Leeds council leader warns of ‘steep and serious’ Covid rise – as Calverley & Farsley Tory criticises 10pm curfew ‘U-turn’

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Leeds Civic Hall.
Leeds Civic Hall. Photo: John Baron/westleedsdispatch.com

Leeds City Council leader Judith Blake has warned that the city faces fresh Government restrictions next week following a ‘steep and serious’ rise in the number of Covid-19 cases.

judith blake
Council Leader Judith Blake

The latest figures for the seven-day infection rate is 367.6 per 100,000 and the positivity rate is 20.7%.

Cllr Blake said:

“This is another steep and serious rise that we continue to be very concerned about. Almost all wards in the city have rates of over 100 per 100,000, meaning that cases and transmission are city-wide.

“Our student areas have significantly higher rates. Hospital admissions are rising in Leeds, which has an impact on planned surgery if it continues. This reflects the national picture, with rates across most of the country rising, with really significant rises in northern university cities.

I am therefore asking everyone to do their keep playing their part to keep themselves and others safe, to minimise contact to stop the spread.”

Government guidelines advise:

  • Making space and stay 2m away from people you do not live with;
  • Washing your hands regularly and for 20 seconds;
  • Covering your face in enclosed spaces; and
  • Isolating when you need to/are advised to, and getting a test if you have symptoms.

To find out more about the current government restrictions for Leeds and any further questions, visit this website.

Top Tory hits out at 10pm curfew ‘U-turn’

A Calverley & Farsley councillor has accused the authority’s leader of “blaming the Government for anything that goes wrong” around Covid-19.

Andrew Carter Calverley and Farsley
Cllr Andrew Carter

The leader of the council’s opposition Conservatives group Coun Andrew Carter accused council leader Judith Blake of U-turning on her support for a government-imposed curfew, as well as accusing the authority of failing to use its powers to prevent the spread.

His comments come following a letter sent to the government earlier this week, signed by northern council leaders including Coun Blake, calling on the government to lift its 10pm ‘curfew’ restrictions on bars and restaurants in order to help local economies.

But Coun Carter said Coun Blake (Lab) was supportive of such a curfew in September.

Leeds City Council posted that the infection rate in the city had this week risen to 341.1 per 100,000.

Councillor Andrew Carter said:

“We are supposed to be trying to work together in a non-political way as the city battles with a soaring infection rate. Unfortunately the council leader has made it more and more difficult to do this, claiming credit for everything that goes right and blaming the government for anything that goes wrong.

“Her latest comments, wanting more localised controls, are another example of this. Perhaps she needs reminding that her own chief executive was seconded to draw up plans for how central government and local government should try to deal with the second wave. This is part of the reason why a regional approach, as opposed to a national approach, is being taken.

“I would remind everyone that it is only a matter of a few weeks ago that Coun Blake was bemoaning the fact that the government had not introduced a curfew sooner.”

A BBC article from September 18 claimed council leaders had asked ministers to implement a 10pm limit on venues, but the suggestion had been turned down.

The piece reported a council spokeswoman saying: “In our conversations we regularly discuss a range of potential options that could possibly be introduced to reduce Covid-19 rates in the city, and this has included a possible curfew for bars and restaurants.”

Coun Carter continued:

“I am not for one minute suggesting that the government has got everything right, because it hasn’t, but neither has the council. I can give examples of where the council has in my view failed to use powers it already has to enforce social distancing. What would the administration want to do now? Impose restrictions on a ward by ward or street by street basis? On the one hand they complain about confusion and on the other hand seem to want to add to it.

“This all smacks of the leadership in Leeds being panic stricken as Covid rates rise massively. up until recently the Council Leader was talking about her contacts with government ministers and the work our Chief Executive was doing in London advising the government, now she says she’s never consulted. I understand she had two conversations with the Secretary of State only yesterday.”

Coun Blake and her fellow northern leaders had written to health secretary Matt Hancock this week setting out an alternative plan for local measures, which they claim could be more effective in controlling infection rates.

Leeds, along with neighbouring authorities Bradford, Calderdale and Kirklees, is currently under local restrictions which forbid more than one household mixing in houses or gardens.

Current restrictions, including the 10pm curfew have also led to concerns over the impact the pandemic is having on the local hospitality sector.

According to the letter, the five-point plan would allow for greater local decision-making – giving councils the power to agree additional lockdowns before they happen, as well as a locally-controlled version of the “test and trace” system to help minimise the spread of the virus.

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