Council leaders urge the government to reverse its 'perverse decision' to put Leamington, Kenilworth and Warwick into the highest Covid tier
Cllr Andrew Day (leader of Warwick District Council) and Cllr Tony Jefferson (leader of Stratford District Council) have penned a joint letter to MP Robert Jenrick, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, asking for the 'perverse decision' to be reversed
Council leaders have expressed their 'collective dismay' after it was announced Warwickshire is to be put in the highest covid restrictions tier.
Yesterday (Thursday November 26) it was announced that all of the county will be placed in Tier 3 - the highest tier - for Coronavirus restrictions when the latest national lockdown ends next week.
Cllr Andrew Day (leader of Warwick District Council) and Cllr Tony Jefferson (leader of Stratford District Council) have penned a joint letter to MP Robert Jenrick, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, asking for the 'perverse decision' to be reversed.
They said: "The purpose of this letter is to express our collective dismay with the decision announced that the communities of South Warwickshire should be placed under Tier 3 from December 2, and to implore you to reverse this perverse decision so as to save some of our local economy and the credibility of your government and the measures needed to combat Covid-19.
"South Warwickshire has a recognised sense of place and we have a number of partnerships that recognise this close relationship in combating this pandemic, including:
• South Warwickshire Clinical Commission Group
• South Warwickshire Health and Wellbeing Partnership; and
• South Warwickshire COVID-19 Incident Management Team.
"Within the briefing that you provided you identified yourself that Stratford DC was the lowest area for infections across the West Midlands, however, you have allocated both Stratford and Warwick District Council in Tier 3.
"Stratford and Warwick have both seen the number of cases in the over 60s reducing, and the total number of cases for Warwick have gone down by over 25 per cent in the last seven days.
"Other than Stratford and Warwick, all other local authority areas which have a positivity level of lower than 7.5 per cent have been placed in Tier 2.
"It should be noted that the combined rate of 127 for South Warwickshire is well below that of Tier 2 areas including Worcestershire who are now at 153."
In the letter the leaders also pointed out that both the South Warwickshire Foundation Trust and the University Hospital Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust, have assured them that there is 'more than sufficient capacity in their hospitals'.
Both councillors also said that this tier classification would also impact the tourism and hospitality sectors in the area - at what they say is a 'crucial trading period'.
They said: "As you will be aware the tourism and hospitality industry is particularly impacted by the further restrictions in Tier 3, and you will be equally aware of the massive contribution that these sectors play in the local economy across South Warwickshire.
"The Christmas period would have been the last chance for many of our beleaguered hotel, restaurant’s and public houses to have generated much needed revenue so as to survive the winter period, to deny them this opportunity because of rates in the north of our county belies any logic.
"We can assure you that without the benefit of this crucial trading period they will be forced to permanently close.
"South Warwickshire is internationally significant in relation to tourism and has made significant contributions to the GDP both regionally and nationally, through assets including the Royal Shakespeare Company, Shakespeare’s Birthplace Trust and Warwick Castle.
"Stratford alone attracted in excess of six million visitors a year.
"It seems that the government is willing to sacrifice all of this due to the current infection rates for communities with no link to our locality."
As well as the impact on tourism, Cllr Day and Cllr Jefferson say that there is a 'lack of acceptance' of the tier grading and that the areas should be reclassified.
They said:"Comments we have had from local residents and businessmen have been scathing.
"Residents know the numbers, they know where we stand in terms of key data.
"Tier 3 has no credibility, and we cannot stress that enough. There is a real danger that people will simply not comply.
"Placing us in Tier 3 has we fear undermined the whole approach to tackling Covid-19 with our residents.
"Our communities have been heroic in driving down infection rates locally and this needs to be rewarded.
"They do not understand or accept how after all of this effort and with low rates locally why we have been placed under the most severe restrictions.
"The lack of acceptance is the critical dimension.
"We strongly share this view and so as to save any credibility that the government and the Covid-19 strategy has left locally.
"We therefore request that a review cannot wait two weeks and that immediate consideration is given to reclassifying Stratford District Council and Warwick District Council to Tier 2 to protect local businesses, properly reflect the local risk and maintain a common sense approach which will preserve the goodwill of our residents."