Greater Manchester eyes millions in extra lockdown funding as talks continue

Elias Hubbard
October 19, 2020

Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham has called on Westminster's political leaders to help in "breaking the impasse" over the coronavirus restrictions by holding a Commons vote to secure greater support for the hardest-hit areas.

Amid continued clashes with the Government, Mr Burnham called for MPs to help workers and businesses hit with the harshest restrictions by having an urgent debate this week, warning that "this is not just a Greater Manchester issue".

"Of course, if agreement can not be reached, I will need to intervene in order to protect Manchester's hospitals and save the lives of Manchester's residents".

"I want them to put aside, for a moment, some of the political positioning that they've indulged in".

The Labour mayor was said to have had a "constructive" conversation with the Prime Minister's chief strategic adviser, Sir Edward Lister, over the weekend and further talks have been scheduled for Monday.

I think the problem now is, to a large degree, the Chancellor.

"I think it was an exaggeration of the position that we're in. It's about people's lives, businesses and homes, Andrew". Gove called for Burnham to accept the measures "to save people's lives".

Mr Burnham will be under renewed pressure to accept a lockdown after the Guardian reported a leaked NHS document revealed Greater Manchester is set to run out of beds to treat those seriously ill with Covid-19 and that some of the region's 12 hospitals are already full.

"Of course it's a matter of concern, and we watch the figures very closely indeed, but the figures have been falling in Manchester itself in the last few days, across Greater Manchester up slightly but certainly not doubling every nine days".

Earlier in the day, Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove heightened tensions when he accused Mr Burnham of having engaged in political "posturing" and called for him to accept the measures "to save people's lives".

"Therefore it's everyone's concern that we protect the lowest-paid in our communities and the self-employed who are left with nothing on the government's current deal".

The letter ends by urging the region to work with the Government to get the virus under control in Greater Manchester, so "we can all avoid the pain of another national lockdown".

"I'd much rather not impose things, I'd much rather that we were able to work out something together with local authorities, with the mayor in Manchester", he explained.

Meanwhile, Sage expert Professor Jeremy Farrar has said that it is "not too late" to impose a national circuit breaker lockdown and that ministers should impose it "now", despite Mr Gove ruling out the move.

"But it is up to local leaders to show the kind of leadership that we have seen in Liverpool, in Lancashire and in London".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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