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MP questions local tiers decision process and the role of Warwickshire County Council

Matt Western MP is pressing for answers from Warwickshire County Council leaders after it was claimed they ‘requested’ the region be grouped with Coventry and Solihull under the new COVID-19 restrictions.

The Warwick and Leamington MP has accused the county council of lacking transparency.

He says he and other local decision makers were excluded from the negotiations which led to the area being subject to the harshest measures.

Last week, the government prompted outrage after designating Warwickshire in Tier 3 under the new system of restrictions.

Warwickshire was grouped with Coventry and Solihull despite having a lower rate of transmission of the virus.

Mr Western responded by calling for a review into the region’s placement in Tier 3.

He also demanded the data behind the decision be published and businesses be compensated.

Last week, Stratford District Council launched a legal challenge against the government, disputing the decision – only to withdraw its case yesterday (December 9).

In a statement, Stratford District Council Leader Councillor Jefferson wrote: “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.”

The previously undisclosed admission has reignited concerns Warwickshire County Council held conversations with the government and acted without consulting local partners.

Matt Western said today: “On several occasions now I have demanded the government analysis that led to the imposition of Tier 3 restrictions in Warwickshire be released to the public.

“The revelation today that 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.”