From Paul Maynard MP <[email protected]>
Subject My letter to the Prime Minister
Date November 27, 2020 12:43 PM
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Read my letter to the Prime Minister concerning Tier 3

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Dear Resident,

Please see below the letter I have written to the Prime Minister concerning our area being placed in Tier 3.

"Dear Prime Minister

I am writing to express my disappointment at the decision to place my constituency of Blackpool North and Cleveleys in the highest tier of the new COVID restrictions. I am aware of the difficult choices the Government has had to make in controlling the spread of the virus, and no one wishes to see either infection rates or hospital occupancy increase unnecessarily. Equally I recognise the significant impact measures are having on communities and the need to ensure the response is evidence-based, proportionate and only in place for as long as is absolutely necessary.

As you are, I’m sure, aware, tier three restrictions have been put in place across the county of Lancashire. These new restrictions cover a significant geographical area, made up of diverse and very different communities. While infection rates remain high in the east of the Lancashire, in my own constituency, which includes the unitary authority of Blackpool and the lower tier district of Wyre, figures fallen significantly in recent weeks. The Government’s own data shows an infection rate of 210.1 per 100,000 for Blackpool and 145.4 cases per 100,000 in Wyre. The latter is significantly below the national average.

I would be most grateful if you could explain how the Government reaches its decision that Lancashire-wide restrictions were appropriate when key indicators across the county vary so significantly. I would also ask that consideration be given to a more localised approach, reflecting local levels of risk, rather than those in towns some significant distance away. I very much support the view of Blackpool’s director of public health, the man best placed to assess COVID locally, that the borough should be subject to tier two, not tier three restrictions.
He made the following key points:
* latest infection rates per 100,000 population now stand at 210, a consistent and sustained decline over recent weeks and below the national average, that
* Percentage of positive tests has fallen to 8.2%
* Infection rates in the over-60s have also fallen to 230 per 100,000 population

Dr Rajpura said that a return to Tier 3 status on December 2 would be “wholly inappropriate” given the scale of the improvements that had been made and the need to protect the local economy from irreparable damage.
He said that Blackpool had achieved that improvement through a number of measures including:
* Increased testing and the provision of testing sites to the north and south of the resort
* Extensive engagement with the local community and strong communication with residents and visitors to bring down infection rates
* Ongoing support for local businesses, particularly in the tourism sector, to ensure they were COVID-safe and complying with all regulations
* The early adoption of an army of COVID marshals to provide on-the-ground support to businesses and help manage social distancing and queuing arrangements

The impact of the COVID restrictions on holiday resort towns such as Blackpool has been significant. The local economy is significantly skewed towards the tourism and hospitality sector. For many hotels, guest houses, pubs and entertainment venues the ongoing enforced closure is an existential threat. In many cases, I am aware that grant funding does not cover even the most basic of bills, and businesses have been asked to sustain significant losses over an extended period.

For many, large and small, there is a genuine possibility they will not be able to survive the winter and open for a new season in 2021. Having already lost trade over the lucrative autumn half term, which sustains many Blackpool businesses, I hope you will recognise the very challenging position hospitality businesses and those who supply and service them are in.

I would urge you, and the Chancellor, to make available to local authorities, particularly those placed under the most restrictive of conditions, further discretionary funding, to ensure businesses, viable and thriving up to March this year, have access to the support they need.

Given, in my view, the need to replace a pan-Lancashire approach with more localised tiers, I would ask not only that an urgent review be carried out of how restrictions have been applied in the region, but to bring forward such an exercise, to ensure it takes place as soon as possible, rather than waiting for the current December 16 date. For local businesses, their doors closed, every day matters.

I would very much appreciate your support and engagement with local authorities to resolve this matter. I look forward to your response."

Paul Maynard MP
Conservative - Blackpool North & Cleveleys
01253 473701

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