Government meeting with West Yorkshire today in discussions over Tier 3 restrictions

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has confirmed talks are continuing with West Yorkshire leaders over the possibility of going under the highest level of coronavirus restrictions.

Thursday, 22nd October 2020, 3:21 pm
Updated Thursday, 22nd October 2020, 4:32 pm

Speaking in the Commons, Mr Hancock today announced some new measures for Stoke-on-Trent, Coventry and Slough, where he said there has been a rising rate of infections.

But he neglected to mention West Yorkshire, which had been considered as one of the places most likely going into Tier 3 restrictions to match those in place in South Yorkshire from Saturday.

Labour’s shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth asked if MPs in areas that might see tougher restrictions during the parliamentary recess will be kept informed by the Government.

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A woman wearing a face mask passes a coronavirus advice sign in Sheffield, as South Yorkshire is the latest region to be placed into Tier 3 coronavirus restrictions, which will come into effect on Saturday. Photo: PA

He added: “He didn’t mention anything about Nottinghamshire and West Yorkshire, and he will know that they are candidates that are widely speculated as the next to go into the Tier 3 lockdown restrictions. I just wonder, given the localised infection rates… he must be considering the future of West Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire?”

Mr Hancock replied: “As previously announced, discussions are under way, we want to proceed in consultation and working with the local areas and of course with parliamentary recess next week, we will find a way to ensure that colleagues are appraised of the situation, preferably in advance of any announcement.”

Earlier, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “There are talks taking place with West Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire today.

“Those talks have been ongoing for a little while.”

South & West Yorkshire weekly rate of Covid-19 cases. Photo: PA

Leeds City Council chief executive Tom Riordan yesterday said West Yorkshire would remain in the government’s Tier 2 regulations for the time being.

While council leader Judith Blake said that as of yesterday, talks had not taken place, however that appears to have changed today.

She said: “I want to stress we haven’t had conversations with ministers, despite the suggestion with national politicians that we have.

“We had a meeting that was chaired by Luke Hall last Friday, who has taken over from Simon Clarke as the regions minister. We were exchanging discussions about public health statistics.

“There was a suggestion that we might have had a meeting with the (secretary of state for local government) yesterday [Tuesday], but that didn’t take place.

“There was a discussion with chief executives and officials. The outcome of those discussions is that West Yorkshire authorities remain in Tier 2.”

Deputy leader of the council’s Conservative group Alan Lamb suggested that the council had, in fact, been in contact with the Government, and that Ms Blake “personally had one-to-one meetings” with health secretary Matt Hancock.

Ms Blake responded: “The point is about meetings with the leaders of the councils – from my point of view, the decision-makers are the leaders of the councils reflecting the councils themselves.

“There is a big difference between that and officials talking to officials.

“I had two telephone conversations with Matt Hancock – is that what you are classing as a meeting?”

Today (Thursday), a spokesperson for Leeds City Council said:

“We are awaiting further talks with government regarding restrictions that are in place to tackle coronavirus in Leeds. At this current time we are not expecting tier status to change in Leeds this week.”