County council slams MPs for lack of tier 2 support

Senior health officials at Essex County Council have attacked some of the county’s MPs for not backing its appeal for the county to be moved into tier two restrictions.

Cabinet member of social care John Spence has said it would be “just shockingly bad” that the request of ECC to the government “were to be derailed by fewer than 10 people.”

Essex public health director Mike Gogarty said that while ECC had received unanimous support from every Essex district “it is really sad that a bunch of MPs, whoever they are, are not able to do the same for the population.”

ECC says that within a maximum of two weeks the county will have reached the thresholds of tier two anyway, and that asking for it now will soften the curve and avoid deeper restrictions later on.

Tier two restrictions would bring Essex into line with places like Manchester, which has infection rates of about 450 per 100,000 – a rate that Dr Gogarty said will be reached in less than a month anyway.

But both Dr Gogarty and Cllr Spence have articulated their frustration with some Essex MPs whose support appears to have retreated.

Cllr Spence said that ECC had had the complicit support of at least 12 of the 15 MP’s in ECC’s area.

There was a further meeting at 8pm on Sunday night where there was still an overwhelming majority of support.

Cllr Spence added: “I don’t understand quite why close of play last night the support of several had eroded.

“The leader of Essex County Council has been trying to reach some MPs this morning.

“It would be just shockingly bad if having achieved the unanimous support of our councils and all parties within Essex this were not to be derailed by fewer than 10 people.

“It would be very sad.”

He added that he would expect every MP to fall behind ECC’s Covid plan if the Government accepts its request.

He added: “If it is the case that the Secretary of State agree to our request I shall be asking the leader with me to write to all the MPs recognising they all have a view but strengthening the importance of being publicly supported so this now has the best chance of working.

“They must not undermine it by being in open opposition.”

Dr Gogarty was also scathing on some Essex MPs’ lack of support.

He said: “As of 11am yesterday morning we had Essex County Council stepping up and really pushing this.

“The first two out of the blocks were Colchester and Basildon.

“They were the first two which we had the support of in this area. All the Colchester councillors of all colours and persuasions, all Essex councillors of all colours and persuasions stood together to do what is right for the people they serve.

“It is really sad that a bunch of MPs, whoever they are, are not able to do the same for the population.”

Vicky Ford MP

Vicky Ford, MP for Chelmsford has shown her support, writing on social media: “If we take action now to limit the amount of household to household transmission indoors then we stand a better chance of being able to keep more local businesses open, protect the NHS and save lives (both from covid and non covid illnesses) as well as jobs.

“I am writing this with a very heavy heart. I know how much we treasure seeing family and friends and that moving into this higher state of measures would also put huge strain on some businesses and thus jobs.

“However, by acting earlier we have the best chance of bringing the rate of transmission back down and thus bringing the virus back under control in Chelmsford sooner. Please folk, we need to all work together to stop this rapid spread of this hideous disease.”

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Piers Meyler

Local Democracy Reporter