James Grundy MP: Opposed to another total lockdown

Last week, during a meeting with the Health Minister and all Greater Manchester MPs, I expressed the opposition my constituents have to moving into Tier 3, as over the course of the last week, I have received a number of questions about the proposed restrictions in terms of their effectiveness and scope, as well as the financial support for those affected by them.
James Grundy MPJames Grundy MP
James Grundy MP

The Mayor of Greater Manchester has also expressed similar concerns, but there is a key difference between our shared objection to Tier 3.

The GM Mayor’s preferred alternative to Tier 3 is a complete lockdown of Greater Manchester, as part of a wider so-called ‘circuit breaker’ that will see another full lockdown of the whole country.

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I cannot imagine a more destructive and devastating approach than another total lockdown of our local community.

Shutting down almost all businesses, all schools, and vast sections of our vital public services, as well as confining us all to our homes again would destroy our fragile local economy, and have severe consequences for the physical and mental health of many of my constituents.

If Tier 3 is like extensive surgery, then the total lockdown supported by the Mayor of Greater Manchester would be akin to a beheading for many families and businesses that have yet to fully recover from the first lockdown.

Let me be clear, I am completely opposed to another total lockdown of the area, and many of my constituents have also indicated to me that they too strongly oppose another total lockdown.

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I and my Conservative colleagues from across Greater Manchester had constructive discussions last week with both the Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, and with No 10 in order to find a way forward.

Despite the hardships that many local people have suffered over the last few months, it is important to remember that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

At the time of writing this column (Monday, October 19), it has just been reported in the media that Dr Jonathan Van-Tam, Senior Member of SAGE, has said that a vaccine could be with us as soon as December for NHS staff and the clinically vulnerable, and for general distribution in the New Year.

I’m sure everybody will welcome this development as extremely good news and an indication that there is a path for life to return to normality at long last.

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There has been a great national effort over the course of the last few months, as everyone has pulled together to fight this virus, and even though we are all feeling the tremendous burdens of that effort, this burden has not been born in vain.

Locally, from individuals, to residents’ groups and charities, and indeed entire businesses, we have all pulled together.

I have seen first-hand many of the efforts you have been going to, to keep our local area functioning during this time and to also raise our local spirits.

We have seen local painters repainting the oil storage tanks at Leigh Infirmary to look like the minions from the film Despicable Me, local charities providing a support network to those most vulnerable in our community (such as delivering food parcels, setting up telephone support networks, and delivering prescriptions), as well as entire businesses repurposing their production lines to produce desperately needed medical supplies of various kinds.

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Times are often hard in communities like ours, and recent times have been harder than most, but we have risen to this challenge with an unbreakable spirit and for that we should all be proud.

NORE: James's column was submitted before Greater Manchester was placed into the Tier 3 category.