Dan Peters 16 June 2020

Councils call for clarity on local lockdowns

Councils this week called for clarity on the legal powers they will have if they are forced to implement local coronavirus lockdowns.

A number of local authorities have called for specific powers to help them protect their communities.

Local areas have also pushed hard to receive vital person-level testing data to allow them to identify hotspots as part of a potential second peak.

Chair of Hackney LBC’s health scrutiny commission, Ben Hayhurst, said: ‘The most we can do at the moment is to offer guidance.

'If the Government wants us to be able to shut down local outbreaks they need to give us greater powers.

‘We also need more contact tracing data so we can support people through the isolation process.’

But giving evidence to the Housing, Communities and Local Government (HCLG) Committee, Greg Fell, a member of the Association of Directors of Public Health board, said he was ‘not terribly hopeful’ detailed testing data would reach his colleagues.

There does not appear to be much appetite in Whitehall to give local authorities any new powers, with key figures suggesting that the role of councils will mostly be focused on engaging their communities.

It has yet to be decided whether decisions on local lockdowns will be made locally or imposed by Whitehall.

Public Health England has suggested that most actions needed to tackle individual local outbreaks will be taken through ‘existing local mechanisms, and largely by agreement and consent’.

There is an ongoing debate among ministers about what a local lockdown would involve and whether councils would be handed any enforcement powers.

Also giving evidence to the HCLG Committee, chief executive of Leeds City Council, Tom Riordan, who has been brought in to advise the Government on test and trace, pointed out councils already had some intervention powers.

He said: ‘The default always is to deal with things without having to force people.

'I think as we move into the phase maybe later in the summer and particularly looking to winter we do need to think about whether that balance of powers is right and whether people have the basket of measures that they need to deal with more of a community spread of the virus and that’s something that’s being actively looked at at the moment with ministers.

'There’s active conversations happening.

'I’m having those conversations with local government colleagues about what might be needed.’

Councils are currently developing local outbreak plans ahead of the end of June deadline, but a lack of national guidance is understood to be causing some frustration.

Local government minister Simon Clarke said: ‘All upper-tier local authorities have been asked to develop local outbreak control plans based on the existing statutory responsibilities of their directors of public health.

'The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, alongside other relevant departments, is considering whether further powers are required for local authorities to manage future outbreaks in line with these plans.’

Skate parks are not the only fruit image

Skate parks are not the only fruit

On Go Skateboarding Day, Susannah Walker asks councils and their leisure and park departments to think differently about what facilities they provide for teenagers.
SIGN UP
For your free daily news bulletin
Highways jobs

Travel Information Data Technician

Essex County Council
Up to £25581 per annum
This is an exciting opportunity to work across all aspects of the Integrated Passenger Transport Unit (IPTU). Working with a passionate and dedicated England, Essex, Chelmsford
Recuriter: Essex County Council

Planning Strategy & Implementation Manager

Essex County Council
£57621 - £61410 per annum
Planning Strategy & Implementation Manager Permanent, Full Time £57,621 to £61,410 per annum Location
Recuriter: Essex County Council

Senior Accountant

Telford & Wrekin Council
£39,571 - £42,614
Are you a qualified Accountant looking to take the next step in your career? Telford, Shropshire
Recuriter: Telford & Wrekin Council

Family Assessment Worker

Telford & Wrekin Council
£25,419 to £27,514
We have a great opportunity for a full time Family Assessment Worker in the Parenting Assessment Team. Telford, Shropshire
Recuriter: Telford & Wrekin Council

Neighbourhood Enforcement Officer

Telford & Wrekin Council
£23,023 - £24,920
The post holder will tackle environmental crimes and unlawful parking. Telford, Shropshire
Recuriter: Telford & Wrekin Council

Partner Content

Circular highways is a necessity not an aspiration – and it’s within our grasp

Shell is helping power the journey towards a circular paving industry with Shell Bitumen LT R, a new product for roads that uses plastics destined for landfill as part of the additives to make the bitumen.

Support from Effective Energy Group for Local Authorities to Deliver £430m Sustainable Warmth Funded Energy Efficiency Projects

Effective Energy Group is now offering its support to the 40 Local Authorities who have received a share of the £430m to deliver their projects on the ground by surveying properties and installing measures.

Pay.UK – the next step in Bacs’ evolution

Dougie Belmore explains how one of the main interfaces between you and Bacs is about to change.