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Updated: ‘Please Don’t Have Pre-lockdown Parties’ Says Council Leader Bigmore

Published on: 31 Oct, 2020
Updated on: 2 Nov, 2020

Cllr Josh Bigmore

By Martin Giles

Guildford’s council leader has warned that non-compliance with new lockdown rules risks extending the length of the pandemic.

Guildford’s MP, Angela Richardson later emphasised that the decision had not been taken lightly and there was no need for panic buying. She also reminded people of the continued importance of seeking non-Covid medical treatment. (See her full statement below.)

Speaking shortly after the prime minister’s announcement of a new pandemic lockdown, to commence on Thursday (November 5), Cllr Joss Bigmore (R4GV, Christchurch) said: “Please don’t use these next four days as a pre-lockdown party.”

But he reassured residents that the council still has the structures in place to carry out their supporting role and offered the hope that four weeks of lockdown could allow a “more normal Christmas”.

He said: “This decision from Westminster has come as a surprise. But it is clear from the statistics that we are yet again facing the very real prospect of overwhelming the NHS this winter unless these actions are taken. Guildford, although seeing lower infection rates than other parts of the country, is experiencing significant growth in those rates and it’s my strong belief that our borough would have anyway been moved to a higher level of restrictions either this week or next.

Boris Johnson announcing the new lockdown

“Whether or not you agree with this decision this is a time to come together as a borough, a country, if not a world. We face this threat together, and together we will beat it, but if we have pockets of people ignoring the rules it will cost all of us by extending the time we face these restrictions.

“The borough council has kept all the structures in place that served residents so well in the first lockdown, we are extremely well prepared to look after those that need it this time round. Our community has shown its strength time and time again this year and I have no doubt we will rise to this latest challenge.

“If I can offer a little hope, four weeks of sacrifice could mean a more normal Christmas, it means our children can go to their schools and universities, and it means our loved ones can access the NHS for everything they need it for.

“There is no need to panic, the risk to your health is barely different to what it was yesterday, the experience of the early summer shows there is plenty of food and toilet roll for us all. The first lockdown rules were harsher than this one and we have that experience to take confidence from.

“Please don’t use these next four days as a pre-lockdown party, be kind, phone your neighbours, support local business where you can, many use e-commerce and our restaurants which have developed takeaway or delivery service.

“Your council is here for you, this is not a time to be worried or proud about asking for help, you are never alone in Guildford borough.”

In the seven days till yesterday (October 29), the number in the borough testing positive for coronavirus jumped 25%, compared with the week before.

There were 187 cases, nine higher than in the Borough of Elmbridge, which had been placed in Tier Two for two weeks, and where the number of cases dropped 15% in the past week.

Guildford infections to week ending October 26.

See also: Regional Covid Hospital Admissions and Surrey Deaths Jump Sharply

Guildford’s seven-day infection rate of 136 per 100,000 population had risen to a higher level than some parts of Tier Two London, for example Sutton where the rate is 125.

Angela Richardson MP

Guildford’s MP Angela Richardson added her comment this morning (November 1): “The new decision to implement nationwide measures to control the virus has not been taken lightly.

“Whilst relative to other parts of the country case numbers are lower in Surrey generally, they were rising and Guildford in particular was seeing a rise in age groups of concern that would see, if left unchecked, our hospital capacity stretched, if not exceeded, in a very short period of time.

“One of the most important messages of the press conference by the Prime Minister yesterday was how we would exit the lockdown period.  Which Tier we go back into locally will be influenced by how careful we are over the next several days.  I would encourage everyone to exercise restraint.  We witnessed scenes of street parties in other parts of the country that had potential significant consequences to public health there.

“Supermarkets will remain open and the food supply chains are robust.  There is no need to shop to excess or panic buy.  We should always be mindful of the needs of others, never more so than now.

“The success of our local small businesses and our vibrant high street is very important to me.  The Chancellor of the Exchequer immediately announced an extension to the furlough scheme and other financial support measures have been published on the site

“Also of great concern to me is the mental health and wellbeing of everyone being asked to stay at home as well.  It is vital that should we need help, we can reach out for it.  The NHS remains open for non-covid-19 health needs.  Please do not put off seeking medical treatment.  It’s also important to note that help should always be sought in situation of domestic abuse and violence.

“We are being asked once again to make significant personal sacrifices in order to save the lives of others.  My thanks to the people of Guildford for their contribution to the national effort.”

Cllr Paul Spooner

Paul Spooner, leader of the Conservative ‘independent’ group at GBC, said: “Whilst I understand the decision to bring in national restrictions, I welcome the plan to keep schools, colleges and universities open over the next few weeks and I personally believe that it is important to allow for some form of socially distanced exercise and recreation for all of our mental health and wellbeing.

“I believe that we were very likely, in any event, to move to a higher tier within Guildford within days given the sharp rise in positive cases, and I hope that this latest effort to control this pandemic will ensure that those needing urgent medical care, for whatever reason, will get the attention and treatment necessary to provide the best possible outcome.

“I echo the words of the council leader in asking everyone to take care and not to abuse the next few days prior to Thursday and think of others when you shop for groceries.”

Anne Milton

Guildford’s former MP, Anne Milton, expressed sympathy and concern for local businesses.

She said: “I know what a tough time this is for all the independent businesses that have just got themselves back on their feet after the previous lockdown, the small businesses, the hairdressers, the self-employed and many more for whom this will be such a challenge financially.

“I know most people will act in a sensible and considerate manner and everyone will do what they can to offer help and a listening ear to those who are vulnerable, alone or struggling.

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Responses to Updated: ‘Please Don’t Have Pre-lockdown Parties’ Says Council Leader Bigmore

  1. Jules Cranwell Reply

    November 1, 2020 at 7:38 am

    Very sound advice from Joss. We’ll all come out of this better, provided all obey the rules, and don’t behave irresponsibly.

  2. Fiona Yeomans Reply

    November 3, 2020 at 10:51 am

    How many of the new Guildford cases are on campus at Surrey University as opposed to in the local community?

    Editor’s response: The published University of Surrey figures show a slightly lower rate of infection among their students compared with the figure for the area they are in.

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