Leader of Lincolnshire County Council Martin Hill discusses new tier system
In his latest column, Martin Hill, leader of Lincolnshire County Council, discusses the new tier system:
Although many of us were disappointed after Lincolnshire was placed in Tier 3 at the start of December, at least we now have hope of an improvement by the middle of the month.
Learning that our local area was to be included among those areas with the highest level of restrictions was a huge blow to many people, especially those working within the hospitality sector.
The strength of feeling was such that I joined our local MPs Gareth Davies and Sir John Hayes in writing to the Prime Minister Boris Johnson to convey our disappointment.
We felt it was vital the government understand coronavirus rates in South Kesteven and South Holland have been significantly lower than other districts elsewhere in the county.
Lower, in fact, than scores of other areas in tier 2, including places that border them, we have serious concerns about the impact this will have on our residents' wellbeing and, in many cases, their livelihoods.
We have urged the government to reconsider the present arrangements, particularly as infection rates are falling.
Instead we are proposing that restrictions are based on either district (not county) boundaries, or boundaries that accurately reflect where people travel and socialise. Categorising the combined districts of South Holland and South Kesteven in the same tier as Peterborough, Norfolk and Rutland would be a more sensible and more targeted approach.
The Secretary of State, Matt Hancock, has given us some reassurance, that when the data is reviewed on December 16, each area will be assessed on its individual merits, including those within Lincolnshire.
This gives me some hope that our area may have restrictions loosened sooner rather than later. The government's plan to relax those measures for five days over the Christmas period, also gives us all some much-needed festive cheer.
I want to end on a positive note, because there is a lot to be positive about, especially as the first vaccines were due to be rolled out and administered to the most vulnerable people in England in the coming weeks.
I also want to re-affirm our commitment at the county council, to improving life for residents – something which the coronavirus pandemic has not quashed.
I'm proud of how our staff have adapted to new ways of working and kept council services going, especially for the most vulnerable in our communities.
We have managed to continue with our key big investment projects this year, including the Grantham southern relief road. The government is clearly aware of the economic impacts of the continuing pandemic, with announcements of billions of pounds of funding to help businesses- directly and indirectly, and we will ensure Lincolnshire gets its share.
Ultimately, with the right national support, in Lincolnshire we are ready to help our industries come out fighting from an incredibly difficult year. I wish you all a merry Christmas, and I hope we can stay positive about the many reasons we have to be hopeful about the future.