Joint statement from Council leaders; Dominic Harrison’s latest update

Blackburn with Darwen Council leaders have released a joint statement as the Government confirmed today that it will be imposing Tier 3 restrictions on Blackburn with Darwen – as well as the whole of Lancashire – after the national lockdown ends.  The statement is available here: https://theshuttle.org.uk/local-civic-leaders-respond-to-tier-three-announcement/ and below:

The new regulations will come into force at 00.01am on Wednesday, December 2nd, so businesses permitted to re-open in Tier 3 can re-open on Wednesday.

Cllr Mohammed Khan, Denise Park and Dominic Harrison confirmed there had been no negotiations on which tier the borough should be placed in and the decision had been made solely by ministers.  While Blackburn with Darwen’s infection rate continues to fall it has been deemed this is not happening fast enough for the borough to be put in a lower tier.  The first available review date will be Wednesday, December 16th. The Council will review the latest data at the time and, if appropriate, will make a strong case to move to a lower tier as soon as possible.  

People classed as Clinically Extremely Vulnerable in Tier 3 areas are able to return to work and school from 3 December. They will receive a letter from the government next week with more detailed advice on taking precautions to keep themselves safe.

In a joint statement, Councillor Mohammed Khan, Leader of the Council, Professor Dominic Harrison, Director of Public Health and Wellbeing, Denise Park, Chief Executive of the Council said:

“We completely understand some of the anger and frustration of our residents by the Government’s decision. We have been under the toughest restrictions for months.  Residents and businesses are sick and tired of this pandemic and sick of the curbs on their freedoms especially as it feels they haven’t worked.  As local leaders, we do have to point out that policy making and messaging at a national level has not always been helpful to our efforts. A decade of cuts to public services has also impacted on our overall ability to tackle the pandemic, although we are proud of our response especially our Help Hub, our work with schools and our local test and trace system.

“We all want to get back to doing stuff we love – whether it’s meeting up with family, spending time with our friends, eating out, going down the pub, cheering Rovers on at Ewood Park, unhindered public worship or enjoying activities we used to take for granted.  But the fact remains, like many other areas in the country, our cases are too high. We are higher than the national average and hospital admissions are too high as well.  The only way we can get in a lower tier is continue to make progress and keep doing the basics, which helps protect ourselves and each other.

“We are often accused of scaremongering or allowing government to impose their rules for selfish reasons such as the Council filling its own coffers.  Such accusations are hurtful as we are passionate about serving our area and the brutal fact is budgets have been severely impacted as we led the local response. While the Government have provided some financial support it still falls short of what we need.  But let’s be frank. While the majority of people who catch it will be okay, this virus is a killer. People have died and families have lost loved ones. Even those who survive after becoming seriously ill can have debilitating long term conditions such as heart and lung problems.  If we allow this virus to spread unchecked, without intervention, the numbers of people dying or suffering horrible long term conditions would increase massively. That is not to mention the impact on schools, workplaces and public services if hundreds more people become ill with it.

“We know this virus has had a toll on people financially, mentally and physically. We are doing all we can at a local level to get our communities through this. There is support available.  Our plea to government is you need to deliver on your promises of support otherwise we are fighting this virus with one armed tied behind our back.”

You can also find Professor Dominic Harrison’s latest column for the Lancashire Telegraph here: https://theshuttle.org.uk/coronavirus-column-26nov/

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