In advance of the Prime Ministers statement, in which he is set to announce a new tiered public health system across the country, Leader of City of York Council Cllr Keith Aspden has joined Northern leaders across the region in calling for greater cooperation, clarity and financial support from the Government to support local authorities, as cases of Coronavirus rise across the country.
Cllr Keith Aspden, Liberal Democrat Leader of the City of York Council, commented:
“After months of confusing messaging, a series of information leaks and top-down centralised decision making, the Prime Minister must now begin living up to his Government’s promises of levelling up the North. The Government must engage with Northern leaders to create a more effective response, which would safeguard our communities and protect our local economies.
“Throughout the pandemic leaders across the region have campaigned for the Government to ensure that the decision-making process involves and is shaped by people who understand the needs of their communities. As we head into what will be a challenging winter, government must now engage with the North to create a more effective response. This must be a dialogue, not a top-down centralised system, which sees local Public Health teams learn of vital information in a leaked social media post.
“What we have witnessed over the last few months is not good enough. It is has been deeply frustrating that the excellent work being done locally by our Public Health teams is being hampered by the Government. A robust test, trace and isolate system remains essential to keep people safe and as we look forward, the current system continues to fall short of expectations. Additional testing capacity and more timely reporting of results as well as additional resources to analyse data and support localised Track and Trace are urgently needed if we are to stop the spread of the virus.
“This is a moment of fragility for our local economies. The partial recovery we saw in the summer, which was welcome in York, is already at risk of evaporating, as we could face further restrictions and the end of the furlough scheme. If we are to see further lockdown restrictions introduced, this must go hand in hand with comprehensive support for our economy, to protect jobs, businesses and self-employed workers.
“The Government is at risk of leaving the North behind, as it has done for decades. Like in York, we must work in partnership to avert the worst effects of this pandemic, but in order to kick-start this the Government must provide the promised financial support for local authorities, who, despite facing a major financial challenge, continue to provide vital services and support local communities and businesses, By living up to its promises, they can ensure the North is in the strongest possible position to lead a sustainable recovery over the coming months which would enable us to build back better.”