Statement by Leader of Wirral Council, Cllr Janette Williamson:
“Despite the Government decision to impose the severest lockdown on Wirral and the rest of the Liverpool City Region, myself and other local leaders are determined to ensure this is not an either/or between the health of people in our communities and Wirral businesses and jobs.
“We are committing £40 million of additional local funding to shore up the woeful Government help being offered to businesses forced to close and affected by the lockdown. Only with the adequate support needed can we get the COVID rates down, take the pressure off our NHS and move out of Tier 3 as quickly as possible.
“The decision to make Wirral undergo Tier 3 restrictions was the Government’s decision and theirs alone – it was made by Whitehall and imposed on us. In the face of being told this we have put all our energy into convincing the Government to increase support for those businesses affected by the local lockdown.
“The Government made it clear from the outset that the Tier 3 restrictions would be imposed on a LCR footprint. Wirral has been part of the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority since it was first created more than six years ago. The LCR includes Sefton, St Helens, Knowsley, Liverpool, Halton and Wirral and while cases of Covid-19 are high across the region and have been increasing rapidly in recent weeks including here in Wirral with hospital admissions also rising quickly, so it is vital that we take action now across the whole city region to reduce transmission of the virus.
“For me this is about protecting the lives and the livelihoods of the people of Wirral. We are seeing our hospitals beginning to struggle as admissions of people suffering from the Covid-19 virus soar and rates are now reaching levels not seen since April.
“Wirral’s rate of infection is 259 per 100,000 – a massive increase from early September when there were just a handful, and although we are fortunate to be lower than many of our neighbouring authority areas, the rate of increase is such that this could easily change very quickly. This why we recognise need to act now.
“We have been – and continue – to do everything we can to fight for every business here, including those forced to shut due to the lockdown, those in their supply chain and linked businesses, and those who are struggling because their custom has dropped. We have fought tooth and nail to get more Government support and continue to do so but we have to remember why we are facing this again – this virus is deadly and will take more lives, and we need to do what we can to limit its spread.
“As local leaders in the city region we have had this decision imposed on us and while we recognise the need for measures to tackle increasing Covid-19 infections we continue to do everything we can to help local businesses to get them through this.”