Possible move to Tier 2 for Scarborough and North Yorkshire: We are damned if we do, damned if we don't, says councillor

Scarborough is “damned if it does, damned if it doesn’t”, a leading borough councillor has said as discussions continue about whether to move all or parts of North Yorkshire into Tier 2 Covid-19 restrictions.

By Sarah Fitton
Thursday, 29th October 2020, 4:42 pm
Updated Thursday, 29th October 2020, 4:45 pm

Cllr Andrew Backhouse said that the borough was being “locked-in” as surrounding areas West Yorkshire and Teesside look set to move shortly into Tier 3.

And this afternoon it was announced that Bridlington and the rest of the East Riding, plus Hull, would move from Tier 1 to Tier 2 from Saturday.

The chairman of the council’s Audit Committee said that while it would be good to remain in Tier 1, businesses that were suffering due to the lack of tourists can only get Government financial support should the borough move into Tier 2.

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Scarborough currently has a seven-day rolling infection rate of 130 per 100,000 people, well below the North Yorkshire average of 174 and the national average of 225.

Speaking during a meeting of the committee today, Cllr Backhouse said there were no easy choices.

He said: “It soon becomes apparent that while, thankfully, we are quite low in cases we will be locked-in rather than locked down.

“That not only has an impact on health but also a financial impact on businesses because we can’t go anywhere and nobody can come here but the actual support for businesses doesn’t kick in until Tier 2.

“We are damned if we do and damned if we don’t in regards to wanting to remain really positive to stay in Tier 1 for the settlement of our residents’ minds, but that doesn’t help local businesses who have really struggled so far with the impact of this as where their customers are drawn from they can’t come and can’t go.”

Discussions have been taking place at a national level about whether to move all of Yorkshire and the Humber into Tier 2 to simplify the message across the region.

It has also led to calls for North Yorkshire’s districts to be treated separately due to higher infection rates in the west of the county compared to the east.

Scarborough Council’s finance director Nick Edwards told the meeting that as the number of infections in the borough was increasing it was “likely” that it was leading to Tier 2 at some point in the future.

He added he had been in discussions with the council’s chief executive, Mike Greene, about lobbying for Scarborough to treated as separate from other the districts if, at any point, it was proposed that part or all of North Yorkshire be moved into the very high-risk Tier 3 category.

Mr Edwards said: “What you might have in Tier 3 is Scarborough’s numbers may still be quite low and if it is determined across North Yorkshire because maybe Craven and Harrogate have quite high numbers Tier 3 means we have to shut down some of our hospitality businesses which could have a detrimental effect on our area, being a tourist area.

“We are putting our case forward that Scarborough should be identified separately for the tiering but there is a lot of discussion to be had across North Yorkshire.”