Companies are facing ruin, thousands of jobs are at risk and people’s mental and physical health will suffer if measures to combat the rapid spread of the corona virus in our urban region are tightened.
Liverpool today stands on the brink of some of the most fundamental changes in our way of life since the Second World War.
Comprehensive changes that could take months to implement have apparently been prepared without meaningful input from those who will affect them most.
Our council leaders, from Mayor Anderson to David Baines in St. Helens and Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram, have described a frustrating process of communication – or lack of it – with the central government.
And at this stage, many comparisons will be made with this difficult decade, not only in terms of the likely economic damage that lies ahead, but also in terms of the government’s obvious attitude toward our city and the surrounding region.
Mayor Joe Anderson has warned that the new restrictions, which will include the closure of pubs, gyms and betting shops, could take our city back to the dark days of unemployment in the 1980s and speak at the highest levels of government of a “controlled decline” for our city.
Anonymous briefings for national newspapers have replaced proper communication with our elected officials – even less with the public.
It seems that there has been consultation only by name, with frustratingly little clarity even for those who have to implement the rules – and who are given the responsibility of picking up the pieces when they are ineffective.
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Worst of all, there was no clarity about what we can expect and no clear explanation of what the individual measures will achieve.
Comprehensive changes, which could take months, were apparently drafted without meaningful input from those who affect them most – and with too little financial support to mitigate their impact on jobs and prosperity.
This is no way to manage a pandemic.
No one can reasonably question the threat to public health posed by the coronavirus. Many people have already lost their lives and our NHS is already facing similar challenges to those at the start of the pandemic.
This approach mocks the ideas of previous Tory governments of a “Northern Powerhouse”, and even this government’s talk of a “levelling down” of the North.
Perhaps this afternoon Boris Johnson will address these concerns and offer the reassurance and financial support that businesses so desperately need.
Urgent action is needed – but not without measures to prevent a crisis of employment and prosperity in addition to the undoubted health emergency that our urban region is facing.
The fact that few people in our region expect this to be the case shows how far away this government is from reality on the ground for many of them – and how difficult the coming weeks and months will be for our urban region.