Councillor hits out at Prime Minister’s claims Weston was in ‘local lockdown’

Weston residents told LBC presenter James O'Brien the town was not in local lockdown. Cllr Mike Bell

Weston residents told LBC presenter James O'Brien the town was not in local lockdown. Cllr Mike Bell has said the Government's claims are 'damaging'. - Credit: Archant

North Somerset Council‘s deputy leader has said the Prime Minister’s repeated claims Weston is in a local lockdown are ‘damaging’.

During Prime Minister’s Questions, Boris Johnson was asked about guidance on how local lockdowns will be implemented.

The Prime Minister responded, stating: “Everybody understands and we have seen across the country when there are outbreaks, for instance in Weston or in GP surgeries in North London, there have been local lockdowns and crackdowns.

“We have a very effective cluster busting operation which is designed to ensure that we keep those outbreaks under control.

“Local councils understand how to do it with the local resilience forums and backed up by the Joint Biosecurity Centre.”

Mr Johnson’s claims about Weston were brought up on James O’Brien’s LBC radio show on Monday when two Weston residents called in to state ‘there is no local lockdown’.

The council’s deputy leader Mike Bell said: “It’s incredibly frustrating that the Prime Minister and Government continue to spin this line that Weston went into ‘local lockdown’.

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“While I appreciate the need for the Government to make it look like they’re in complete control of the battle against Covid-19, it really is not helpful and is indeed damaging to keep creating false impressions like this.

“The reality in Weston is that there was a cluster of cases based at the hospital and the only action that was taken was to close the hospital to new patients and carry out an effective testing and tracing process.

“Test and trace was, of course, something that should’ve been happening all along as is becoming increasingly apparent.

“We did not have a local lockdown, we were not advised to have a local lockdown, we were given no guidance as to what a local lockdown might look like in any event and had no powers offered to deliver it anyway.”

Health Secretary Matt Hancock also referred to a lockdown in Weston during a Government coronavirus briefing on June 5.

Cllr Bell added: “North Somerset Council, Weston Hospital and Public Health England dealt with our cluster strongly and appropriately.

“It wasn’t a lockdown and the Government needs to stop saying it was. The first ‘local lockdown’ has now been announced for Leicester and I am sure this will become the example that everyone refers to.”