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Preston risked becoming an ‘island’ in tier-three negotiations claims city leader

Posted on - 16th October, 2020 - 2:41pm | Author - | Posted in - Health, Politics, Preston News
The Sessions House in Preston city centre, part of the Town Hall complex Pic: Tony Worrall
The Sessions House in Preston city centre, part of the Town Hall complex Pic: Tony Worrall

As Lancashire’s move to tier-three was confirmed the gloves came off on the political infighting over the government’s handling of the negotiations.

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Preston City Council’s leader, councillor Matthew Brown, had already made vocal his feelings the deal wasn’t good enough.

It’s understood the Labour leader at the Town Hall didn’t attend the final meeting to sign-off on the deal – in an apparent boycott of the measures.

He has joined a number of Labour leaders across Lancashire in criticising the way the tier-three negotiations were done.

Councillor Matthew Brown
Councillor Brown has become increasingly out-spoke as the week’s negotiations have progressed

Cllr Brown appeared on Sky News to say: “The way they’ve treated us is pretty dreadful.

“We were put into a position where many of us were bullied and were told if we didn’t accept the restrictions.

“We would basically be an island and the rest of Lancashire would be given slightly better benefits, and we basically living in Preston wouldn’t be able to travel outside.

“The number of businesses which can remain open wouldn’t be able to remain open and we’d get less money. There’s been lots of pressure put on us and I’m pretty disgusted with the way they’ve treated us.”

You can watch Cllr Brown’s appearance here.

Read more: These are the tier-three restrictions for Preston and Lancashire

A lengthy statement from Cllr Brown and Mohammad Iqbal, the Pendle council leader, has further criticised the handling of Preston and Lancashire going into tier-three restrictions.

And South Ribble Borough Council’s Labour leader, councillor Paul Foster, has attacked the decision in a video statement.

Publishing the video update via the borough council’s social media channels he makes clear he did not support the tier-three measures or the terms of the deal.

Read more: Longridge micro pub decides to temporarily shut due to restrictions

Preston MP Mark Hendrick has also criticised the tier-three measured and backed Cllr Brown’s call, earlier this week on Blog Preston, for a national ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown.

Lancashire County Council’s leader county councillor Geoff Driver, a Conservative, has defended the tier-three deal, understood to be worth £42m to the county.

He said: “Across Lancashire, the coronavirus situation is serious and getting worse. Lancashire’s leaders all agree that, as we approach winter, urgent action has to be taken now to ensure the county is not overwhelmed by the virus.

“After major negotiations with government, we have agreed a bespoke deal for Lancashire that means our businesses and residents will receive extra support that will not be available elsewhere in the country.

“I want to thank all of the Lancashire leaders for the constructive and meaningful discussions we have had over the past week. The deal has presented real challenges for some and they have only been able to sign up with reluctance, but we have been willing to work across party lines so that we can hammer this out with government.

“These new restrictions will affect us all, but we know they will be particularly harsh on those who make their living in our hospitality sector. It is a vital and valued part of our economy and we are all committed to maximising the support we can give as a result of this deal.”

A spokesperson for the Prime Minister is ‘very grateful’ to council leaders in Lancashire, according to LancsLive.

See the latest coronavirus cases and info near you

Preston, and Lancashire, will enter tier-three restrictions from 00.01 on Saturday 17 October.

Read more: See the latest Preston news and headlines

What do you make of councillor Brown’s comments? Do you agree with tier-three restrictions? What do you make of Cllr Driver’s comments? Let us know your views in the comments below

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