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Preston City Council leader says national lockdown ‘could have been avoided’

Posted on - 1st November, 2020 - 7:00am | Author - | Posted in - Health, Politics, Preston Council, Preston News
Preston's coronavirus test centre in Vernon Street close to the UCLan campus Pic: Tony Worrall
Preston’s coronavirus test centre in Vernon Street close to the UCLan campus Pic: Tony Worrall

Preston City Council’s leader Councillor Matthew Brown has called for the government to take steps to ensure the city is equipped to stop the spread of Covid-19.

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Councillor Brown spoke after the Prime Minister’s address to the nation on Saturday (31 October), when it was confirmed England will enter a full lockdown from Thursday 5 November.

The new restrictions will see pubs, bars and hospitality and leisure venues close, along with non-essential shops. Schools, colleges and universities are to remain open, as will supermarkets and takeaways.

The Prime Minister also announced that the furlough scheme has been extended until early December in line with the lockdown.

Read more: Preston City Council receives £366,000 grant to help those impacted by coronavirus

Councillor Brown said: “Whilst recognising the fact government has acted and low paid workers will receive more protection, this four-week lockdown could have been avoided if we had taken SAGE advice for a circuit breaker a number of weeks back with less pain and disruption to daily life.

“I hope the government takes the opportunity now to put the infrastructure in place during this new lockdown to enable us to effectively tackle the virus. This is something which has been sadly lacking since it began.”

Councillor Brown also took to Twitter to say he couldn’t understand “the hullabaloo” that his earlier calls for extending the furlough scheme had caused.

It’s not the first time Councillor Brown has spoken out against the government response to Covid-19.

In early October, he raised concerns about the closure of Preston’s two Covid-19 testing centres.

Councillor Matthew Brown
Councillor Matthew Brown is calling for infrastructure to be put in place

Later that month Councillor Brown joined calls for a national ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown, saying: “My personal view is the only way we can tackle Covid-19 now is a two to three week national lockdown, with proper protections for workers and local businesses with a properly resourced test and tracing, and accompanying infrastructure to bring the cases down.”

Then, during Tier 3 negotiations with the government, Councillor Brown boycotted the final meeting.

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

Speaking to Sky News about the government’s handling of the situation at the time, Councillor Brown said: “There’s been lots of pressure put on us and I’m pretty disgusted with the way they’ve treated us.”

Read moreSee the latest Preston news and headlines

What do you make of Councillor Brown’s comments? What do you think of the imminent lockdown? Let us know in the comments.

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