Lincolnshire leaders want more control over local tier restrictions. It comes amid fears a blanket ban across the county would be unfair to the districts with lower infection rates.
A meeting of the Coronavirus Outbreak Board today agreed to write a letter to government calling on responsibility for restrictions to be placed with the county’s public health department, which will then be able to assign tiers or restrictions on a more knowledge-led basis — for example by district.
The government has yet to confirm what tiers will apply to which regions, with an announcement due on Thursday, but prior to lockdown Lincolnshire was counted as a single area in tier 1.
But as of November 23, East Lindsey was the area with the third highest infection rates across the whole of the UK with 515.8 per hundred thousand population. Boston was 21st with 428.9.
Numbers have since decreased, but could mean the county as a whole faces the toughest rules yet if applied across the board.
Boston and Skegness MP Matt Warman said it was “highly likely” Boston and East Lindsey would face tier 3 restrictions after speaking to public health ministers.
Lincolnshire County Council leader Martin Hill said on Wednesday: “If the criteria fits for say East Lindsey to be in locked down tier three, okay, but that doesn’t really say why for instance West Lindsey should be when it’s miles away.”
He indicated those in lower risk areas might not see a reason to comply if they were included with those in higher risk areas.
“Lots of this is done better locally because we’ve just got the local knowledge. It’s a shame that government keeps on the centralised model,” he said.
East Lindsey Council Leader Craig Leyland said there were particular issues for each area.
He said: “If it’s just from a county basis, I think it would be very difficult for one area to be more more restrictive because of the results somewhere else. ”
Boston Borough Council leader councillor Paul Skinner, said it “would not be a surprise” if the district ended up in a higher tier due to a “surge in cases locally”
However, he said it was positive numbers were falling adding: “Whichever tier we do end up in, I would encourage all our residents to continue to be responsible, follow the latest rules and guidance, and help bring this virus under control.”
South Holland District Council leader Lord Gary Porter said the science should guide the lockdown, but felt his district “should be treated on the statistics it has got for itself.”
As of November 23, South Holland had an infection rate of 152.6 per hundred thousand population against an England average of 239.9, putting it 211th on the list of councils.
“I don’t understand how anybody would think it would make it easier to deal with cases in East Lindsey by shutting pubs in South Holland,” he said.
“We need to tackle the virus where it is, shutting Spalding businesses won’t deuce Skeggy numbers.
“Withdrawing the civil liberties of people living in Long Sutton won’t reduce the cases in Lincoln.”
Lincolnshire Police and Crime Commissioner Marc Jones added: “If we expect the public to understand and comply, then decisions have to be seen to be fair and evidence based.
“It shows a lack of understanding of large rural counties to impose a once size fits all approach. Local leaders have the skills and mandate to do this much better.
“Saying to one part of Lincolnshire you’ve got to be treated exactly the same as another area, even if it’s 40 miles down the road, just doesn’t make a lot sense if the conditions are so very different.”
Health bosses have previously refused to guess at what level Lincolnshire will be at, but hinted that the current context of the county will see it into placed into a higher tier than before.
Prior to lockdown North and North East Lincolnshire were in tier two and were quickly edging up towards tier three.
The two northern unitaries had infection rates of 448.1 each on Monday.