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Stratford and Warwick council leaders push for rapid rethink on Tier 3 rating

Stratford District Council leader Cllr Tony Jefferson. Photo submitted
Stratford District Council leader Cllr Tony Jefferson. Photo submitted

A JOINT letter from the leaders of Stratford and Warwick district councils has been sent to the government setting out the frustrations across South Warwickshire that both areas have been put in Tier 3 – and urging a rapid rethink.

The letter was written on Thursday and was addressed to Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government Robert Jenrick and copied to Health Secretary Matt Hancock, the three MPS from the area – Nadhim Zahawi, Jeremy Wright and Matt Western – plus county council leader Izzi Seccombe.

It uses statistics and graphics to help make the case that the decision is wrong and that a change should be made before the national review date of 16th December.

The two leaders start by expressing their collective dismay at the decision and urges Mr Jenrick, " …to reverse this perverse decision so as to save some of our local economy and the credibility of your government and the measures needed to combat Covid-19."

The credibility of the overall policy is something the joint letter returns to in its concluding paragraphs where it highlights the strength of feeling from businesses and residents.

Leader of Warwick District Council Cllr Andrew Day. Photo submitted
Leader of Warwick District Council Cllr Andrew Day. Photo submitted

It says: "Comments we have had from local residents and businessmen today have been scathing. Residents know the numbers, they know where we stand in terms of key data. Tier 3 has no credibility, and we cannot stress that enough. There is a real danger that people will simply not comply.

"Placing us in Tier 3 has we fear undermined the whole approach to tackling Covid-19 with our residents.

"A far more nuanced approach is required, and indeed you alluded to the fact that you would be open to considering revised boundaries during our briefing earlier today.

"Our communities have been heroic in driving down infection rates locally and this needs to be rewarded. They do not understand or accept how after all of this effort and with low rates locally why we have been placed under the most severe restrictions.

"The lack of acceptance is the critical dimension.

"We strongly share this view and so as to save any credibility that the government and the Covid-19 strategy has left locally. We therefore request that a review cannot wait two weeks and that immediate consideration is given to reclassifying Stratford-on-Avon District Council and Warwick District Council to Tier 2 to protect local businesses, properly reflect the local risk and maintain a common sense approach which will preserve the goodwill of our residents."

In terms of statistics the leaders highlight falling rates in both districts and note that the combined rate of 127 for South Warwickshire at the time of writing was well below that of Tier 2 areas, including Worcestershire which was at 153.

In terms of how well hospitals are coping, they add: "Stratford and Warwick Districts have our own general hospital serving the area and with very strong travel to work links could easily be considered a geographically contained area.

"Assurances have been received from both the South Warwickshire Foundation Trust and the University Hospital Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust, that there is more than sufficient capacity in their hospitals."

They also highlight the importance of hospitality and tourism to the local economies and the threat to them represented by a Tier 3 rating.

They issue a stark warning that many businesses will struggle to survive if they cannot trade and also highlight the wider economic impact: "South Warwickshire is internationally significant in relation to tourism and has made significant contributions to the GDP both regionally and nationally, through assets including the Royal Shakespeare Company, Shakespeare’s Birthplace Trust and Warwick Castle.

"Stratford alone attracted in excess of six million visitors a year. It seems that the government is willing to sacrifice all of this due to the current infection rates for communities with no link to our locality."

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