Council leader issues forthright message over Tier 3 restrictions

By Tom Wilkinson and Amy Murphy, PA
·5 min read

A council leader has rejected talk of his town being placed in Tier 3 of the coronavirus restrictions, saying anyone suggesting it will be told to “sod off”.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said on Monday that talks were continuing with leaders in Manchester about increasing restrictions in and around the city.

He added that talks were planned this week with South Yorkshire, West Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire, the North East and Teesside.

Hartlepool Borough Council leader Shane Moore said no talks had happened since Friday, when the Tees Valley and the North East were given a reprieve from the toughest measures.

He tweeted on Monday evening: “Apparently it was announced in the House of Commons earlier that there were talks happening in relation to #Hartlepool & wider #TeesValley going into Tier 3. This is untrue.

“No talks with us since update on Friday & if anyone suggests it to me this week they’ll be told to sod off.”

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Asked if Hartlepool will be placed in Tier 3 next week, Mr Moore replied on Twitter: “Not unless I am presented with clear evidence that the current restrictions are not working and that serious hospital admissions are causing strain on local health services.”

Ben Houchen, the Tory elected mayor for Tees Valley, said he had received a reassurance there were no plans to put them in Tier 3.

He tweeted: “After today’s statement, I spoke to Matt Hancock’s team and I was pleased that they confirmed what local leaders were told on Friday – that there are NO imminent plans to move our area to tier 3. “

Gateshead Council leader Martin Gannon said the Government should listen to local politicians more about Tier 3 restrictions.

He said even taking into account the large number of students who have tested positive for coronavirus, “the underlying numbers are coming under control in the North East”.

He told the PA news agency: “Matt Hancock and his colleagues need to stop dictating to us and start listening to our strategy and to concede that they need to work with us not against us.”

Mr Gannon did not know when the next round of talks was planned, and said previous meetings had been cancelled at short notice.

The North of Tyne elected mayor said coronavirus cases had plateaued or were falling since leaders successfully argued for the North East to have a reprieve from Tier 3 restrictions.

Jamie Driscoll said: “We are expecting to meet with Government ministers and officials later this week, but nothing is in the diary and we have had no contact since Friday.

“Last week we talked through their data, and our data, epidemiology, NHS capacity, and public health interventions.

“They accepted there was no case for moving into Tier 3.

“The latest evidence is that across our region, case rates have plateaued or are falling.

“I want to say a thank you to the public for following the law and the guidelines and staying safe.”

On Tuesday evening, West Yorkshire council leaders said the area would maintain its Tier 2 status after local and national health experts agreed there was no case to impose increased restrictions this week.

In South Yorkshire, talks about the coronavirus alert level were continuing.

A spokesman for the Sheffield City Region said: “Mayor Dan Jarvis, the leaders of South Yorkshire’s local authorities and the Government have been in extensive and constructive talks over the coronavirus alert level for the region.

“These talks continue as all sides seek to agree a plan which will protect lives, jobs and our NHS.”

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Mr Jarvis tweeted on Monday night that he was ready to work with the Government but it had not yet offered enough support.

Earlier, Ros Jones, mayor of Doncaster, tweeted: “Meeting with Gov today and this week, I’ve been fighting off Doncaster going into Tier 3, but it may only be a matter of time.

“If we go into Tier 3, then our residents and businesses will need urgent support. I will continue to push for Doncaster to be treated separate from other areas.”

Speaking in a YouTube video on Monday, Greg Fell, director of public health at Sheffield City Council, said: “It’s likely that there will be more restrictions put on South Yorkshire at some point in the future. It’s difficult to call when that might be.

“We’re currently in the high risk category, we may move to the very high risk category.”