Is Wakefield in Kirklees? Everything you need to know as government advises people to avoid travelling in areas with high rates of the Indian Covid variant

The government has backtracked on advice urging people not to travel in or out of Kirklees, after days of confusion.

Wednesday, 26th May 2021, 10:09 am
Updated Wednesday, 26th May 2021, 10:10 am

Earlier this week, there was confusion as it was revealed that government had issued new advice on travelling in and out of eight areas where particularly high rates of the new Indian Covid variant have been recorded.

This included Kirklees, Blackburn, Bolton and Burnley.

But as confusion around the swirled, Google revealed there had been a large uptake in people searching for one simple question: Is Wakefield in Kirklees?

The new rules, which advised against all-but essential travel and meeting people inside, sparked fears that more local lockdowns were on the way.

However, local councils and MPs said they had not been made aware of any changes to the guidance, and the government has now backtracked on the advice.

But as confusion swirled, Google revealed there had been a large uptake in people searching for one simple question: Is Wakefield in Kirklees?

Is Wakefield in Kirklees?

No, Wakefield is not in Kirklees - though the two areas share a border.

West Yorkshire is made up of five local authority areas: Wakefield, Leeds, Kirklees, Bradford and Calderdale. Each of these areas has its own council and local services.

The Wakefield district includes Wakefield city, as well as the Five Towns of Pontefract, Castleford, Normanton, Knottingley and Featherstone, and dozens more villages.

Neighbouring Kirklees is home to the towns of Huddersfield, Holmfirth, Mirfield, Cleckheaton and many more.

Some areas of Kirklees, including Batley, Birstall and Dewsbury, do have WF postcode, but this does not mean they are part of the Wakefield district.

If you are unsure which local authority you live in, a good rule of thumb is to check who you pay your Council Tax to, or which authority empties your bins.

If you're still unsure, you can enter your postcode on the government website to find out.

What is the latest government guidance?

The new government guidance was issued on Friday, but was not accompanied by any announcement or press release, and flew under the radar for several days.

It urged people living in the eight areas, including Kirklees, not to travel in or out of their area, and to "take caution" when meeting people who are not in their support bubble, in contradiction to the national relaxation of rules.

The decision was widely criticised by local councils and MPs, who said they had not been made aware of a change in the rules.

Tracy Brabin, the newly elected West Yorkshire mayor, tweeted that the change was causing "anxiety and confusion", and called for clarification.

It also threw doubt on many people's plans for the upcoming Bank Holiday weekend.

But ministers have now backtracked over the change, saying it was not intended to be a new set of rules, but rather advice.

Speaking on BBC Breakfast this morning, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said it did not represent a change in the law, but rather a reminder to residents "that they happen to be living in areas where the risk of transmission is higher".

And in a joint statement on Tuesday the directors of public health in Burnley, Bedford, Blackburn with Darwen, Bolton, Kirklees, Leicester, Hounslow and North Tyneside effectively said the advice could be disregarded, saying it had been confirmed there is no restriction on travel in and out of the areas.

The statement said: “Following the national coverage of recently revised guidance we have met with national officials and confirmed there are no restrictions on travel in or out of each of our areas: there are no local lockdowns.

“In areas where the new Covid variant is spreading we are all working together to boost testing and vaccination and to support self-isolation.

“There are sensible public health precautions people can take as individuals in line with the sorts of advice we have all been following throughout the pandemic.

“We will keep sharing that and working with national officials to make sure people understand what they need to think about as they go about their daily lives.”