How and when can Lancashire leave Tier 3?
As Lancashire absorbs the news that every corner of the county will enter the toughest Tier 3 Covid restrictions when the national lockdown ends next week, attention amongst local leaders has already turned to how their areas might escape from rules which they feel they should never have been subjected to in the first place.
The region's 12 district authorities, together with the county council and Blackpool Council, yesterday urged the government to adopt an approach that reflected the differing infection rates and linkages between different parts of Lancashire.
Lancashire County Council leader Geoff Driver described the move as “disappointing” and told the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) that he would be asking the government “what the measures will be for coming out of Tier 3”.
It is expected that the regulations will be reviewed on a fortnightly basis.
However, the LDRS understands that on a call between government officials and Lancashire council leaders earlier this afternoon, there was no indication that ministers were willing to consider a borough-by-borough exit strategy either. That raises the prospect of the county remaining in Tier 3 until the worst-affected of the 14 council areas is deemed ready to emerge from the most severe category of restrictions.
The LDRS also understands that local authority leaders were told that they would be given details of the criteria for making today's decision, after it was pointed out that some Lancashire districts heading into Tier 3 currently have lower infection rates than places put into Tier 2 elsewhere in the country.
Lancashire County Council chief executive Angie Ridgwell said that the region was "incredibly disappointed" that the entirety of it had been placed under Tier 3 - and the former senior Whitehall official added that the move suggested the government "didn't understand our large and complex geography".
She added that the county would "continue to make representations in the best interest of Lancashire" and do everything it could to persuade the government to adopt a more localised approach.
Ms. Ridgwell also revealed that Lancashire leaders learned of their area's post-lockdown status when it was broadcast on TV, receiving no advance notice.