Following reports that West Yorkshire is heading into Tier 3 restrictions, Imran Hussain MP has blasted negotiations between Ministers and local authority leaders as a sham and box-ticking exercise by the Government.
Imran’s comments come after his speech in Parliament last week describing the fear of local people about Tier 3 restrictions and a statement yesterday by Cllr Susan Hinchcliffe, the Leader of Bradford Council and Chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority that the Government only called Bradford Council into discussions at the beginning of this week and that the Government are “unflinching in their resolve” to place Bradford and West Yorkshire into Tier 3 restrictions.
On Tuesday 27 October, Imran attended the second of two meetings with Ministers from the Department for Health and Social Care on the rising number of cases in Bradford and West Yorkshire, but despite the alarm that he expressed about the lack of meaningful discussions, little detail were provided by Ministers on what negotiations the Government had started, what had already been discussed, and what support would be provided to West Yorkshire if moved into Tier 3 restrictions.
Imran has also reiterated the call he made in Parliament last week for the Government to guarantee that West Yorkshire does not receive less per person in financial support than that which was announced for Liverpool, Lancashire and South Yorkshire after the Government decided to place those regions under Tier 3 restrictions. According to Imran, this would mean that West Yorkshire must receive £75 million as a starting point for discussions, with further support to acknowledge the region’s high rate of deprivation and additional challenges.
Speaking on the negotiations for West Yorkshire being placed under Tier 3 restrictions, Imran said:
“Every day we hear more news about how West Yorkshire is heading for Tier 3 restrictions, but we hear very little from the Government about what support they would provide for those businesses forced to close, those who will be left out of work and those who will see their wages cut. It is time that the Government provided answers on this before threatening my constituents with further harsh restrictions.
“Ministers insist that they are negotiating with West Yorkshire leaders, but it is plain for all to see that these negotiations are a tick-boxing exercise and sham. Instead of entering into these negotiations with open minds and listening to what local experts need to get control over the spread of Coronavirus, the Government are set on forcing West Yorkshire into stricter restrictions without setting out in advance what financial support will be provided to protect jobs and to boost local testing capacity.
“I am of course deeply concerned by the dramatic rise in the number of positive Coronavirus cases in West Yorkshire and across the country, and I am alarmed at the increased toll that this is taking on our NHS locally, but I do not believe that centrally imposed restrictions in different areas like West Yorkshire, which create deep uncertainty for people and businesses with no guarantee that they will work are the way forward.
“Instead we need the Government to step up and provide the assistance, the financial backing and the expertise that local authorities in West Yorkshire are calling for to support our local response in ensuring that those who need to self-isolate have the support to do so, that businesses who’ve taken financial hits are compensated and protected, and that local testing capacity and capability is increased.”