Leader calls for Northumberland to be 'special case' if North East goes into Tier 3

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Northumberland should be treated as a “special case” and not subjected to Tier 3 restrictions according to a council boss.

This comes after a previously arranged meeting between council leaders and Government to discuss the North East’s infection rates and the progress under Tier 2 was cancelled on Friday.

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At present the North East is in Tier 2, meaning households are unable to meet indoors, among other restrictions.

Cllr Glen Sanderson, leader of Northumberland County CouncilCllr Glen Sanderson, leader of Northumberland County Council
Cllr Glen Sanderson, leader of Northumberland County Council

Mixing of households can take place but with no more than six people and in an outdoor environment.

As a meeting hasn’t happened yet, it is not known if this will change.

Glen Sanderson, Leader of Northumberland County Council, said Northumberland should be a “special case” because of its lower cases.

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He added: “The actions we have all taken in Northumberland and indeed across the region have helped to stabilise what was a rapidly escalating situation.

“I have made it clear to ministers and officials that should Tier 3 be imposed on the region we will strongly oppose this for Northumberland, based on our current figures, which show an improving situation.

“The current restrictions are tough enough for everyone, our families, our businesses and for the county as a whole, and I believe that Northumberland should be a special case should Tier 3 be considered.

“Ultimately decisions about which tier we are in will be made by Government, but the health and wellbeing for the whole of Northumberland is our top priority.”

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There have been widespread concerns about Northumberland, particularly rural areas in north Northumberland, being lumped in with densely populated communities in Tyne and Wear.

Rolling data appears to show cases have slowed in the North East.

Martin Gannon, leader of Gateshead Council, said that overall the region has a “positive story to tell”, and said delaying the meeting would put leaders in a stronger position.

He said: “Across the board we have a positive story to tell and if this [meeting] gets pushed back into next week our position gets stronger.

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“I think I am expecting it [the meeting with ministers] to take place next week, and I would prefer it to take place next week because we would be in a better position.

“Last week we had a really mature discussion about what the data was telling us.

“The Local Authority 7 areas of the North East are showing stabilisation because we put some measures in place some weeks ago.

“The figures in Tees Valley are rising so I am hoping that Government aren’t going to club together the Tees Valley and the Local Authority 7 as a whole.

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“We were advised by our directors of public health that we need more powers and we made a difficult political call and we have been vindicated.

“We might go into Tier 3, but we have a chance of avoiding it.”

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