Labour leaders' £8.2m plan to protect Lancashire from coronavirus threat

Lynn Williams and Matthew BrownLynn Williams and Matthew Brown
Lynn Williams and Matthew Brown
Labour party leaders across the county say they have lost confidence in the Government over new lockdown rules in Lancashire - and have proposed their own plans to fight the spread of Covid-19.

Preston City Council leader Matthew Brown and Blackpool Council leader Lynn Williams added their names to a long list of Labour leaders in denouncing the Tories' lack of support for the North West following a meeting about the coronavirus pandemic this week.

They have written to the Conservatives telling them they 'do not accept that proposed restrictions on bars and public houses will make a material difference to infection rates'.

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Instead, they proposed their own plans for protecting people from the virus, including an improved test and trace system, protection packages for the most vulnerable to reduce the strain on the NHS, increased funding for schools, full economic support, and more flexible enforcement powers enabling local authorities and police to close mass gatherings that could increase the risk of infection.

They estimated that the cost of effectively protecting the vulnerable and the education sector would be £5.2m per month. A communications campaign would cost £1m and enforcement would cost £2m.

The Labour leaders also said that the Government must clearly set out the criteria, restrictions and support for its proposed three-tier system, which would see tougher measured imposed on a local or national level depending on the infection rate.

Coun Brown said: “Lancashire leaders are agreed that the government needs to put in place properly funded infrastructure to fight the virus which must include a 'fit for purpose' test and trace system rather than the current Government shambles which is letting Lancashire residents down. Council leaders want to tackle pandemic but must be given the evidence on the places of greatest transmission with the resources required to tackle the spread of the virus.”

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Mohammed Iqbal MBE, leader of Pendle Council said: “The Government's approach to Covid-19 isn’t clear and isn’t working. Council leaders have been kept in the dark and haven’t been given the evidential basis for decisions. Our responsibility is to the people of Lancashire and the letter to Sir Ed Lister is clear, our confidence in the Government's approach has collapsed.”