Local Democracy

There have been 618 new cases of coronavirus confirmed on Thursday in Lincolnshire, as the weekly number of people getting jabbed continues to fall, sparking a call to action from local health bosses.

The government’s COVID-19 dashboard on Thursday reported 428 new cases in Lincolnshire, 110 in North East Lincolnshire and 80 in North Lincolnshire.

NHS figures have reported no further hospital deaths in Northern Lincolnshire and Goole hospitals trust.

Government figures, however, showed two further updates to their deaths data for North East Lincolnshire residents.

On Wednesday, the dashboard recorded 599 new cases, with 363 of those in Lincolnshire, 154 in North East Lincolnshire and 82 in North Lincolnshire. There was one death reported yesterday in North Lincolnshire.

Nationally, on Thursday cases increased by 31,117 to 5,801,561 while deaths rose by 85 to a total of 129,515.

Lincolnshire’s coronavirus cases up to July 29.

Vaccine figures released by the government on Thursday showed Lincolnshire had now given out 1,019,216 cumulative doses, up 13,056 on the previous week’s 1,006,160 total. The increase is 715 doses fewer than the previous week’s 13,771 doses.

Of those 557,452 are first doses, while 461,764 are second. The documents have updated the Lincolnshire population to 634,453 using the Office for National Statistics 2020 population estimates. This means the percentage of the population over the age of 16 to have received a first dose is now 87%, while 73% have had their second second.

Of those aged over 18, a total of 554,592 people have received their first dose, while 460,784 people over 18 have been double-jabbed.

There have been 2,860 under 18s given their initial jabs – these include individuals who are, or who live with, vulnerable people. 980 have had their second.

In North East Lincolnshire 195,315 doses have been given out, with 87,200 of those being second doses. Meanwhile, 221,723 doses have been given out in North Lincolnshire, of which 101,130 are second doses.

Compared to the latest population figures, around 68% of North East Lincolnshire’s eligible population has been double-jabbed, while in North Lincolnshire the proportion is 71.8%.

| Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

Young people in Lincolnshire are being warned they still need to get their COVID jabs – even though infection rates are dropping.

While more than one million vaccinations have now been given across the county, there has been a very definite drop-off in uptake amongst people under 40, especially those aged 24-29, and this is a picture that is replicated across the entire country.

Rebecca Neno, director of COVID and influenza vaccination programmes for NHS Lincolnshire, said: “Anecdotally there does seem to be a sense amongst some people, particularly younger ones, that since the numbers of COVID cases have been falling over the previous week, they do need not to be vaccinated. They could not be more wrong.”

Nationally, the debate over the “pingdemic” has continued, with the number of self-isolation alerts sent by the COVID-19 app rising to a record 689,313.

The figures covering the seven days to July 21 are an increase of more than 70,000 compared to last week.

Prof Jonathan Van-Tam. | Photo: ULHT

Boston’s own Jonathan Van Tam, the deputy chief medical officer for England, has been answering questions on BBC Radio 1 today where he revealed vaccines have prevented 22 million cases and 60,000 deaths.

However, he said young people are still being taken to intensive care and that COVID variants had “diluted the effectiveness” of the vaccine.

He warned of a “bumpy” autumn and winter, but said vaccines could prevent any further lockdowns.

Foreign secretary Dominic Raab has told Sky News that more countries could be added to the amber and green travel lists as the government gets “increasingly confident”.

The next review is a week on Thursday, however, on Wednesday the government announced fully vaccinated travellers from the EU and the US would not have to quarantine when arriving in England, Scotland or Wales from an amber list country.


Coronavirus data for Greater Lincolnshire on Thursday, July 29

80,173 cases (up 618)

  • 52,303 in Lincolnshire (up 428)
  • 12,356 in North Lincolnshire (up 80)
  • 15,514 in North East Lincolnshire (up 110)

2,212 deaths (up two)

  • 1,629 from Lincolnshire (no change)
  • 304 from North Lincolnshire (no change)
  • 279 from North East Lincolnshire (up two)

of which 1,324 hospital deaths (no change)

  • 820 at United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust (up one)
  • 43 at Lincolnshire Community Health Service hospitals (no change)
  • 1 at Lincolnshire Partnership Foundation Trust (no change)
  • 460 in Northern Lincolnshire (NLAG) (no change)

5,801,561 UK cases, 129,515 deaths

DATA SOURCE — FIGURES CORRECT AT THE TIME OF THE LATEST UPDATE. POSTCODE DATA INCLUDES DEATHS NOT IN HEALTHCARE FACILITIES OR IN HOSPITALS OUTSIDE AUTHORITY BOUNDARIES.

The City of Lincoln Council has run out of ‘easy hits’ for budget cuts, the leader has told a committee examining changes to toilet provision.

A scrutiny select committee on Wednesday night rejected a call-in on the controversial changes, the day after a 1,500 signature petition against the closure of Westgate loos was handed in to the authority.

Conservative Councillors Thomas Dyer, Christopher Reid and Mark Storer called for more detailed information on the decision, further consultation and for an equality and impact assessment to be carried out.

Responding to a question on whether funding could be found elsewhere, Councillor Ric Metcalfe reiterated the council had already made £8 million savings since 2010, and still had a further £1.75m to find over the next two years.

He said this had mostly been without affecting frontline services.

“We’ve been everywhere else – more than once, we’ve been everywhere, all over the council’s budget and continued to squeeze it literally until the pips squeak,” he said.

“We are in a position where we are absolutely desperate because this has been going on for so long.

“There are no easy hits left, absolutely none. We would not be sitting round this table tonight if there were.”

He said if there was movement in the budget, the authority would ‘not have done the dreadful deed’ of closing the Drill Hall.

“We’re not in a situation where we’ve got choices available to us, we’re going to have this conversation for the next year or two unless something fundamental changes and people are still going to sit around this table and ask ‘why can’t we find it from somewhere else?’.”

Councillor Metcalfe refused to say what the next cuts would be, how much they would be or where they would come from.

He said a suggestion a 20p charge could be introduced was too risky to take forward since it did not guarantee an income.

The committee was told the business case for the changes had been thorough, with consultation responses of around 800 reaching double the average 350 to 400, despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

Campaigners outside Westgate toilets. | Photo: Daniel Jaines

Councillor Metcalfe said if the council’s position changed, he would consider how to reopen public toilets.

He reiterated no-one wanted to see toilets close, and that if he were not a councillor he, and his colleagues, would have been joining campaigners.

An equality assessment had been carried out, the committee was told.

Councillor Thomas Dyer, introducing the call-in, said he believed the ‘full narrative’ of the decision had not been discussed and accused the consultation of ‘setting out to generate the answers it wanted’.

“As consultations go, this was far off what I’d expect to see for such an important topic and was not as well promoted as city council consultations,” he said.

He said the cluster of toilets around Tentercroft Street, the bus station and Central Market was disproportionate to those around the uphill area.

The committee voted against the call-in with the poll pitting the two Labour and two Conservative members against each other and the tie broken by Labour chairman Bill Bilton.

The leader of Lincoln council has admitted that if he wasn’t a member of the authority, he would be on the picket line with campaigners, as a petition to save Lincoln’s Westgate toilets is handed in.

Bailgate business owner Fiona Purkiss presented the 1,463-signature Save Our Loos petition to the authority’s full council meeting on Tuesday night.

The City of Lincoln Council hopes to save around £86,000 a year by closing public toilets around the city, however, campaigners say they are a valuable part of the high street.

Fiona, who has organised two protests against the closures, told councillors on Tuesday: “I do not think this is a political issue, it is a basic human right that we are having taken away from us fast by your decision to half the number of loos uphill.

“We are not a third world country we are a vibrant, growing city. So I beg you to stop this and just reopen the loos for local residents, visitors, and the business community.

“COVID has been really tough for us all, and now we are starting to recover our own council is trying to chop us off at the knees.”

Artwork by local artist Elaine Gorton to protest the closure of the toilets. | Image: Supplied.

Under the proposals:

  • The authority will close the Victorian urinals at The Lawn, on Union Road and at Newport Arch
  • Facilities at Lucy Tower and South Park will open for special events only
  • Westgate car park’s toilets will only allow access via radar key, and during special events such as the Christmas Market
  • The bus station facilities along with toilets on Tentercroft Street, Castle Square, Hartsholme Country Park and Boultham will remain open
  • Sincil Street’s ladies toilet will be replaced with a new “modern, unisex” facility within plans to refurbish the Cornhill Market approved last week

Council leader Ric Metcalfe said he had “every sympathy” with petitioners and understood the “widespread concern”.

He said “good quality, accessible” toilets should be provided by the council as an “absolute basic service”.

Councillor Metcalfe said: “If I were not a member of this council, I’m sure my own signature, along with other members of this council, would be on this petition and I’m sure we would have been out there with our placards as well.”

However, he said there was “no magic wand just as there was never a magic money tree”.

He added: “I along with my colleagues have a solemn and legal duty to make sure the council’s books are balanced.”

Campaigners outside Westgate toilets. | Photo: Daniel Jaines

He repeated that the council’s finances were still dire, with the authority facing cuts to services across the board.

“The city council has been forced to reduce spending by £8million since 2010… and we still have £1.75m to find over the next two years,” he said.

He moved to reassure residents that “most of our toilets will remain open”.

The petition was accepted but not acted on.

A scrutiny committee is due to examine the proposals for the city as a whole in detail tonight (Wednesday).

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