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Government agrees City Region gyms will re-open

On BBC Radio Merseyside this morning, Steve Rotheram, Metro Mayor of Liverpool City Region said:

I’d like to read a short statement on behalf of; Cllr Rob Polhill (Halton) – Cllr Graham Morgan (Knowsley) – Mayor Joe Anderson (Liverpool) – Cllr Ian Maher (Sefton) – Cllr David Baines (St Helens) and Cllr Janette Williamson (Wirral), which reads:

“On behalf of the Leaders and MPs across our City Region – I entered into further talks with 10 Downing Street last night to highlight the inconsistencies of the measures that we had been placed under – following the Government’s decision to impose Tier 3 restrictions in our area.

“Collectively we have consistently requested the scientific evidence that supported the imposition of the suite of measures under tier 3 – and we have pointed out the inconsistencies of approach following the announcement that Lancashire would not have exactly the same package of restrictions as our City Region.

“Talks continued till late last night – and the Government have agreed with the case that I put forward  – that they would now bring us in line with other Tier 3 area – so that (like Lancashire and Greater Manchester) – soft play areas would be closed – but that gyms could reopen.

“I argued that gyms in the Liverpool City Region were no less safe than those in Lancashire – that had been allowed to remain open.

“I also convinced them that – as we now had local Test and Tracing (and had been chosen as a pilot area to trial new Test Technologies) – we could manage the safety of gym users as well as anywhere in the country.

“The Government will now include the provision to rescind their original decision – when they lay the legislation before Parliament tomorrow – on the orders for Greater Manchester.”

 

 

City Region leaders demand ‘immediate review’ of gym and leisure centre closures

Cllr Ian Maher, Leader of Sefton Council has joined The Metro Mayor, City Mayor and other Liverpool City Region Council leaders to ask the Government to conduct an ‘immediate review’ of its decision to close gyms under Tier 3 restrictions.

As part of the review, Government ministers are being asked to provide the scientific evidence to support the City Region’s gym and leisure centres being closed. If they are unable to do so, they are being asked to change the law so they can open again.

In the letter, the Metro Mayor, City Mayor and other Liverpool City Region Council leaders state that while the Government conducts any review of gym and leisure centre closures, they continue to urge everyone to follow the law  as it currently stands and will fully support Merseyside Police in any enforcement activity required.

 

Rt Hon Boris Johnson MP

Prime Minister of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

10 Downing Street 

London 

SW1A 2AA

 

19th October 2020

Dear Prime Minister

We are writing as the Leaders and Mayors of the City Region regarding the government’s decision to close gyms and leisure centres as part of Liverpool City Region’s tier 3 package.

We are very conscious of the high rates of coronavirus in our region and the pressure this causes our NHS, and have therefore always understood the need for action to bring the virus under control and protect the health of our residents.

As you will know we were given no choice about the specific package of measures that would be applied to us, but did ask for assurances that the restrictions in our area would have the desired effect of impacting on the transmission rate and take some of the pressure off our NHS, which faces being overwhelmed. To ensure the measures had the best chance of success, we requested the scientific evidence to support their imposition. 

At no stage did we ask for gyms and leisure centres to be closed – despite several ministers subsequently erroneously claiming otherwise. Indeed, during talks we repeatedly questioned why decisions on the suite of regulations were being taken, specifically pointing to the fitness and mental health benefits that gyms and leisure centres provide to our residents. Responses to our requests for the scientific basis for the closure of gyms have, to date, not been forthcoming.

Last Friday the Government decided to place Lancashire into Tier 3. However, gyms there were not required to close. We find this decision perplexing. The Tier system was supposed to simplify the public’s understanding of restrictions to avoid the confusion of the local ‘lockdown’ patchwork quilt.

We simply cannot accept our region being treated differently to other Tier 3 areas, without robust scientific evidence. These inconsistencies in restrictions between areas within the same tier risk undermining the new system from the beginning.

So today we are writing to request an immediate review of the government’s decision to close gyms and leisure centres in the Liverpool City Region. 

We believe this process should take the following steps:

1)   The Government should provide the scientific evidence that gyms and leisure centres are in LCR are less safe than elsewhere in the country – or that they are significantly contributing to the spread of COVD-19 in our city region.

2)   If (as we suspect) ministers are not able to provide this evidence, then we are requesting that the government amends the regulations passed by parliament last week – to rescind the inclusion of gyms and leisure centres from the list of restricted businesses – and allow them to safely re-open, at the earliest opportunity.

3)   Under the legislation passed in Parliament our Tier 3 restrictions have to be reviewed in three weeks’ time. If the government is unable to provide evidence to justify gyms and leisure centres closures, and is also unable to amend the regulations before this point, then we ask that you give us the discretionary power locally to determine that gyms can re-opened at this point.

While this review is undertaken, we will of course continue to urge people to abide by the letter of the current legislation – and fully support Merseyside Police in the fantastic work they do to keep people in the City Region safe every day. 

We look forward to receiving your response on this important issue.

Yours sincerely

Steve Rotheram 

Metro Mayor of the Liverpool City Region 

 Cllr Rob Polhill 

Leader of Halton Council 

Cllr Graham Morgan 

Leader of Knowsley Council 

Joe Anderson OBE 

Mayor of Liverpool 

 Cllr Ian Maher  

Leader of Sefton Council 

 Cllr David Baines 

Leader of St Helens Council 

 Cllr Janette Williamson 

Leader of Wirral Council

cc Ed Lister

City Region Secures ÂŁ44 million Tier 3 Covid-19 Support Package

Liverpool City Region has secured an additional ÂŁ30 million in COVID-19 business support from the Government.

It comes in addition to the ÂŁ14 million already received to support the local Test, Trace and Isolate system and local enforcement efforts, to make a total of ÂŁ44 million in additional funding secured in support of the Tier 3 restrictions.

The City Region also received ÂŁ7m when it went in to Tier 2 status, meaning a total package of ÂŁ51m so far.

The funding comes after the City Region was the first to be placed on the Tier 3 ‘very high’ Covid alert level restrictions, leading to closures of hospitality and leisure business and impacting many that remain open.

Speaking on behalf of  Sefton Council leader Cllr Ian Maher, the City Mayor and Leaders of the other five city region Local Authorities including  Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram said: “Once it became clear that Tier 3 restrictions were going to be imposed on our City Region, we held a series of meetings with the Government, throughout last weekend, with the aim of protecting our NHS and supporting local people and businesses.

“We have been absolutely clear since we were put in to Tier 3 that we would continue to press the Government and hold meaningful dialogue to secure vitally needed extra economic support.

“The result of this is that, today, we have obtained from the Government, an additional £30million in funding.

“This is welcome news for our economy and the thousands of people whose businesses and jobs will now be supported through this very difficult period.”

Find out more about the latest COVID restrictions and guidance for people considered clinically extremely vulnerable.

Joint statement from Metro Mayor, City Mayor and Leaders of the six Liverpool City Region Local Authorities

“This week the Government imposed Tier 3 restrictions on Liverpool City Region.

“We are very conscious of the high rates of coronavirus in our region and the pressure this causes on our NHS, and have therefore always understood the need for some action to bring the virus under control and protect our residents. However, we have always been clear that we were given no choice about the specific package of measures that would be applied to us, or the scientific evidence to support them.

“We note the decision to move Lancashire into Tier 3 today, while also being concerned that there appear to be differences between the two packages of measures, particularly the opening of gyms.  We therefore require Government to explain, with evidence, why they believe gyms in the Liverpool City Region are a greater risk for COVID transmission, than those elsewhere.

“We simply will not accept our region being treated differently to other Tier 3 areas, without robust scientific evidence. These inconsistencies in restrictions between areas within the same tier risk undermining the new system from the beginning.

“So, today we are once again demanding that government urgently supplies us with the scientific evidence behind their decision to close gyms in our area, while allowing them to stay open in other areas.

“In the meantime, we are doing everything we can to support hospitality and leisure businesses that are affected by the new restrictions via our own £40m emergency fund, using local funds that have been repurposed to support our economy.  The fund has opened for applications today, and we are continuing to press the Government for a wider economic support package, including increased funding for furlough and self-employed people.”

Steve Rotheram
Metro Mayor of the Liverpool City Region 

Cllr Rob Polhill
Leader of Halton Council 

Cllr Graham Morgan
Leader of Knowsley Council 

Joe Anderson OBE
Mayor of Liverpool 

Cllr Ian Maher
Leader of Sefton Council 

Cllr David Baines
Leader of St Helens Council 

Cllr Janette Williamson
Leader of Wirral Council 

Hospitality and Leisure Sector business can now apply for City Region Emergency Fund

Hospitality and leisure businesses in Sefton and across the Liverpool City Region can now apply for support from ÂŁ40million emergency set up to to help protect them fom the huge economic impacts Covid-19 restrictions.

The Fund will be used to help keep businesses in the sector afloat for up to four months, until a wider and more substantial financial support package can be secured from central Government. The aim is that the first funding will reach applicants within 10 days of applications being approved, with subsequent payments phased over the period of the grant.

The  ‘grant application window’ will be open until  5.00pm on Friday 30 October 2020.

Eligible businesses can find out more, including Terms & Conditions, on the Sefton Council website now.

Detailed eligibility criteria will be available to applicants and will include:

  • Small and micro hospitality and leisure businesses
  • Based in the Liverpool City Region – Halton, Knowsley, Liverpool, Sefton, St Helens and Wirral
  • One full-time equivalent employee or more
  • Going concern
  • Business to consumer
  • Trading from a commercial premises

First announced on Friday 2nd October by the Metro Mayor and the Mayor and Leaders of the city region’s six local authorities, the fund had been created and readied for launch earlier last week. However, it was paused following the Chancellor’s announcement last Friday on the national furlough scheme and business support package and the announcement of Liverpool City Region being placed in to the Tier 3 ‘very high risk’ Covid-19 category.

Over the last few days, Combined Authority and Local Authority officers have been working closely with the hospitality sector to understand how the Fund could best be redesigned to support them. The Fund aims to enable viable businesses to continue trading and retain as many jobs as possible, to support temporarily-closed businesses top up employees’ wages and remain solvent and to help lay the ground for economic recovery across the hospitality and leisure sector in the future.

In a joint statement, the Metro Mayor, City Mayor and Leaders of the city region’s six local authorities said: “The past six months have been an exceptionally difficult period for local businesses but despite the challenges they have faced, many have done an incredible job, showcasing the creativity, determination and resilience our region is known for.

“We know business owners and staff are absolutely at breaking point and we will do anything we can to prevent businesses and jobs going to the wall.

“The furlough scheme announced by the Chancellor last week falls far short of what our region needs and deserves. If 80% was the right level of support back in March, then it should be in November. Lots of the people affected by these new restrictions will be in low paid, insecure work and it is deeply unfair to expect them to survive on two-thirds of the minimum wage.

“We will continue to fight for a more comprehensive funding package, but in the meantime, where the national government has stepped away, we, as local leaders, will step up.

“We know that once a business is gone, they are gone, and we must do everything we can to prevent that.

“Our hope is that this fund can provide some interim support and will mean local businesses and their staff survive in the coming weeks and months, until the government does the right thing.

“Our own teams have worked round the clock, in partnership with the sector, to get this fund ready for applications.

“We are committed to ensuring that we turn applications round at pace and get money to those businesses who so desperately need it.

“If, and when, we are successful in securing more national support, it may well replace the need for this fund, enabling us to repurpose the money back to other areas where it is also sorely needed.”

Paul Askew, Chef Patron of The Art School restaurant, said: “The new Tier 3 restrictions are a real hammer blow for hundreds of businesses in our sector and for thousands of our staff.

“I’ve been pleased to work with our colleagues in the Combined Authority and the six Local Authorities to help shape it to our needs.

“It will provide an urgent life-line to hundreds of viable businesses who might otherwise face closing for good due to the restrictions.

“While this fund is hugely welcomed, I join the Metro Mayor, City Mayor and local authority Leaders in calling on the Government to now step up quickly to provide the hospitality sector and our whole economy with full the support we need.”

Natalie Haywood, owner of Leaf and Oh Me Oh My, said: “This emergency fund is sorely needed to help save hundreds of businesses from collapse and thousands of jobs.

“It’s impossible to overstate just how difficult it will be for hospitality businesses to keep trading with these restrictions in place – either because they are still trading but not breaking even or because they are forced to close.

“Once a business and the jobs it supports are gone, they will not come back easily, so we have to do everything we can to keep going so that we have an industry left when we get through Covid-19.

“We are doing everything we can to keep going and protect our staff and have been really pleased to collaborate to shape this emergency fund to meet our needs.”

Find out more from the Sefton Council website now.

 

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