Government threatens to over-rule local authorities by imposing lockdowns
Iran Press TV
Saturday, 18 July 2020 5:53 PM
There is growing confusion and concern over the government's threat to over-rule local authorities by imposing local lockdowns in England the event of sharp rises in coronavirus infections.
Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, appeared to half-heartedly devolve some power to local authorities by claiming that new powers would "enable local authorities to act more quickly in response to outbreaks where speed is paramount".
But Johnson also added in a tweet that: "Where justified by evidence, ministers will be able to close whole sectors or types of premises in an area, introduce local stay at home orders, prevent people entering or leaving defined areas, reduce maximum gathering size, or restrict transport systems serving local areas".
The confusion over potentially overlapping or conflicting powers was exacerbated by transport secretary, Grant Shapps, who earlier today claimed that central government reserves the right to over-rule local authorities.
Speaking to Sky News, Shapps said: "They [local councils] will have the powers and they will be able to act immediately, wherever that's required… but the powers will be there, which is a change in order to make these things happen faster and be more responsive to the position on the ground".
But Shapps was careful to add: "Ultimately, government has ultimate power and control".
The confusion over lockdown powers – and the government's threat to use these powers arbitrarily – comes on the heels of localized rises of Covid-19 infections in several parts of England.
The latest places to come under scrutiny are Wakefield in West Yorkshire and Burton in Staffordshire.
Previously the government came under sharp criticism after it imposed a lockdown on the City of Leicester with little advance notice.
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