Coronavirus restrictions to be lifted in majority of West Yorkshire wards - but some urban areas stay under local lockdown
Coronavirus restrictions in West Yorkshire will be lifted in a select number of council wards from next Wednesday after Tory MPs succeeded in their bid for a more localised approach to the measures.
Conservative MP for Colne Valley Jason McCartney confirmed all of his constituency was being lifted out of restrictions covering Kirklees.
He said the Colne and Holme Valleys, Lindley, Golcar, Crosland Moor, Netherton and Lindley.
And similar measures would be taken in Calderdale and Bradford.
But the saga has been hit with political infighting as Labour and Tory politicians hit out at each other for a break down in talks over what recommendations to make to the Government.
And it is understood Tory MPs and councillors found out about the change of direction today before Labour-run council leaders.
Labour councillor Josh Fenton-Glynn said Calderdale’s leadership, chief executive, and public health team had not been informed of the restrictions changes by 5pm.
But he said: “The Government seems to have briefed the opposition Conservative group and many papers. This is shameful and playing politics with public safety.”
A Labour source added: “The Tory MPs revelling in this announcement aren’t even pretending this isn’t a stitch up. They’re playing Russian roulette with public health.”
A letter seen by The Yorkshire Post also confirmed the same arrangement for Calderdale, where restrictions would remain in wards with high transmission rates and be lifted in low transmission areas.
The letter, from the council’s Conservative group, said: “Calderdale residents in low transmission areas were unnecessarily subject to restrictions. This was having a preventable impact on Calderdale residents and the local economy.”
But Conservatives have blamed Labour for the confusion and focused on a statement released by Calderdale leader Tim Swift, Bradford leader Susan Hinchcliffe and Kirklees leader Shabir Pandor, calling for lifting measures across all wards as they said the messaging had become “confusing”.
Mr McCartney said: “Me and Mark [Eastwood, MP for Dewsbury] felt it was important to send a clear message because there could be an opportunity to take some areas out of restrictions.
“I wanted that reflected in the statement.
“But the Labour leadership of Kirklees Council, supported by their MPs, didn’t want to do that.”
Coun Pandor swiftly distanced himself from the statement yesterday.
One individual who was present at the Kirklees negotiations said the statement had taken many by surprise and that it had “blown a wide hole” in attempts to achieve a consensus.
Mr Eastwood said: “The consensus was on condition that we all agreed a statement.
“We were working on that through the day. We were nearly there and then the other statement came out.
“That undermined everything that we were trying to achieve.
“It’s political games-playing, and Shabir Pandor needs to take responsibility for that.”
From September 2 Dewsbury and Batley, Halifax, and Bradford and Keighley towns will remain under restrictions.
But other areas will be freed to allow people to mix with family and friends.
Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said: “We brought in measures to protect people in these parts of Northern England, and I want to thank residents who have worked so hard to get on top of this virus.
“We’re seeing the positive results of our local approach, and are able to bring in increasingly targeted measures.
“It is vital we can maintain this good progress. I have every faith people across the county, especially in areas where we are seeing higher numbers of cases, will continue to play their part by following local rules, and self-isolating and requesting a free test as soon as they get any symptoms.”
The areas which will be free of restrictions are:
Windhill and Wrose
Greenland and Stainland
Hipperholme and Lightcliffe
Holme Valley South
Liversedge and Gomersal
Crosland Moor and Netherton
Holme Valley North
Birstall and Birkenshaw