Leicester mayor calls for end to 'unnecessary and unjustified' local lockdown

The Mayor of Leicester has called for an end to the city’s sweeping local lockdown, arguing the restrictions are “unjustified” for the vast majority of its population.

Sir Peter Soulsby stressed that only 10 per cent of the city was showing higher coronavirus transmission rates, and that these were largely located in inner-city areas with high levels of deprivation.

He argued that keeping the remaining 90 per cent of the town under lockdown had become “unnecessary”.

His comments came as the Government considers whether to lift measures in the area.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said a decision would be made over the next 24 hours but the infection rate in Leicester was still “a lot higher than elsewhere”.

On Wednesday, Sir Peter posted a report on social media detailing localised outbreaks of the virus across the country.

He wrote: “Together with other local authority leaders throughout England, we have been asking for some weeks for neighbourhood data about the coronavirus testing in our areas.

“We have now received the first set of that data.

“This clearly shows that the areas most significantly affected by the virus are those with high levels of deprivation in the inner city.

“Given what this data shows, it is no longer possible to justify the continuation of the ‘lockdown’ across the remaining 90 per cent of the Greater Leicester area.”

He added: “Data highlights only 10 per cent of Leicester showing higher transmission rates – should have had this information weeks ago to focus efforts.

“Other 90 per cent must share my anger that delay in data caused unnecessary and unjustified.”

Government to make decision on Leicester lockdown

Leicester became the first place in the country to have tight restrictions reimposed on June 30 following a rise in coronavirus infections.

The most recent data from Public Health England (PHE) shows that the number of new cases of coronavirus per 100,000 population in Leicester has dropped from 127.2 in the seven days to July 5 to 104.4 in the seven days to July 12.

It was 143.6 in the seven days to June 28, just before the local lockdown was imposed.

Second on the list is Pendle in Lancashire where the rate has gone up from 14.2 to 74.4, and where 68 new cases have been recorded in the seven days to July 12.

Asked about when the Leicester lockdown would end, Mr Hancock told ITV’s Peston on Wednesday evening: “The formal decision will be taken over the next 24 hours.

“Tomorrow I will be speaking to the leadership of Leicester and having meetings on this.

“The infection rate has come down in Leicester. It’s still a lot higher than elsewhere. And, so, I don’t want to prejudge a decision tomorrow.”

Mr Hancock told MPs earlier in the week that a public announcement would be made “as soon as is reasonably possible”.

While the decision is expected to be made on Thursday, the date of the announcement has not been confirmed.

Evening Standard – News