Were city mayors right to move Merseyside to Tier 3?

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Mayor Joe Anderson stands by Tier 3 decision / Credit: @mayor_anderson

Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson and Metro Mayor Steve Rotherham have come under increasing scrutiny for allowing Merseyside to be placed into Tier 3 lockdown.

This means that pubs, bars, gyms, betting shops and casinos are now closed across Liverpool, Wirral, Knowsley, Sefton, St Helens and Halton for the foreseeable future.

With livelihoods at stake, many people have been left frustrated with how easily the Labour councillors complied with the Conservative government’s orders. Liverpool’s actions appear in contrast to Greater Manchester where Metro Mayor Andy Burnham has resisted going into Tier 3 lockdown, questioning the data that is informing central government’s decisions. Regardless, Greater Manchester will be forced into Tier 3 from this Friday (Oct 23).

Mayor Anderson has defended his decision to agree to Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s wishes, taking to twitter to say: “There is a reason our city is in Tier 3 for Covid 19. The level of infection is at very high levels and beginning to impact on our hospitals – both for the virus and other illnesses like cancer.”

The latest figures for Liverpool show more than 250 people in hospitals in the city with critical care and ICU at 80% capacity and anticipating being full by next week. While many university students have been forced to self-isolate since returning to the city last month, the region’s schools currently have 8,436 pupils self-isolating along with 527 teachers.

Mayor Anderson confirmed that his brother had passed away last week from coronavirus.

JMU Journalism has spoken with a Labour councillor, Liberal Democrat councillor and a business journalist for their reaction to Merseyside moving to Tier 3 and what this might mean for people living and working in the region.

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Clare McIntyre – Labour councillor/NHS worker:

Covid-19 realted hospital admissions are increasing / Credit: Chowells, Wikipedia (CC)

“I fully support Joe; he always has our best interests at heart. He takes advice from public health and speaks out, always for the people of Liverpool – we are always his priority.

I understand why we need this highest level of intervention. COVID 19 is spreading rapidly in all age groups in our community. This is placing significant pressure across Liverpool due to the rapid increase in the number of COVID related hospital admissions. The weekly rate of COVID 19 in Liverpool is 634.7 per 100,000. As we move into winter, we see the increase in demand for our services that we expect.

However, many of us feel for local businesses once again, forced to close without adequate financial support.

The scenes in Liverpool last week were upsetting. In my dual role as a front-line nurse and local councillor for Wavertree, means I see, every day, the impact and devastation COVID 19 has on people and those who love them.”

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Tony McDonough – Business journalist:  

“I think the stick is probably unfair as the Government holds all the cards. I think both Joe and Steve have the best interests of the city region at heart and are trying to make progress in very difficult circumstances.

Seems to me there are two separate issues. There are the control measures for COVID-19. There are obviously arguments over the individual measures, such as gyms, but I think there is a broad consensus that Liverpool’s infection level and hospitalisation and ICU admissions are too high and need to be brought under control.

Joe has obviously been touched by this personally with the sad death of his brother. So he will obviously be determined that we do the right thing to protect both the public and the NHS Iocally.

The second issue is the level of financial support for affected businesses. On this, the Government is falling way short. They have the capacity to offer more support but are now on a ‘we must balance the books’ drive. And that’s politics. Both Joe and Steve are correctly focusing on this.

Andy Burnham is getting a lot of plaudits, which is fine, but he’s playing a high stakes game with the government. I think it’s unfair to compare what he is doing with what Steve and Joe are doing.”

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Richard Kemp CBE – Leader of Liberal Democrat opposition:

Image – Joe Anderson (left) and Richard Kemp (right) / Credit: JMU Journalism

“The two Liverpool Mayors have failed to negotiate a decent settlement for our locked down businesses. Lib Dems support the Tier 3 although it will not itself stop the problems. But hard working business people need real support which has not been negotiated.

“The headlines from last week regarding students gathering in concert square that is not representative of the young people of our City, most of whom observe the constraints of Covid-19 at a time which should be one of freedom, joy and the making of new friends.

“By the way the story was told by some was that this was typical of the behaviour of our local young people and I can tell you from my own observations that it isn’t.

“There are approximately 90,000 people in the City aged between 18 and 25. It is of course a high proportion because that includes up to 60,000 students most of whom come from outside the City. Around 200 caused trouble 89,800 didn’t. The facts speak for themselves!”

 

About Liam Kennedy, JMU Journalism