Conservative group pressures council over ‘more targeted' restrictions in Calderdale

Calderdale Council’s Conservative group have joined the party’s Calder Valley MP in pressurising the authority to adapt a more targeted approach to local lockdowns.
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Group Leader Coun Steven Leigh (Ryburn) and his council colleagues have called on the council to show “bold and decisive leadership” over the issue by making “very necessary and urgent changes” over how local restrictions are applied.

They claim the current position – local restrictions were applied across the borough, and other areas of West Yorkshire, Greater Manchester and Lancashire, from July 31 after a rise in COVID-19 cases – is unfair to residents in the Calder Valley.

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Coun Leigh’s group argue that a one-size-fits-all approach is not working and say the Calder Valley Parliamentary constituency part of the local authority is accounting for only 16 per cent of Calderdale’s COVID-19 cases.

Leader of Calderdale Council’s Conservative Group, Coun Steven LeighLeader of Calderdale Council’s Conservative Group, Coun Steven Leigh
Leader of Calderdale Council’s Conservative Group, Coun Steven Leigh

They also argue that with more than two thirds of Calderdale cases within a four square mile area, resources could be targeted to help reduce incidences where COVID-19 cases were highest.

They also believe some parts of the Halifax constituency are also being adversely affected even if rates are not high.

The letter, which is signed by Coun Leigh, his Deputy Coun Stephen Baines (Northowram and Shelf), Coun Scott Benton (Brighouse), Coun Howard Blagbrough (Brighouse), Coun Peter Caffrey (Northowram and Shelf), Coun Geraldine Carter (Ryburn), Coun Regan Dickenson (Rastrick), Coun John Hardy (Skircoat), Coun David Kirton (Hipperholme and Lightcliffe), Coun Chris Pillai (Rastrick), Coun George Robinson (Hipperholme and Lightcliffe) and Coun Sophie Whittaker (Rastrick).

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The letter to Leader of the Council Coun Tim Swift (Lab, Town) and Chief Executive Robin Tuddenham says: “Many Calderdale residents are being forced to comply with stringent measures which restrict their daily activities – despite the compelling evidence that the majority of residents live in areas with low transmission rates.

“Our local economy is also being unduly impacted by these Additional Measures and businesses in areas of low transmission rates are bearing the full brunt of diminished demand as a result.”

The group argues that weekly infection rates should be used to target geographical boundaries, an approach already adopted by Blackburn and Pendle councils and has called on the council’s controlling Labour group to define specific geographical areas for Additional Measures, showing it was an “agile” council.

At a scrutiny board meeting last week Coun Whittaker, whose father, Calder Valley MP Craig Whittaker, has also signed the letter, has been arguing for postcode based restrictions, asked Calderdale’s Director of Public Health, Debs Harkins, what her view on more localised restrictions was.

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In reply, Ms Harkins, said that outbreaks were happening across the borough, with highest numbers in parts of Halifax but also smaller outbreaks elsewhere, for example in Todmorden.

But, she said, data had shown that people who were working in places where there had been an outbreak tended to live in Halifax.

“What that shows us is there is connectivity.

People don’t just live their lives in Halifax, but throughout the borough.

“People are connected in terms of where they spend their days – they might live in Halifax but work in Brighouse or Elland, so for that reason I am not sure how effective locking down part of the borough would be,” said Ms Harkins.