A Lancashire council leader who had accused the government of bullying the region into accepting tier 3 coronavirus restrictions has suggested most leaders there do not believe tightened measures will curb infection rates.
Mohammed Iqbal, head of Pendle District Council, slammed the region’s new rules, saying: “I don’t think these restrictions will control coronavirus in Pendle or in Lancashire as a whole …
“It was repeatedly pointed out to government officials by Lancashire leaders that targeting just the hospitality sector is not enough.”
The north west was placed into the highest bracket of the government’s new tier 3 Covid 19 system on Friday following fraught negotiations between local politicians and government officials.
It means pubs, bars and casinos have been closed down there, while people cannot meet with members of other households in almost any setting.
But, in a revelation which will alarm other regional leaders facing similar talks in coming weeks, Councillor Iqbal said: “Boris Johnson’s officials led by Sir Ed Lister were unwilling to listen to any evidence and worryingly for the public could not present to leaders any forward plan on how 10 Downing Street’s proposal will control the virus.
“Schools, retail, the workplace and a minority of non-compliant individuals are where most of the coronavirus transmission occurs. Officials refused to take that public health evidence on board and said that these other areas of significant transmission were off-limits.”
The Labour leader told the Lancashire Telegraph: “Throughout the negotiations, government officials were only interested in the politics and threatened any district leader who did not fall into line with 10 Downing Streets that their borough ‘would become an island’ that would receive much less in funding and resource.”
The criticism follows other leaders expressing disquiet at how discussions had unfolded.
Paul Foster, the Labour leader of South Ribble Council, had said: “We’ve [been] bullied, harassed, threatened and blackmailed into moving into tier three.
“The government basically said they would place residents into more draconian measures in those districts that didn’t agree to a deal.”
The new rules – which it is understood will see the region receive £42 million in financial support – came into force at a minute midnight on Saturday.