MP MATT Western is calling for answers after it was revealed Warwickshire County Council ‘requested’ the county be grouped with Coventry and Solihull under tier restrictions.
The Warwick and Leamington MP has accused the council of lacking transparency and excluding local decision makers from the negotiations which led to the area being subject to the harshest measures.
Warwick and Stratford district councils wrote to government calling for the decision to be reviewed, with the latter launching legal action. This was later withdrawn.
In a statement Stratford District Council leader Tony Jefferson said: “In its response the government also shared some new information with us which we were not aware when we made the decision to challenge them; the county council requested the approach of considering tiers at public health, upper tier authority level along with clustering with Coventry and Solihull.”
Matt Western believes the county council held talks with government which he said MPs, local councils and decisionmakers should have been part of.
He told the Observer: “The revelation the county council could have requested that Warwickshire be included with Coventry and Solihull will be met with further suspicion from the public.
“Along with district and borough councils in the region, local MPs appear to have been excluded from these discussions – which is unacceptable.
“The decision has undermined local democracy and public trust in the government’s devastating restrictions.
“I wholeheartedly agree that strong measures are necessary to prevent any further spread of covid 19 and safeguard the NHS. And I also accept that the lower capacity of hospital provision in our region would be an issue.
“But the public and its representatives should have been consulted about this.
“However, with transmission rates continuing to fall, I am optimistic that the region should soon be taken out of Tier 3.”
The county council says Warwickshire, Coventry and Solihull councils wrote to government ahead of designation of tier status.
A spokesman said: “Concerned we would be designated at a West Midlands regional level we requested that tier status should be assigned at the local authority, public health level. This was given the fact that at that time Warwickshire’s covid infection rate was lower than the West Midlands and we sought to maximise our chances of being in Tier 2 as opposed to Tier 3.
“This has subsequently been borne out by much reduced levels across Warwickshire and in Stratford in particular. In response we have had confirmation from the Secretary of State that, moving forwards, Warwickshire will be considered individually, on its own merits. This is crucial as we strive to achieve the best prospects for our local business and especially our hospitality sector.”