Local lockdowns should not be 'imposed' by Government, says Andy Burnham

29 August 2020, 12:42

Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham has called for local authorities to have a greater say in lockdown restrictions
Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham has called for local authorities to have a greater say in lockdown restrictions. Picture: PA Images
Ewan Quayle

By Ewan Quayle

Decisions on easing or tightening local coronavirus lockdown restrictions should not be "imposed" by the Government, Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham has said.

He called for more negotiation and agreement between Westminster and local authorities amid controversy over the selection of areas for increased restrictions.

His comments follow the Government announcement that lockdown measures in some parts of the North will be eased from next week as the hotspot areas become more localised.

Read more: Coronavirus: Nationwide restrictions 'cannot be ruled out' to avoid second wave

Mr Burnham told reporters: "I think we will better negotiate what lies ahead of us in the autumn and winter if Government listens to local leaders - they know their communities.

"It wasn't just in Greater Manchester where they overruled us. In Bradford, basically communities were split there - some are still under restrictions, some not.

"You then have the situation where some people on one half of the street are under restrictions and others not.

"My main message to the Government is you must not impose these things from London when you are going to affect communities in this way, it must be by negotiation and agreement.

"And that needs to be a core principle that we agree on before we go any further into the rest of what will be a very difficult year."

Mr Burnham said communities should be "worried" about the way decisions were being taken.

"Imposition of decisions like this without agreement or negotiation is absolutely the wrong way to go.

Warning signs have been rolled out across areas with local lockdown restrictions
Warning signs have been rolled out across areas with local lockdown restrictions. Picture: PA Images

"With the Health Secretary warning today of extensive lockdowns throughout the rest of this year, I think communities everywhere should be worried.

"This has to be partnership between national and local government."

Read more: Teaching unions criticise Government for last-minute school guidance

The Greater Manchester mayor said: "We need a much better process for agreeing these things.

"The Government have given a role to members of Parliament, who in my view are bringing political considerations to this.

"These decisions should be driven by public health alone, not politics."

It follows a sharp rise in the number of Covid-19 cases in parts of the North of England - particularly Greater Manchester and Lancashire - with the North West seeing 286 new infections yesterday.

Restrictions on two households mixing introduced last month will be lifted in Bolton, Stockport, Trafford, Burnley and Hyndburn, said the Department of Health and Social Care.

Parts of Bradford, Calderdale and Kirklees will also fall into line with the rest of England on Wednesday September 2.

Elsewhere in Lancashire, residents in Preston and parts of Pendle will still be banned from visiting others in their homes or gardens.

Meanwhile, the Government is urging workers to return to their offices as the high street - particularly shops reliant on nearby workers - continues to be damaged due to a lack of customers in town centres.

Health secretary Matt Hancock has warned, however, that nationwide restrictions may be imposed in the coming months to avoid a second wave during winter.