The Mayor

Andy Burnham calls on Government to give urgent support to English regions to implement new guidance

  • Government must provide extra funding for public transport to support the need to run additional tram and bus services due to capacity limitations
  • Introduction of mass testing and contact tracing must be prioritised in areas like the North West where case numbers are highest
  • Representation for the English regions on COBRA now essential

MAYOR of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, has called for more support from the Government for cities outside London to deal with the implications of the Prime Minister’s statement on easing lockdown restrictions, specifically:

Public transport

Already, more people are using public transport as a result of the changes announced on Sunday night. But no extra funding has been provided to run the extra services needed to enable people to follow social distancing requirements.

To date, the Government has agreed to cover 73 per cent of Greater Manchester tram network Metrolink’s current monthly costs on a service operating at 20-minute intervals with much-reduced capacity. Changes in Government guidance are expected to bring more passengers back to system but there is no funding to provide the extra capacity needed.

Mass testing and contact tracing

The Mayor believes that the areas of the country with the highest number of cases, like the North West, are at greatest risk from the easing of restrictions and should therefore be prioritised for the introduction of mass testing and contact tracing.

A voice for the English regions on COBRA

The changes announced on Sunday evening have major implications for Greater Manchester but the city-region, like others outside of London, had no formal input into the decision-making process or ability to plan for them. London is the only English city formally represented on COBRA.

Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, said: “The North West is already seeing the highest number of COVID-19 cases and I am concerned that the Prime Minister’s announcement has exposed us to even greater levels of risk. If we are to be able to manage those risks safely, it is essential that the North West is prioritised for higher levels of support from the Government.

“Without funding for extra transport services, people will struggle to observe safe distancing on buses and trams as they return to to work. It is therefore vital that we get support to run extra services to keep people safe as they travel to and from work. We also need to be prioritised for the introduction of mass testing and contact tracing so that we can maintain high levels of vigilance about the spread of the virus.

“The changes announced on Sunday night have major implications for our city-region but we had minimal advance knowledge and barely any ability to plan for them. Furthermore, I am not satisfied that the risks to the health of people here in the North West were fully considered before these changes were made. If we are to maintain a sense of national unity going forward, it is essential that the English regions are now given much more involvement in the decision-making processes.”

Article Published: 11/05/2020 19:06 PM