'Let’s all work together as never before to drag Harborough out of Covid-19’s Tier 3 before Christmas' - message from council leader
“Robert Jenrick assured us that Prime Minister Boris Johnson is very serious about carrying out a meaningful review of districts such as Harborough on December 16,” insisted Cllr King
The inspired leader of Harborough council is exhorting everyone across the district – let’s all work together as never before to drag us out of Covid-19’s Tier 3 before Christmas.
Cllr Phil King issued his rallying coronavirus warcry as the rate of infection across Harborough continues to fall.
And the Conservative council chief is calling on people to drive Harborough back into the less hardline Tier 2 or even Tier 1 when the current Tiers are reviewed by the Government on Wednesday December 16.
“This is absolutely crucial.
“It’s never been more vital that we all pull together right across Harborough, from Scraptoft to Lutterworth to Great Easton, to beat this virus,” said Cllr King.
“The good news is that the rate is starting to fall.
“But we really do all have to line up on the same side now to fight to yank us out of Tier 3 in time for Christmas and the New Year.”
The upbeat council leader said he’s been fully briefed on the fast-moving Covid situation by local government secretary Robert Jenrick.
“I had the opportunity to ask the minister questions about where we go from here alongside other Conservative council leaders.
“Robert Jenrick assured us that Prime Minister Boris Johnson is very serious about carrying out a meaningful review of districts such as Harborough on December 16,” insisted Cllr King.
“This isn’t just going to be a routine run of the mill box-ticking exercise – as some of us feared that it might be.
“How we do and how we perform right across Harborough between now and Wednesday December 16 will be looked at, scrutinised and taken very seriously.
“So I’d call on every man and woman in our district – let’s all work together, night and day, to drag us out of Tier 3.
“None of us wants to be in Tier 3.
“It’s tough on hospitality – critical outlets such as pubs, cafes and restaurants are all hurting and suffering.
“We have to do our utmost to help and support the people who run them and work in them.
“And we also want people to have the chance to be able to go back into them in the run-up to Christmas and the New Year,” declared Cllr King.
“My big message to the people of Harborough is this - we do have huge hope.
“We all have a real goal that we can all aim for – Tier 2 or even Tier 1 in the next few weeks.
“We can all look forward to a much brighter future – there are reasons to be positive.
“New vaccines are set to be rolled out imminently, non-essential shops are going to re-open along with our leisure centres.
“And the Government has shown that it will decouple us from nearby areas such as Leicester which have been hit much harder by the coronavirus.”
He said the latest hard figures for Harborough show that the rate of infection was 240.9 per 100,000 people in the week leading up to Tuesday November 24.
“That’s plunged from a peak of 335.8 on Friday November 13.
“The rate in Market Harborough itself is low, down to about 123, well below the national average for England,” revealed Cllr King.
“But we do have hotspots such as Scraptoft, where it was a very high 477.1, Broughton Astley, Lutterworth and Dunton Bassett.
“So I would appeal to people living in those areas especially to knuckle down and do all they can to force this virus back.
“The vast majority of people in Harborough are observing the cardinal rules – hands, face and space.
“Wash your hands regularly, keep your distance, wear a face covering.
“But some people are still doing silly things and ignoring the guidance.
“Such as going out to meet their mates and not getting tested when they’ve got all the symptoms.
“I’m not interested in playing the blame game,” said Cllr King.
“But we can take control of this.
“Beating Covid-19 once and for all is in our own hands – literally.
“So let’s jump out of Tier 3 and look forward to a much brighter, much better 2021.”
But he did warn that people in Harborough face paying more Council Tax in 2021-22 after lost income and rocketing amid the pandemic has hit an incredible £3.213 million.
“The Government has given us £1.43 million support.
“That leaves us with a gaping £1.87 million Covid impact until the end of September – and it’s got worse since then,” said Cllr King .
“So we carrying out a comprehensive review right across the board at the moment to see how we go forward.
“We can obviously use our cash reserves to help plug the gap.
“But to be honest I cannot see how we will not be paying more Council Tax in 2021-22 to help pay for the money we have spent and lost out on.”
Asked about the district’s immediate future, Harborough MP Neil O’Brien told the Mail: “I am cautiously positive.
“Harborough has been above the national average on all the key indicators such as rate of infection, numbers for the over-60s and hospital capacity.
“But if we all work together then I’m sure that we will be able to climb out of Tier 3 in the not too distant future.”