Leader of Warrington Borough Council, Cllr Russ Bowden, has appealed to government to work closely with the council before making further decisions on coronavirus restrictions.
Following further enhanced restrictions announced for the North East, where different households are banned from mixing indoors, including in restaurants and pubs, Cllr Bowden has urged the government to consult with the council before making any further decisions.
Cllr Bowden said: “A big problem we have as a council is that we aren’t being told what the restriction changes will be until they are publicly announced. We need a constructive dialogue on what decision could be made in advance, with a chance for us to negotiate and find the right local solutions.
“Warrington isn’t part of some broad homogenous area, and it would be damaging for our town to have further restrictions, like a “circuit break” for example, imposed on us as part of a wider regional decision, unless we have the opportunity to discuss our needs directly with government first. We’ve heard suggestions about this two-week “circuit break” in Merseyside – where the hospitality sector would close down, but schools and other workplaces would likely remain open – and I’ve got real concerns that it would cripple an already struggling hospitality sector and provide added uncertainty for many local jobs.
“Government edicts are making things really challenging for us. When they announce new measures on hospitality and curfews, for example, our enforcement officers are required to support the effort to ensure our premises are COVID-secure and are closing on time, at 10pm. But this huge surge in demand for our teams, without any extra funding or support for them, makes things extremely challenging. Any other measures or restrictions announced, absolutely need to be matched with the funding and resources we require.
“Councils across the country have been the front-line in the response throughout this pandemic, so I would urge the government to engage with us first before making any other decisions. Our local knowledge has proven invaluable throughout this challenging year and it is important that government acknowledges this local expertise.”