“We haven’t been spoken to” – Confusion as local leaders not informed by Government about new Covid-19 advice

As reported earlier, it emerged overnight that new Government advice for the eight areas most affected by the Indian variant of Covid-19 , including Kirklees, was published on Friday unannounced.

The new advice for people living in affected areas is not to travel into and out of the area unless essential and people should ‘avoid meeting indoors’.

Kirklees Council leader Shabir Pandor and newly-elected Mayor of West Yorkshire Tracy Brabin held a press conference outside Dewsbury Town Hall at 12:30pm today (Tuesday) to discuss the announcement. During the conference, both parties explained that they were not informed about the issuing of new advice for our area.

In a statement, Tracy Brabin said “I hope the Government has learned lessons from this pandemic and they need to work in partnership with local areas to give communities clarity on what we’re being asked to do, why they’re being asked to do it and how they will be supported.”

“Updated guidance slipped out on a Friday tea-time on a Cabinet office website is frankly not good enough. I’m grateful for our colleague Jonathan Ashworth for raising a UQ (Urgent Question) in the House of Commons. It shouldn’t have to come to this to drag Government Ministers to the house to explain their actions. because we need to remember this is people’s lives and their livelihoods. These areas have been under restrictions for over a year. Testing, isolation and vaccination [is] the way to effectively tackle local outbreaks – not punishing communities with creating confusion, anxiety and concern”.

Tracy Brabin also spoke about an earlier interview on LBC featuring Work and Pensions secretary Therese Coffey. Tracy said “When Therese Coffey, the Secretary state of Work and Pensions was asked a question on LBC this afternoon about what went wrong, she double downed saying that we’d been spoken to – we haven’t been spoken to”.

Kirklees Council leader Shabir Pandor also spoke about the latest changes. During his statement he said ‘…we weren’t told’ about the new guidance. He expressed frustration with the lack of notification about the change in guidance, and explained that he wants ‘clarity’ moving forward.

According to the BBC, a Downing Street source denied it was a local lockdown by stealth. The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said the government wanted to encourage the public “to exercise their good judgement”, rather than issuing “top-down edicts”.

Earlier this morning, Therese Coffey MP added to the confusion and frustration when she also appeared on ITV’s Good Morning Britain. During an interview, she was asked by hosts Susanna Reid and Bill Turnbull why residents in affected areas weren’t told about the change in guidance. She explained that the adding of the new guidance for the eight affected areas to the Government website was a ‘formality’. She explained that she thought it was ‘clear to the local communities’ with the extra testing and extra efforts to encourage people to take up the vaccines – and added that the Government had to ‘set out aspects of formal guidance’.

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