Tuesday, 24 November 2020 04:01

Wiltshire Council leader responds to opposition letter Featured

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Wiltshire will go into the right tier based on evidence, says council boss.

Yesterday Wiltshire Council opposition leader Ian Thorn called for Wiltshire to be placed in the lowest Covid tier post-lockdown.

In his letter, Cllr Thorn said that the Christmas period would be ‘make or break’ for local businesses adding that those in hospitality, tourism and retail had taken a big hit from the second lockdown.

In response, leader of the council, Philip Whitehead said he is not prepared to risk public health if Wiltshire were to enter a tier with tighter measures.

He Whitehead said: “It is essential that at the ending of lockdown we go into the tier that we should go into given the evidence base at the time.

“To wish to be in tier one would not be sensible if it were not the correct tier for our infection rate.

“To ignore the data at the time would be to put the health of the residents of Wiltshire at risk and although you seem to be suggesting this, I am not prepared to do it.”

Writing on the impact to businesses, Cllr Whitehead said he was ‘very aware’ of the financial impact of this month’s measures.

“This would have been significantly worse had the Conservative Government not put together the most generous and creative support package to help businesses to work their way through those difficulties,” he said.

“In Wiltshire, we paid out more than £96m to more than 8,000 businesses for the first lockdown and have already paid out more than £590k to businesses this time.”

Cllr Whitehead agreed with Cllr Thorn that Wiltshire’s low rates of infection were down to the efforts made by its residents.

“Wiltshire Council will continue to make all efforts to support Wiltshire residents in minimising the rate of infection across Wiltshire and we expect to follow government guidance to enter the correct tier based entirely on the evidence base for Wiltshire,” Cllr Whitehead said.

“The infection rate in recent weeks has been significantly higher than we would have liked, albeit from a low base.

“We have stated publicly that we have continued to be concerned about this and that our expectation would have been to be in a higher tier by now had we not gone into a second lockdown.”

Read this article on the Gazette and Herald here...

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