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Northern councils warn of rebellion against government's failure to support workers and businesses

NORTHERN councils have formed a coalition to demand more support in the face of new government restrictions that risk decimating the economy in the north.

Council leaders and businesses in the region warned of a rebellion today over the economic effects of stricter lockdown regulations.

Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham said he would “use whatever means” to challenge the government if it did not improve support for workers and businesses hit by a new lockdown.

A consortium of 11 local authorities have formed a “Convention of the North” calling for talks with the government to devise means of offsetting the effects of new restrictions.

Areas in the north-west, north-east and Yorkshire and the Humber regions are suffering the brunt of an upsurge in coronavirus infections as a second wave of the disease spreads.

Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner, who is MP for Ashton-under-Lyne in Tameside in Greater Manchester, accused Prime Minister Boris Johnson of “treating the north with contempt.”

Yorkshire and the Humber region TUC secretary Bill Adams said that the union federation was “for targeted support along furlough lines for areas with local lockdowns where businesses are forced to close, and an improved Job Support Scheme for businesses that remain open but are affected by low demand.”

The 11 authorities, including Leeds, Sheffield, Greater Manchester and Merseyside, issued a joint statement with business leaders calling for an “urgent dialogue with the government on a joint plan of action.”

A joint statement said: “A new approach on both fronts is now needed, with infection rates having increased, not decreased in 19 of the 20 areas where local lockdowns have been imposed. 

“We support restrictions where these are effective at reducing the spread of the virus, but we want to see these kept to a minimum, both in scope and duration, and we need greater transparency about the evidence on which they are based.

“The unclear and inconsistent rationale underpinning measures like the 10pm curfew is causing widespread confusion, hitting local businesses but also having potentially unintended and harmful health impacts. 

“This risks undermining the concerted national effort that the Prime Minister is calling for.”

Mayors from the north of England issued a joint statement welcoming new measures announced by Rishi Sunak but warned they would not go far enough.

The mayors – Greater Manchester’s Andy Burnham, North Tyne’s Jamie Driscoll, Sheffield City Region’s Dan Jarvis and Liverpool City Region’s Steve Rotheram – said: “We are pleased that the government has listened and recognised that any new system of restrictions must come with a substantial package of financial support.”

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