Lincolnshire council Leaders send letter appealing to Health Secretary not to class county as one Covid tier

Lincolnshire council leaders have written an urgent joint letter to Health Secretary Matt Hancock calling upon him to consider treating the county on a district by district basis when deciding which tier to place the area in after lockdown ends next week.

Coun Martin Hill, Leader of Lincolnshire County Council.

Following a meeting of today's (Wednesday) Lincolnshire Outbreak Engagement Board (LOEB), the Leaders of the county council and district councils have sent a joint letter to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, ahead of the announcement of the tier levels for local authority areas when they come out of lockdown next week.

This has also been sent to Robert Jenrick, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government and all Lincolnshire MPs.

The letter from Coun Martin Hill, Leader of Lincolnshire County Council and chairman of the LOEB, on behalf of all the county's leaders, reads:

"Dear Secretary of State,

"I'm writing on behalf of all the Leaders in Lincolnshire to discuss the Tier Levels you are expected to announce tomorrow.

"We absolutely understand the need to have tiers and social restrictions as a key part of the strategy to contain the Covid-19 virus. However, I must impress on you to look at Lincolnshire differently and at a very local level.

"Lincolnshire is the second biggest county in the country with seven different districts, all with different community types and levels of the virus.

"I have been Leader of Lincolnshire County Council for over 15 years and I know and understand the communities I serve very well. With this in mind, I would suggest that we look at each district and allocate different Tier Levels accordingly, taking into consideration individual district's virus rates, the reduction in rates and the pressure on local NHS health services.

"Infection rates in the majority of the county are well below the national average with South Holland, West Lindsey, South Kesteven and North Kesteven all at or below 200/100,000 per population. It is only in the Lincoln, East Lindsey and Boston areas, where we see levels above the national average but these are all now declining. In fact, there is more than a three-fold difference between the rate in South Holland District Council and Boston.

"Our trajectory for declining rates must indicate the need for less restrictions and greater local flexibility. We are continuing to work hard with businesses and local communities to reaffirm the core messages and working arrangements around 'hands, face, space' and expect to see further reductions in our rates next week.

"It would seem ineffective and potentially damaging to have the whole of the county at the same higher level 'Tier 3', stifling businesses, the local economy and affecting residents' wellbeing, in areas where there is simply no need.

"I would ask you to consider each district on its own data and community understanding. We have well-established relationships with our district council colleagues and these defined areas can be used effectively to target and reduce the virus, whilst minimising the impact on our local communities and economy.

"I would welcome the opportunity to talk to you about this."