Slough’s MP Tan Dhesi says his community has been ‘segregated’ from its neighbours, as it is the only town in Berkshire moving into tier three rules after lockdown.
Other towns and cities are being moved onto the strictest level of restrictions in regional clusters, but on a map depicting the new system, Slough is a tiny red island in a sea of orange tier two areas.
Slough currently has a high infection rate of 313.6 cases per 100,000 people, on par with parts of the North and Midlands entering tier three.
But Dhesi says it’s unfair to single out just one town, when the whole of London is going into tier two despite its eastern borough of Havering having an infection rate of 342.9.
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The Labour MP says it should either be done on a regional or local authority basis, not both, and suggested some places managed to ‘negotiate’ with the Government to avoid being plunged into tier three.
He told Metro.co.uk: ‘Slough is the only local authority area which has been divided or segregated from its surrounding region, it just doesn’t make sense.
‘What needs to happen is there needs to be some consistency. It seems some people have managed to negotiate themselves into being in a lower tier.
When asked how local leaders wrangled their way out of stricter rules, he said: ‘It seems that certain areas are in a lower tier than they should be in, based on high case numbers.
‘Certain individuals and areas voiced their displeasure about higher tiers and therefore have in effect negotiated their way out of a higher tier. There are too many inconsistencies.’
Describing his reaction to today’s tier announcement, he said: ‘I was disappointed and angry that we have been made into a special case, not just in the South East but also, it seems, in the country, where we are the only local authority to be separated from the rest of the region.
‘If they’re going to do that they should have done that in other counties. Regional or local authority, you can only do one or the other.’
The MP said he would be ‘pressing’ Downing Street for extra support as he fears businesses in town are going to struggle, with customers flocking to neighbouring pubs and restaurants.
Neighbouring Windsor and Maidenhead do have a much lower infection rate of 137.4 per 100,000 people, compared to 159.9 in South Bucks, 144 in Reading and 194 in the west London borough of Hillingdon.
Dhesi is not the only one accusing the Government of being inconsistent. Labour MP for Lancaster tweeted: ‘I’m furious that me and my constituents are in Tier 3 restrictions when my constituency has a lower infection rate than the neighbouring Cumbrian councils who get to be in Tier 2.
‘How is this fair? What message is this ridiculous decision sending residents and businesses?’
However council leaders in Lancashire have a different grip to Dhesi, asking why the whole county has been placed into tier three, rather than being split to reflect lower infection rates in parts of central, west and north Lancashire.
Anger is also mounting in Kent, with MP for Ashford Damian Green tweeting: ‘I’m hugely disappointed that the whole of Kent has been put into Tier 3. Before lockdown we were in Tier 1 so what has lockdown achieved? We need the full analysis made public.’
Infection rates vary considerably in Kent, from 535 cases per 100,000 people in Swale – the highest rate in England – compared to just 126.9 in rural Ashford.
Metro.co.uk has contacted the Department of Health for Comment.
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