire into Tier 3 for a four-week period. Government have repeatedly failed to manage this crisis and failed the people of West Lancashire.
“Talks have been ongoing for days to secure a financial support package to be able to support our vulnerable and shielding residents and the impact on local businesses, job losses and loss of income for workers.
“As a county, government offered just £12m in support, while Lancashire Leaders argued that £50m was much closer to what was needed.
After days of increasingly hostile negotiations, £30m of additional funding was eventually agreed and Cllr Moran says this only happened amid the threat of more stringent restrictions which he fears could have forced businesses to go bust.
He said “The government have now offered £30m, but tell us that if we don’t move to Tier 3 now they will impose on us anyway and provide less financial support. The government has threatened West Lancashire with much stricter closures if we don’t sign up, including the closure of our leisure centres and gyms and possibly hairdressers and beauty salons. I believe if they imposed these measures many would close and never return.
“We have been placed in an impossible situation of deciding between the numbers of lives affected and lost in either scenario. Our COVID numbers are rising day by day and we must do something to address this, but we must protect our local economy, the long term mental health of our workforce and residents along with the risks of poverty that could come through job losses.
“The money we have secured we argue must be provided immediately to enable the council to support our most vulnerable residents, and the businesses and workers directly impacted upon”.
Coronavirus isn’t party political. Nor are the most vulnerable residents. We are elderly, often in poor health, and relying on sensible people to play by the safest scientific evidence rather than political dogma. WLBC has massive unused financial reserves for such a small council, paid by taxpayers. Scrounging for more taxpayers’ cash is disgraceful. What comes first in this borough, cash or the protection of its vulnerable residents? When this pandemic is over, will we count the cost of how many vulnerable residents lost their lives against how we saved our “useable” reserves?