Not only was West Yorkshire’s new metro mayor Tracy Brabin, Kirklees Council leader Shabir Pandor, MPs and public health directors not consulted but they – just like everyone else – only learned about the new restrictions when the Government’s website was updated.
If the latest measures are so essential, why did Ministers sneak them out in such a cackhanded manner? For Dr Thérèse Coffey, the Work and Pensions Secretary, to then say that this is merely about formalising guidance is disingenuous when insufficient financial support from her department for people required to self-isolate has undermined lockdowns.
Her glib, condescending and blasé words are, frankly, typical of a London Government that pays ‘lip service’ to mayors and wider devolution. The fact that just eight local authorities are affected, according to the Government, makes it even more inexcusable that Ministers did not brief local leaders in advance.
Not only would this have been courteous but a more collaborative approach – people are being urged not to travel in or out of Kirklees or meet indoors – could have avoided much of the prevailing confusion.
After all, the eight areas in question all have diverse multi-racial communities where families, particularly from BAME backgrounds, have been reluctant to be inoculated. They need reassurance – and this can only come from local community leaders rather than out-of-touch Ministers.
In a Commons statement, Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi said the Government will look to communicate “more effectively”. Frankly, it can’t get any worse than this very avoidable shambles.
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