Cllr Chris Read – Labour Leader of Rotherham Council – has responded to today’s news that South Yorkshire will be placed under the Government’s Tier 3 Very High Covid Alert.

“Over the last few weeks, we have seen alarming increases in the rates of coronavirus infections in Rotherham, as in the rest of South Yorkshire. Our hospital has gone from only a handful of Covid patients to nearly 50 and it is clear that if that rate of increase continues we run the very real risk of seeing local health services overwhelmed.

“Our priority therefore must be the safety of the public of Rotherham. Whilst no one will welcome further restrictions, I believe these are proportionate to the risks that we face. I very much hope that with these rules in place, we can pull together and turn around the infection rates. If we can then we will be able to relax these new rules quickly. If we cannot, then further restrictions cannot be ruled out.

“However, there is nothing in the announcement today that the government could not have decided to introduce days ago. There have been no meaningful negotiations with local leaders. It has become clear over the last few days during our conversations with government that they already had a template of measures and funding in mind.

“We need and we welcome the support for businesses and employees who are affected – in so far as it goes. But whilst the government has talked localism in reality local councils have been used as political cover, either for restrictions deemed politically unpalatable to the Tory right, or for delaying life saving measures. People should be in no doubt that every day that has passed has made it more likely that more people will fall ill.

“A government in paralysis has used our conversations as displacement activity, throwing dozens of civil servants into meetings with our officials for no discernible reason other than to find ways to say “no” to reasonable requests. I have personally found the government’s approach to be tawdry.”

Cllr Chris Read
Labour Leader of Rotherham Council

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