Kent county councillors call for Covid tier review

Covid tier restrictions

By Local Democracy Reporter Ciaran Duggan

Kent will be placed into the highest tier of Covid rules from Wednesday (December 2) but county council chiefs are calling for a review of the county-wide approach.

Boris Johnson’s Government last week announced all 13 districts will face the same tough restrictions, despite differences in the number of cases recorded in these areas.

Kent County Council (KCC) has sent a letter to Health Secretary Matt Hancock raising concerns about the county-wide approach, suggesting there is a “strong case” to move to a district level.

Conservative county councillors have sided with Tory MP rebels over the restrictions faced by Kent’s 1.8million residents from Wednesday and questioned the “logic” behind the decision.

Earlier today (November 30), KCC leader, Cllr Roger Gough (Con), told his cabinet the pandemic was “more widespread” than a “couple” of Kent districts and said he was worried about the damage to the local economy.

Cllr Gough, who said it was “doubly important” to receive military aid for mass testing, said: “We are not denying that there is quite a widespread problem here. There are trends which are very, very concerning.

“At the same time we have to be very mindful of the impact that these restrictions have on our businesses..”

Swale, Thanet and Medway remain among the highest risk areas in the country, with between 464 and 557 weekly cases per 100,000 people, according to the latest data from Public Health England, although the Swale and Thanet numbers are declining.

However other parts of Kent are at the lower end of the spectrum. Tunbridge Wells recorded around 79 cases per 100,000 people and 116 in Sevenoaks.

Under tier three, pubs, restaurants and hotels and some leisure such as cinemas and soft play centres will remain shut while gyms and retailers open ahead of the busy Christmas period. Restrictions ease on hospitality businesses in tier two.

Despite warnings about “severe pressure” being put on the NHS and seven main hospitals in the county, several Kent MPs and a number of councillors have called for a district by district basis for the tier system.

KCC education chief, Cllr Richard Long (Con), said: “The fact is there is consternation in some districts, where the rates are low and falling, that they have been put into tier three with the rest.

“The impression is that Kent is simply being treated as a single area without thought for its size and its diversity.

“The population of Kent and Medway is the same as all six historic counties of Northern Ireland and two-thirds of the population of Wales.”

KCC cabinet member Cllr Mike Hill (Con) described the constant rule changes as “confusing” while his counterpart, Cllr Mike Whiting (Con) said the hospitality sector has been “badly hit” throughout the pandemic.

On Friday, calls were made by KCC’s Labour Group to hold an extraordinary scrutiny committee meeting to debate the new limitations, citing the worrying impact on the local economy.


  1. Your map of the virus in Kent, shows the highest figures all along the southern Thames estuary. Coupled with Medway and Gravesham, is there a pattern there?

    • As far as I can tell, most of the less infectious parts of North and East Kent tend to be also less populous, consisting largely of rural woodland and farms.

  2. Maidstone has now joined Thanet, Swale and Medway in the top twenty highest infected areas in England. West Kent districts have increasing levels of infection. Remember when a west Kent Councillor referred to Thanet as the a**ehole of Kent in a full KCC meeting?

  3. You really can’t have it both ways. If you open up the hospitality sector, then you create just the conditions to facilitate the spread of CV. If you want to squash infection rates, then social mixing has to stop.
    There really is no point in imposing tier three here, and tier 1 just a mile away, because people will simply travel from the t3 area to the t1 area, bringing CV with them, and turning the t1 into a t3 within a fortnight.
    I wish some politicians would realise that we’re all facing a lethal pandemic. This extraordinary situation needs extraordinary responses. Fudging about won’t do.

    • Traditional common sense and logic get sidelined for money, money and more money. This isn’t going away, but try to explain that to the average person, politican or not, many will get upset because their local pub is shut so they can’t get blathered, or go “but the economy!”

      News flash: we’d all have been better off if we had just suffered through a bit more time in the first lockdown and if people could think of others.

  4. KCC Councillors conveniently want to split Kent up for Covid purposes yet were completely against any part of Kent splitting away for Unitary Council purposes.

    I agree that Kent is completely diverse in its geography and demographics. So how about they start supporting abolishing KCC and creating East Kent, Mid Kent and West Kent Unitary Councils?


  5. MPs rebelling against further infringement of civil liberties today, with a dodgy cut and paste dossier presented by the government which is just not good enough. Labour abstaining. How cowardly when so many are losing jobs and businesses, many now dying from untreated conditions and a mental health crisis is alarming the professionals who work in this field. Dr Karol Sikora, a consultant oncologist and professor of medicine at the University of Buckingham, said Downing Street was running a ‘brainwashing PR campaign’ with ‘data that doesn’t stack up’. We’ve gone back to how it started in March, with [the Government] claiming we need the measures to protect the NHS. The data you’ve shown me (Mail) proves that it doesn’t need protecting. It’s dealing with Covid very well indeed.’ The average age of a covid death is higher than that for the national death rate!

      • I’m happy to read a whole raft of articles if they are open minded from Morning Star, 24 Heures, Mail, Telegraph, 21st Century Wire, UK Column, Liberation, NewsMax, Home Builder, Conservative Woman or Paul Embrey blog, Gateway Pundit, No Dig Gardeners, shift in consciousness articles everywhere etc. etc. You have to catch up Marva. Main stream is dying in parts, and a few journalists speaking out now as they get wind of public opinion and the absurdity of it all. Take a look at UK Column. Might be up your street. Perhaps.

        • You left out Shed monthly, or haven’t you got a shed? You shouldn’t discriminate against those of us who have sheds, in my case I have two!

  6. I am not happy about lockdown and so on. I miss my social life. I miss meeting my mates in the pub.
    But I still think caution should be the watchword. Better to lockdown too hard, then ease back, rather than the other way round.
    As to the hows and whys of why people are dying: how many additional people would die as a result of lockdown, compared with the number that would die if everything opened up?
    Could it be that the NHS is coping *because* lockdown worked?

  7. Relying on the Daily Mail Mr Democrat, is like asking Pravda to criticise Vladimir Putin.In fact the Daily Mail is the Pravda of the Tory party or at least the extreme right wing of it.
    Karel Sikora is a fine physician, but he is an oncologist not an epidemiologist.It is like asking an automotive engineer to design a power station.They are all engineers, but each specialise in their own fields.
    It is the same with your previous trumpeting over the ‘Great Barrington declaration’, some of the signatories were/are distinguished in their fields, but not necessarily in epidemiology.
    What is needed is a comprehensive safety net for affected businesses,principally in hospitality, to allow them to surf the wave of lockdown/tier 3.
    We are still a rich country, so we do not have to choose between the old and the economy, which is what you are really suggesting; we can have both.It just costs a bit of money.
    What the pandemic has highlighted is the ramshackle nature of the UK and Thanet economy, with vast tracts of failing retail and the heavy reliance on selling large amounts of alcohol and food to the public.
    If the UK is to ‘prosper mightily’,its got to do better than this.The fact that UK science has come up with a vaccine in record breaking time is under promising and over delivering, quite the opposite of the £12bn test,track + trace industry.
    We have the brains,ability and technology, all we have to is add the magic ingredient of leadership, nationally and locally.

    • And we have natural immune systems if we know how to look after ourselves. Funny how China is recovering with no vaccine. I read across right, left, black, white, anarchist, the sedate, no dig gardener weekly, young, old – keeps mind open.

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