Midday deadline for Greater Manchester to make Tier 3 lockdown deal

Politics

The government has given Greater Manchester until midday tomorrow to reach an agreement on entering Tier 3 restrictions.

Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said 10 days of discussions in “good faith” have not resulted in an agreement – and he warned that the prime minister would have to intervene if no deal is made by the deadline.

Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham and other local leaders have been demanding further economic support for businesses that would be affected by the region entering the highest level of COVID-19 measures.

And, in an increasingly bitter political row, further talks on Monday failed to end in an accord.

Setting the Tuesday deadline for an agreement, Mr Jenrick said late on Monday night: “The public health situation in Greater Manchester continues to deteriorate.

“We’ve now had 10 days of discussions, in good faith, with local leaders in Greater Manchester. We’ve not so far been able to reach an agreement.

“We’ve offered a comprehensive package of support, in addition to the national measures that have been set out by the chancellor.

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“I’ve written this evening to the mayor of Greater Manchester and to local leaders in the city region to say that, if we’re not able to reach an agreement by noon tomorrow, then – with deep regret – I’ll have to advise the prime minister that we’re not able to reach an agreement at this time.”

Asked whether the continued absence of an agreement by the deadline would then result in the government unilaterally imposing Tier 3 restrictions on Greater Manchester, Mr Jenrick replied: “That’s a matter for the prime minister to decide.”

The cabinet minister said the government had offered a financial package “proportionate” to the support provided to Lancashire and the Liverpool City Region, which were the first two parts of England to enter Tier 3 restrictions.

“Local leaders have not, so far, been willing to take us up on those proposals,” he added.

Earlier on Monday evening, Mr Burnham said: “We went into today’s meeting with the government with a positive and unanimous view amongst Greater Manchester leaders that we should seek a resolution as soon as possible.

“We had been encouraged by earlier discussions at an official level where the idea of a Hardship Fund, to top up furlough payments and support the self-employed, had been tabled by the government.

“It was both surprising and disappointing when this idea was taken off the table by the secretary of state.”

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