Community leaders in Alnwick and Berwick 'furious' and 'frustrated' to be in Tier 3

Community representatives in north Northumberland have expressed disappointment at looming Tier 3 restrictions.

Thursday, 26th November 2020, 2:52 pm
Updated Thursday, 26th November 2020, 2:53 pm

However, the Government’s decision has not gone down well in areas with lower Covid rates than Liverpool and London, both of which have been placed in Tier 2.

Georgina Hill, member for Berwick East on Northumberland County Council, said: “I am absolutely furious and feel so badly for our businesses especially those in the hospitality trade.

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Business and community leaders in Alnwick and Berwick.

"Myself, and others, have been been saying right from the start what a mistake it is to allow ourselves (the LA7) to all be lumped in together.

"The fact that London and Liverpool have been spared the harshest restrictions further shows that we have been completely let down by our representatives in parliament. There is no indication of even a proper attempt to fight our corner.”

Cllr Gordon Castle, member for Alnwick, was also disappointed but called on residents to heed the advice.

“I’m disappointed but not surprised,” he said. “This is a heavy, ongoing burden to many, especially the hospitality trade, and at least very inconvenient to most residents.

Cllr Georgina Hill, Berwick East, Northumberland County Council.

"But there is no negotiation and no appeal, so it’s clearer than the last regional strategy and more straightforward to comply with.

"I’m pleased at least that gyms are staying open and that there is to be a review on December 16.

"I hope people do all within their power to keep cases low and heed the advice, remembering that concessions are not recommendations - they should do what is safest until we are out of this.”

Business leaders have also expressed their frustration.

Lisa Aynsley, chairman of Alnwick Chamber of Trade.

Lisa Aynsley, chairman of Alnwick Chamber of Trade, said: “Although I’m not shocked I’m deeply saddened and frustrated at the Tier 3 announcement.

"The hospitality Industry is integral to everyone’s success in the town.

"The grants and furlough scheme help but is in no way enough to make up for the damaging impact to these businesses.

"I’m sorry as I know this won’t sit well with everyone, but personally I believe it is not only time but absolutely crucial that we all get back to business – this trading period is vital for many of us to survive.

Stephen Scott, chairman of Berwick Chamber of Trade.

"People need to start and take responsibility for their own safety, I myself have walked out of places I have felt were too busy or not safe enough to be in.”

"Northumberland County Council’s decision all those weeks ago to combine with the North East is questionable at least and could prove disastrous going forward."

In recent months, the Northumberland Gazette has been running a #supportlocal campaign calling on people to help their local businesses to get over the lockdown.

Lisa agreed: "Can I highlight once again to the good people of Alnwick to support local as much as they can, particularly the hospitality guys, use the multitude of click and collect and takeaway services as much as possible. The challenges these businesses face are huge, not only a financial strain but the mental health pressure is unprecedented.

"Hospitality, I take my hat off to you I very much hope and will be pushing for a quick turnaround on this decision.

"We all need you to be back up and running ASAP.”

Similar sentiments were echoed by Stephen Scott, chairman of Berwick Chamber of Trade.

He said: “I am extremely surprised and disappointed that Northumberland has been placed into the Tier 3 restriction level, Northumberland's infection level is in line with the average across the whole of England with an infection rate less than 200 per 100,000.

"But yet again, a decision has been made to lump Northumberland into the wider North East region. I can only assume that pressures in the NHS must be playing a part in the decision.

“Tier 3 will have a devastating effect on the hospitality industry in Berwick and across the county and not forgetting the mental health pressures on local residents too.

"All of which could have been avoided if the Government had not made a 'lazy' decision to create the artificial administrative region of the North East.

“I am also disappointed that our local Government leaders and our MP have not lobbied harder on behalf of everyone in Northumberland to make the case a sensible decision for Northumberland. It would appear that our way out of this is solely in the hands of the residents of Tyneside and Wearside.”

Jonathan Walker, director of policy, North East England Chamber of Commerce added: “This announcement that we will be in Tier 3 will be further blow for businesses which have been under restrictions now for a substantial length of time. They must continue to receive the necessary assistance to help mitigate the cumulative impact of these measures.

“We encourage everyone in the North East to really pull together to ensure we exit tier 3 as quickly as possible and to support their local businesses through this difficult time. It has never been more important for us to work as a region to get our Covid rate down, both for our public health and our economy.

“It is also vital we get clarity on how we will move into a lower tier and what will need to be achieved.”

North East NHS and local authority leaders have also issued a joint statement asking for continued public support amid concern at Covid infection rates.

The group includes Sir James Mackey, chief executive of Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust and Glen Sanderson, leader of Northumberland County Council.

They said: “We need to all remember why we are doing this. It is about saving lives and protecting the NHS to ensure it is not over run and able to cope with the demands on our services. We need your support to ensure that all our services remain open and safe.

"If we don’t adhere to the restrictions, we are likely to see a further rise in infection rates, increased hospitalisations and sadly deaths. This is our responsibility and in a typical North East fashion, we know we can all pull together to get us through these difficult times.”

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