Mayor of Manchester calls out lack of government communication in lockdown ease

17 May 2020, 12:18

Mayor of Greater Manchester on coronavirus support for the north

By Seán Hickey

The Mayor of Greater Manchester attacked the government's method of easing lockdown and demanded more support for the north.

Andy Burnham spoke to Andrew Castle about how Manchester has been coping with new lockdown rules, where the Mayor claimed he was taken by surprise by the Prime Minister's announcement last week.

The Mayor of Manchester told Andrew that "we need to preserve national unity in this national crisis" but added that the PM is making it difficult through his lack of communication for local governments to side with him.

"I learned about the change in lockdown like everyone else, the problem is I'm running the trams" Mr Burnham said. He insisted that he "needed an advanced notice" on the new government measures so cities and towns can plan for when people return to work.

Mr Burnham told Andrew that "council leaders and mayors need to be taken through measures at least a week in advance" but instead "it was sprung on us without any explanation."

The Mayor of Manchester pointed out that "the lack of information makes people nervous" and if the local councils of the north don't have any more information than the public then there are major issues with how central government shares information.

The Mayor of Manchester said the government's lack of communication to local authorities has led to a disconnect
The Mayor of Manchester said the government's lack of communication to local authorities has led to a disconnect. Picture: PA

Mr Burnham went on to tackle the disparity in funding between the northern and southern councils. "We obviously have to put extra services to get people safely to work, but apparently we don't get taken into consideration" when it comes to funding, the Mayor of Greater Manchester said.

He told Andrew that the government has only given his office 25% of what the Mayor of London has been given to cope with the easing of lockdown. Andrew prodded Mr Burnham and wanted to know how much he thinks he should be given to increase transport, to which he replied with the figure of £100 million.

Andrew saw it unlikely for such a sum to be given and suggested that "you could start going your own way" and wanted to know if the Mayor has considered this already.

Mr Burnham told Andrew that he wouldn't consider making this decision initially, but at this stage "It's hit a point this week where you can't roll with the decisions anymore". He pressed the issue of "those decisions are not justifiable in my view."

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