THERE HAS BEEN A DEVELOPMENT IN THIS STORY. THE INFORMATION ON THE GOVERNMENT WEBSITE WAS WRONG. FOR AN UPDATE GO HERE:
Leader of LB Hounslow Steve Curran says the Government “risks lives” by not communicating with local authorities.
LB Hounslow, along with other areas where the Indian variant of Covid has been detected in the population, only found out by coming across it on the Government website that it was advising people not to go to LB Hounslow, or to travel out of it if you are a resident.
The information was changed on the Government website on Friday 21 May but there was no ministerial statement, no press conference and apparently no consultation or conversation with any of the local authorities which the Government is now advising people not to go to.
“It is unbelievable that new guidance came to light only by checking the Government website” Cllr Curran told The Chiswick Calendar.
“Hounslow Council was not informed that we were subject to surge testing and vaccination in advance of the Secretary of State for Health Matt Hancock’s announcement in the House of Commons last Wednesday.
“Ministers have been saying that we were informed prior to the changes. This is simply not true. Unfortunately, history is now repeating itself and again, we were not informed in advance of changes to the Government’s travel guidance for Hounslow.
“To date I have received no communication at all from the Government. This is another example of the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing. It’s shambolic”.
The advice not to travel to ‘affected areas’ – listed as Bolton, Blackburn, Kirklees, Bedford, Burnley, Leicester, Hounslow and North Tyneside. – was only noticed by a journalist at the BBC, who published a story late on Monday night.
When The Chiswick Calendar told Hounslow’s Leader about it and asked whether he’d had prior knowledge, or found out about it from the website like the rest of us, he said they’d been told “absolutely nothing”.
“To try and limit travel within its borders is not only impossible, it’s a ridiculous idea”
“This Government needs to step up and start communicating with councils properly” said Steve.
“It needs to inform us directly of decisions and give us time to put measures in place to inform, protect and support our communities. Anything short of that risks lives.
“We need clear, joined-up thinking and communication between Central Government, the NHS, Public Health England and local authorities. The current communication from Government on our national COVID response is woefully lacking.
“Thankfully, through the great work of the Council with NHS colleagues, we have mobilised and stepped up for our communities, rolling out extra testing and vaccination sites, and we are seeing a strong community response to that.
“For one of London’s most connected boroughs – with Heathrow on its doorstep, the M4 and A4 running through it, the Piccadilly Line, the main line from Waterloo, plus the North Circular via Kew Bridge – to try and limit travel within its borders is not only impossible, it’s a ridiculous idea.”
Ruth Cadbury, MP for Brentford and Isleworth, echoed Steve Curran’s remarks.
‘Hahaha Keep out of @LBofHounslow area?!’ she Tweeted. ‘Does anyone in @DHSCgovuk realise the Picadilly line & A4 through the borough are main routes between Heathrow and Central London? Was there any plan to actually discuss this with the Council (or even perhaps look at a map)?’
Josh Blacker, councillor for South Acton, commented:
‘Utterly baffling from Whitehall. Local government working hard to deliver surge testing and support vaccine roll out – and this is how government thank us’.
What about the Premiership final at Wembley on Saturday?
The Brentford Canal Festival has been cancelled after the organisers heard the news and now anxious Brentford FC fans are wondering whether they will be able to go to Wembley on Saturday to watch the final match in their team’s titanic struggle to get into the Premier League.
LB Hounslow is seeking ‘urgent clarification’ or the Government’s advice, as no doubt is Brentford FC. The Government website refers to ‘affected areas’, listing the eight local authority areas without spelling out whether people are to avoind the entire local authority area or just specific places in them.
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