ANGRY district leaders are demanding the government to review the ‘perverse’ decision to place Warwickshire in Tier 3.
Warwickshire was left reeling last week after it was announced the county is set to be plunged into the most restricted tier on Wednesday when the second national lockdown ends.
The highest restriction level means all hospitality venues, including accommodation and pubs, except for takeaways, will be closed alongside entertainment and tourist attractions.
And council leaders Andrew Day, for Warwick district, and Tony Jefferson for Stratford, are urging the government to review the decision, they say has undermined efforts to control the virus, immediately.
In a letter to the government’s communities secretary Robert Jenrick – who has hinted at a possible tier adjustments on December 16 – the leaders cite statistics around covid cases across the districts including those among over 60s reducing, with the total number of cases for Warwick having gone down by over a quarter in the last week. The positivity level, as of Friday, fell at five per cent in Stratford and 7.3 per cent in Warwick. All other local authority areas which had a positivity level of lower than 7.5 per cent, they noted, were placed in Tier 2. This includes neighbouring county Worcestershire whose rate fell at 153 compared to South Warwickshire combined at 127.
The leaders wrote: “The purpose of this letter is to express our collective dismay with the decision that the communities of South Warwickshire should be placed under Tier 3 from December 2, and to implore you to reverse this perverse decision so as to save some of our local economy and the credibility of your government and the measures needed to combat covid-19.”
They went on to describe the impact Tier 3 will continue to have on the tourism and hospitality industry particularly in South Warwickshire – home to Royal Shakespeare Company, Shakespeare’s Birthplace Trust and Warwick Castle.
They added: “The Christmas period would have been the last chance for many of our beleaguered hotel, restaurants and public houses to have generated much needed revenue so as to survive the winter period, to deny them this opportunity because of rates in the north of our county belies any logic. We can assure you that without the benefit of this crucial trading period they will be forced to permanently close.
“South Warwickshire is internationally significant in relation to tourism and has made significant contributions to the GDP both regionally and nationally. Stratford alone attracted in excess of six million visitors a year. It seems that the government is willing to sacrifice all of this due to the current infection rates for communities with no link to our locality.
“Comments we have had from local residents and businessmen today have been scathing. Residents know the numbers, they know where we stand in terms of key data. Tier 3 has no credibility, and we cannot stress that enough. There is a real danger that people will simply not comply. Placing us in Tier 3 has we fear undermined the whole approach to tackling covid-19 with our residents.
“A far more nuanced approach is required, and indeed you alluded to the fact that you would be open to considering revised boundaries during our briefing earlier today. Our communities have been heroic in driving down infection rates locally and this needs to be rewarded. They do not understand or accept how after all of this effort and with low rates locally why we have been placed under the most severe restrictions. The lack of acceptance is the critical dimension. We strongly share this view and so as to save any credibility that the government and the covid-19 strategy has left locally. We therefore request that a review cannot wait two weeks and that immediate consideration is given to reclassifying Stratford District Council and Warwick District Council to Tier 2 to protect local businesses, properly reflect the local risk and maintain a common sense approach which will preserve the goodwill of our residents.”