Northumberland should be treated as a ‘special case’ and not be subject to level 3 restrictions, says council head

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Northumberland should be treated as a “special case” and not subject to Level 3 restrictions according to a council chief.This follows a pre-organized meeting between council leaders and the government to discuss infection rates in the Northeast and that progress on Level 2 was reversed on Friday.

But, it is now understood that local authority leaders and ministers will meet on Monday to discuss the lockdown restrictions.

Right now the northeast is on level 2, which means pubs and restaurants have to close at 10 p.m. and two households cannot meet inside.

Mixing of households can take place but with no more than six people and in an outdoor environment.

As no meeting has taken place yet, it is not known if this will change.

Glen Sanderson, head of Northumberland County Council, said Northumberland should be a “special case” because of its tiny letters.

He added: “The actions we have all taken in Northumberland and even the whole region have helped stabilize what was a rapidly escalating situation.

“I made it clear to ministers and officials that if Level 3 were imposed on the region, we would strongly oppose it for Northumberland, based on our current numbers, which show an improvement in the situation.

“The current restrictions are tough enough for everyone, our families, our businesses and the county as a whole, and I believe Northumberland should be a special case if Level 3 is considered.

“Ultimately, decisions about what level we belong to will be made by government, but the health and well-being of Northumberland as a whole is our top priority.”

PA Media data shows the number of new coronavirus cases has slowed in the region, with Newcastle reporting 313.1 cases per 100,000 in the seven days leading up to October 18, down from 466.6 the week before.

In County Durham, cases went from 338.1 to 329.2, in North Tyneside it went from 251.5 to 210.7 and in South Tyneside it went from 245.1 to 235.1.

But in Sunderland cases jumped to 321.9 from 299.2, in Gateshead’s cases from 255.4 to 258.8, in Northumberland cases remained at 175.5.

Martin Gannon, head of the Gateshead Council, said that overall the region has a “positive story to tell” and said delaying the meeting would put leaders in a stronger position.

He said: “Overall we have a positive story to tell and if [meeting] is postponed to next week, our position is strengthening.

“I think I’m waiting for him [the meeting with ministers] which will take place next week, and I would prefer it to take place next week because we would be in a better position.

“Last week we had a very mature discussion about what the data was telling us.

“The regions of local authority 7 in the North East are showing stabilization as we put measures in place a few weeks ago.

“The numbers for Tees Valley are increasing so hopefully the government is not going to consolidate Tees Valley and Local Community 7 as a whole.

“Our public health directors have informed us that we need more power and we have made a tough political appeal and we have been vindicated.

“We could go to level 3, but we have a chance to avoid it. ”

Gateshead MP Ian Mearns said the region should be given more decision-making powers.

He added: “We are made to be on hot coals, awaiting a call in case ministers want to have a meeting with us.

“We could spare them this level of consultation if they gave resources to local authorities and local public health directors and let them continue. “

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