North East leaders urge region to follow Covid lockdown rules in call for more local powers

North East leaders say the region is in a strong position to crush Covid case numbers ahead of a national lockdown as they continue to fight for more local control.

The month-long restrictions start across England from Thursday, November 5, with non-essential businesses to close, except for collections and deliveries.

Leaders of seven councils – Sunderland, South Tyneside, County Durham, Northumberland, Newcastle, Gateshead and North Tyneside – have today, Monday, November 2, issued a statement supporting the move.

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The statement is signed by council leaders and councillors Iain Malcolm of South Tyneside Council, Glen Sanderson, of Northumberland County Council, Simon Henig, of Durham County Council and Graeme Miller, of Sunderland City Council, alongside Martin Gannon, of Gateshead Council, Nick Forbes, of Newcastle City Council, Norma Redfearn CBE, elected mayor of North Tyneside Council, Jamie Driscoll, North of Tyne Mayor and Kim McGuinness, Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner.

They say regional restrictions have already started to see results, with graphs in Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s briefing from Saturday, October 31 showing figures had begun to fall in the North East.

They say they still want more power over measures, including a locally-led Test, Trace and Isolate system guided by their own public health experts.

A Covid hub, run with the NHS, is set to launch to support testing across the region and beyond, and they want to use central resources more effectively, helping to quickly roll out any vaccination when it arrives.

More information is being sought on support for those shielding.

The statement, also signed by Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Kim McGuinness and elected mayors, said: “The graphs presented at the Prime Minister’s press conference highlighted the North East as the only region where infections rates had slowed.

“This is thanks to the support we have received from the overwhelming majority of people adhering to the rules since we introduced restrictions ahead of the tiered system.

“It means we enter the new lockdown in a better position than most and we will seek to work with the Government to use this time effectively to plan a way out of the restrictions and to build on the relative success we have achieved so far.”

The councils welcomed the extension to the furlough scheme and mortgage holidays, business support grants and the promise of funding to help businesses.

The statement added they want to work with the Government to build on lessons learned and “get into a position where we can relax the restrictions as quickly as possible.”

It adds: “We urge everyone to adopt the new rules and guidance now and not wait until Thursday.

"Continue to protect yourselves, your family, friends and community and help our great region get the virus under control.

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