Political leaders across the West Midlands have spoken out against Tier 3 local restrictions being imposed on Coventry.
The new restrictions, due to be imposed from 2 December, mean Coventry will face the most severe level of restrictions, with bars and restaurants remaining closed along with entertainment and tourism venues.
The news come despite Coventry having the lowest infection rates in the region – in some cases two and a half times lower than neighbouring areas.
Local councillors and the Metro Mayor
The Labour leader of Coventry City Council, Councillor George Duggins, has expressed his “frustration and bitter disappointment” at the news on Thursday afternoon.
Cllr Duggins said the city council had been lobbying for what it believes would have been a fairer placement in Tier 2, as “all the evidence points to Coventry being placed in a lower category.”
He explained, “from the very beginning, the majority of people and business in the city have followed Government and Public Health guidelines and we are now seeing the benefits through lower infection levels.
“However, we are not being rewarded for those efforts and the sacrifices people continue to make.”
The opposition Coventry Conservative Group have also voiced their concern that Tier 3 is “tough to justify”, adding that Coventry has been “lumped in with Birmingham needlessly.”
Leader of the group, Councillor Gary Ridley, express his disappointment saying: “The whole point of a ‘local’ lockdown is that it is just that. Coventry shouldn’t be treated like it’s part of some huge Greater Birmingham area anyway but especially as our figures don’t justify Tier 3 restrictions”.
Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, called the news “very disappointing” but “understandable”.
The Conservative Mayor highlighted that the Government’s commitment to a fortnightly review of local restrictions, with the first coming on December 16, and said that “given the trajectory our rate of infection is on, I am hopeful it won’t be long before we see a shift to Tier Two.”
Local Members of Parliament
Taiwo Owatemi, Labour MP for Coventry North West, expressed her frustration that Coventry has been “assigned to the same Tier as other local authorities in the West Midlands, some over an hour’s driver away, that have infection rates two and a half times higher than Coventry does.”
Owatemi compared Coventry’s situation to that of the capital, pointing out that “London has been downgraded to Tier 2 despite having similar, and in some boroughs higher, rates of infection” than Coventry.
The MP pointed to the need for a mass testing programme in Coventry using lateral flow devices – something which Coventry City Council have begun to pilot, but at small scale.
She went on to reaffirm her commitment to “keep fighting our corner in Parliament and standing up for the support we need to protect lives and livelihoods.”
At the same time, Zarah Sultana, the Labour MP for Coventry South, blamed the need for a tiered system of restrictions on “the £12 billion Serco Test and Trace system”, referring to private sector contracts, that the MP labelled as “a shambles.”
She urged the Government to “make it clear what it will take to leave Tier 3 restrictions” and asked for further financial support for the city.
In neighbouring Solihull, which also faces Tier 3, Conservative MP Julian Knight spoke out fiercely against the new restrictions.
He insisted that he will not be voting in favour of the new restrictions in Parliament “unless the government assures me it’ll provide targeted help for our hospitality sector.”