Peer mocks London ‘bias’ and reveals the ‘only way’ Sheffield could be put in Tier 2

A Sheffield peer has spoken out angrily about South Yorkshire being placed in Tier 3 lockdown while London is spared the toughest restrictions.

Friday, 27th November 2020, 10:28 am

Paul Scriven tweeted: “I've decided the only way Sheffield is going to be put into Tier 2 is to convince Johnson and Hancock we are an outer borough of London!”

His was not the only dissenting voice after it was revealed yesterday that London, where several boroughs have higher Covid-19 infection rates than Sheffield and in many areas cases are rising rather than falling, would be subject to Tier 2 restrictions from December 2.

Sign up to our public interest bulletins - get the latest news on the Coronavirus

Sign up to our public interest bulletins - get the latest news on the Coronavirus

Shoppers wearing a face masks in Sheffield city centre, as South Yorkshire is the latest region to be placed into Tier 3 coronavirus restrictions

There were 223.6 new cases of coronavirus confirmed per 100,000 people in Sheffield during the week ending November 22 – the latest date for which reliable figures are available – which is down from 285.4 during the previous seven days.

That’s less than in the London boroughs of Havering (337.5), Redbridge (306.3), Barking and Dagenham (261.6) and Bexley (227.2), though it is higher than the London-wide rate of 174.2.

However, while infection rates have been falling in Sheffield, Barnsley, Doncaster and Rotherham, that is not the case in much of London.

Sheffield peer Paul Scriven has questioned the decision-making process behind the tiered lockdown system

The Government’s own rationale for the tiering decisions acknowledged that 13 of the 33 London boroughs had case rates which were 10 per cent or more higher than a week ago and hospital admissions were continuing to increase, though they remained below the spring peak.

But it concluded: “Taken as a whole, the situation in London has stabilised at a similar case rate and positivity to other parts of the country in Tier 2.”

The Government’s rationale for South Yorkshire states that case rates are falling but remain ‘very high’, with 223 cases per 100,000 people in the more vulnerable over-60 category, and there is ‘pressure’ on the NHS in the area.

The latest hospital figures, meanwhile, show the number of Covid-19 patients is falling in the North East & Yorkshire but rising in London, though numbers in the capital remain lower.

Downing Street has denied that economic factors played a part in the decision-making process, insisting London did not receive a special exemption from the toughest restrictions.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman told a Westminster briefing: “We have been clear on the criteria that we have based the tiering system on and you have got the WMS (written ministerial statement) that explains the rationale for each area.”

But not everyone is convinced, with the leader of Hartlepool Council, where the infection rate is considerably higher than in Sheffield, branding the system a farce.

Shane Moore tweeted: “Dear @MattHancock, please can you explain why these London Boroughs have been spared T3 restrictions? Once again London getting preferential treatment while the North is punished. Maybe test equally in London too & you’ll get a real picture. #tiersystem #farce”.

In a further tweet, he added: “Let’s look at the Tees Valley vs London 7-day positivity rate to 22nd November too.

“Virus is just as prevalent in London as up here, only difference is we are testing and identifying it.”

Sheffield Council leader Julie Dore was not so outspoken, but she reiterated her concerns about the localised lockdown system, saying ‘we are all incredibly frustrated by the way that this continues to be handled by the government’.