Rossendale Free Press
Appeal for revival of lockdown spirit
APLEA has been made to the Valley public to revisit the spirit of last March after the country was plunged into a third national lockdown.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the drastic measures on Monday evening, to last until at least February 15, in the face of surging Covid cases, and fears of hospitals becoming overwhelmed.
Colleges, primary and secondary schools will remain open only for vulnerable children and the children of critical workers. All other children will learn remotely until February half term. Early Years settings remain open.
National and local political leaders have called for one final effort from the public as the stay at home to save lives messages is reinforced.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said the new lockdown needed to replicate the “spirit of March”.
Rossendale council leader Coun Alyson Barnes said: “I think the national lockdown was necessary and should have come sooner.
“The decision around schools should have come sooner too - dropping this on parents with little or no notice demonstrates just how out of touch the decision makers are.
“It is vitally important that we all adhere to the rules.
“I understand how difficult it is, but I urge people to follow them in order to keep themselves and their families safe but also to help the NHS.
“Our National Health Service is in real danger of being overwhelmed and we must do all we can to alleviate that pressure.
“The vast majority of people do follow the rules and the residents of Rossendale have been tremendous in their efforts so far, please let’s continue in this vein for a while longer.
“The council will continue to work hard to support our residents and businesses as much as we possibly can.
“But I’d also like to stress that the Government must play their part too and continue to support our businesses with adequate and timely funding to ensure they can weather the ongoing crisis.”
Community First Coun Alan Neal was also scathing of the 11th hour announcement of schools closures, and said the Prime Minister had once again failed to comprehend the seriousness of the predicament.
He said: “My question is - given every school across the whole of the UK were asking for this to happen well before Christmas - what on earth are every parent, not to mention all the schools, supposed to do at 8pm on a Monday evening?”
The very latest data shows infection rates have spiked in Rossendale by two-thirds in the last week to more than 250. While of the 844 ambulance arrivals in the week to December 27 at East Lancashire Hospitals Trust, which operates Royal Blackburn Hospital, there were 92 that saw handover delays of between 30 and 60 minutes.
Rossendale and Darwen MP Jake Berry said: “While the lockdown is necessary it needs to be time-limited with a clear plan for getting people vaccinated.”
Haslingden MP Sara Britcliffe added: “I know how difficult this new national lockdown is for residents and businesses. This is not a decision which has been taken lightly but it is necessary. With vaccines now being rolled out, there is real light at the end of the tunnel.”
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has confirmed students in England ‘will not be asked’ to sit GCSE and A-level exams this summer.
Mr Williamson released a statement ahead of a speech in the House of Commons on Wednesday.
He said: “The Government position is that we will not be asking students to sit GCSE and A Levels. It’s likely that, as was the case last year, teacherassessed grades will be assigned. It follows a fiasco which saw the government U-turn on its initial algorithm to award results after the system was branded “unfair”.