planning - Janet Clowes, Conservative group leader cheshire east council 2019

Cheshire East Council opposition leader Janet Clowes says the borough is “not in a state of imminent change” regarding a potential local lockdown, writes Ethan Davies.

The Conservative Wybunbury councillor also welcomed the government’s local lockdown approach as coronavirus cases continue to rise.

Latest figures for Cheshire East authority area (September 19-25) show there were 46 cases of Covid-19 in 100,000 – well above the England average of 26.

There were 178 new cases registered between Sept 19-25, a rise of 72 on the previous week. There have been 551 coronavirus-related deaths registered in Cheshire East (up to September 11).

Cllr Clowes was responding to a video posted by CEC leader Cllr Sam Corcoran, in which he urged residents to act as they did during the spring lockdown by only going out “when really necessary”.

The Labour leader added: “I believe that additional restrictions will be needed and I urge people to only go out where necessary.

“We’re not in lockdown in Cheshire East, but please think back to when we were in lockdown.”

But Cllr Clowes said: “We are still below the national average but that is creeping up.

“The officers are on call all weekend and I have no doubt they would let us know.

“We are not in a state of imminent change.”

Previously, the council has declined to comment when asked if it would request a local lockdown from the Department for Health.

Neighbouring authority Cheshire West and Chester says it had “no plans” to do so.

Cllr Clowes praised the government’s tactics of only imposing local lockdowns, rather than implementing a UK-wide approach.

“I think what the government is doing at the moment is making the best decisions it can with the data it has in the places affected.

“This is too serious not to take a sensible and pragmatic approach to it. If the government is turning round to places like Leicester, Bolton, parts of Wales, it clearly is based on what is a deteriorating situation in terms of rising infection rates.

“This is beyond politics and what’s best at a local level.”

Crewe & Nantwich MP Dr Kieran Mullan said: “Cheshire East or parts of it may well need to have further restrictions, we should all be taking the rules seriously.

“But for a Council leader to put up a video telling people to go into full lockdown off his own back is not the responsible way to do go about these things.

“It is not clear if this view has been agreed with the Director of Public Health or the outbreak board. It is not clear on what evidence he has asked people to do this.

“Cheshire East is not subject to intervention and as of last week it was not on the watch list suggesting it isn’t even among the 100 most concerning areas in the country.

“It is very important people follow the rules we have and be ready to follow stricter rules if they are deemed necessary. The situation can change quickly.

“I welcome anyone encouraging us to be careful and vigilant. But we are going to undermine our messages to the public if the council leader sees fit to go it alone and with very extreme messages.

“Timing is important in what we say to people. We need to see responsible leadership on such an important issue.”

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