Reacting to Matt Hancock’s announcement in the Commons that parts of Leicester will see the lockdown eased, Sir Peter Salisbury told Sky News: “I’m angry, frustrated, very disappointed, but frankly not surprised.”
He alleges that the health secretary’s decision to ease restrictions across Leicestershire, save for within Leicester city boundaries and the Oadby and Wigston distruct, is at odds with the reality of where the virus is most prevalent – and accuses the government of doing so with political motivations.
“What does surprise me about it is rather than doing what we wanted, which was to be able to focus on those areas of the city – that now, at last, we’ve got the data – where we know there is a preponderance of the virus, they have actually chosen instead to choose the administrative boundary of the city and to release from the lockdown all of the Tory-voting areas around the city, and frankly that just looks nasty and party-political.”
Asked if he accepted there were still concerns given the infection rate remains above the national average, Sir Peter replied that while it was above the national average, this was only in around 10 per cent of the city – which he’d gleaned from “the data we’ve been asking for for weeks”.
“What [Mr Hancock] has chosen to do, is release from the lockdown the areas in the county where a lot more Tories voters [are], and to keep locked down many parts of the city that have no greater prevalence of the virus than those that he has released,” he alleged.
“It was a party-political decision to bring us into lockdown in the first place. It’s clearly a party-political decision to keep us in lockdown, and frankly it has very little to do with focusing, as we ought to be, on where that virus really is.
Asked about Matt Hancock’s claims that he rejected the chance to consider the plans, he says: “Well of course. I have said to them that we all ought to be focusing on these parts of the city where the virus is. He’s not prepared to do that.
“It’s not a question of me not being prepared to consider it, that’s exactly what I would ask him to do and what he has so far refused to do. What he has done is release the Tory voters, and to leave Labour and Liberal Democrat voters locked in.”