The leader of Lancashire County Council has called for local politicians to have more say in the decision making process behind the Government’s Covid-19 tier system. Well, spare us from this verbal tripe!
The leader has a CBE. I doubt it was awarded for excellence in Covid-19 and what that pandemic has brought us. Some political nonentities are routinely given these meaningless gongs just because they turn up and take the party line and the allowances that go with them.
The leader said he was extremely disappointed that the whole of Lancashire will be placed in Tier 3 restrictions when the current lockdown expires on Wednesday. Actually I’m disappointed in the bullshit that divides the county and the boroughs. Opinions don’t count, it’s facts, science and professionalism that do. Just down the road from us Liverpool’s main Hospital Trust has the third highest number of Covid-19 deaths in England. And as we showed yesterday, within our own borough, in the last week, contrast Skelmersdale Ashurst that recorded a total of 406 infections, up 9.1% (24 new cases) with Hesketh Bank & Tarleton recorded a total of 92.2, down 66.7% (8 new cases). Which tiers would he put them in?
Alongside leaders from other councils in Lancashire the leader had proposed that the county be divided into two different tiers to reflect the areas different coronavirus rates.
This would have meant Fylde, Wyre, Lancaster, Chorley, South Ribble, Ribble Valley and West Lancashire going into the lower Tier 2 restrictions. The rate of Coronavirus cases might be reducing right across the county, but there is a wide gap between the highest and lowest rates. The leader said it is always a balance between protecting lives and protecting livelihoods, and getting that balance right will always be difficult. Sorry but it’s too difficult, and dangerous, for me to be in his hands.
He said we know there are still serious pressures on the hospitals and we really want to see that number come down. We also know rates have come down significantly since the time when we were placed in the original Tier 3, three weeks before this lockdown began and in the west and north of the county this is particularly pronounced.
He said was naturally disappointed by the decision to put the whole county into the same tier, and would be speaking to the Government about what the measures will be for coming out of Tier 3. He also thinks it is important that local leaders have more input on these decisions as we know our areas best. Rubbish. What does he know about West Lancashire?
He will also be stressing that more support should be available to people who test positive so that they can afford to self isolate. He would ask that everyone in Lancashire continues to work together and follows the rules to drive the infection rate down even further to strengthen our argument that restrictions should be eased. And he would also like to thank everyone for their sacrifices throughout this difficult and unprecedented time.
I don’t want his thanks. I want a national spirit of stubborn defiance against this pandemic by everyone isolating safely and helping our NHS. Have you noticed the fleeting mention of the NHS in his speech, of “hospitals”? This Lancashire leader has forgotten the scenes we all see. Perhaps it’s because his party has put it up for sale, what with the Virgin Care sell-out in our borough to name just one?
So while he contemplates his navel from the comfort of the leader’s parlour, or whatever, the real fight against Covid-19 takes place in hospital wards and operating theatres. They are the nearest places to complete devotion and commitment any of us will ever see.
And now turn to Rosie Cooper who yesterday wrote “Once again, the Government has used a sledgehammer to crack a nut. Instead of dealing with Coronavirus based on the science and figures, lazily they have just decided on their tier levels at a County level without due regard to local variances.
“Ignoring the facts of the situation, including falling Covid rates locally here in West Lancashire and the calls by local leaders, Government has continued with restrictions, disruption and misery for my West Lancashire constituents and businesses who will now remain in severe restrictions until at least 16 December despite the reducing levels of Covid”.
Local variances? Science and figures? Skelmersdale Ashurst and Hesketh Bank & Tarleton? Which tier for them, Rosie?
And our third great leader, WLBC’s Ian Moran who writes “The news that West Lancashire will be placed in Tier 3 which is the “very high alert” level when the national lockdown ends next week is a devastating blow to our business and local communities.
“We have all worked so hard to get the number of Coronavirus cases down and this decision today does not feel consistent especially as we are in a better place here than some areas of the country who have gone into a lower tier.
“All the Council Leaders across Lancashire requested a more targeted approach so for areas such as West Lancashire businesses could operate safely and keep our local economy moving and this request has not been considered. We do want everyone to be safe but this blanket approach means that communities and businesses are being restricted unnecessarily by this decision.
“I am very angry about this decision and that we have not been listened to. I am extremely concerned that the hospitality sector which is so important in West Lancashire may not fully recover from this decision today and we will continue to keep working to get out of this tier as soon as we possibly can”.
Consistency? Skelmersdale Ashurst and Hesketh Bank & Tarleton? Which tier for them Ian? Which will you target? And how?
Here’s where we stand