Ed: At the end of September our contributor Alan Piper wrote a letter to his constituency MP. He gave us permission to publish it – you can read it again here. He contacted his MP again, about BJ’s ‘tier system’, and received the following reply, ‘totally on message’, as Alan wrote when he gave me permission to publish this letter as well as his reply. Alan’s MP is Tim Farron LibDem, so we can predict that he won’t join the Tory covid ‘rebels’.
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Tim Farron MP’s reply to Alan Piper’s letter:
Thank you very much for your recent email with regard to the forthcoming vote on the new tier system in Parliament.
I have considerable concerns for the long-term economic health of wet pubs and I hope you have been able to access small business grants during this second lockdown, although I know it will never make up for lost income that you could be making, especially at this time of year.
I, like you, am fed up with restrictions. It has been nine long months since we entered the first lockdown in late March of this year and 2020 has since been defined by face masks, shielding, furlough, social distancing, and bubbles – concepts that were foreign to us only a year ago. Many of us haven’t seen family or friends in far too long and we are all desperately longing for things to return to normal. However, with the roll-out of three new vaccines, we can now see the light at the end of the tunnel and it would be foolish to throw away our hard-won achievements. If you’ll forgive the football analogy, we are in the 89th minute and we are a goal ahead (the R is decreasing). We shouldn’t be running into the middle of the pitch for a free-for-all, we should be heading to the corner flag to run down the clock.
I can assure you that this matter weighs heavily on me. However, I will undertake due diligence and will examine the evidence presented to me and scrutinise the legislation, when it becomes available. Because we are so close to actual herd immunity through vaccination, I will not take this decision lightly.
Mrs P asks a good question. The primary reason for us being moved up into Tier 2 has an answer in two parts. The first is that it appears that the Government is now allocating to tiers by county areas not district areas as before, so Cumbria as a whole has been moved into Tier 2. The second is that case rates in the 60+ demographic in Barrow and Carlisle are too high. I quote from the Health Minister’s written statement on tier allocations:
“The picture in Cumbria is broadly improving although case rates in Carlisle and South Lakeland are increasing – with increases likely due to a large school outbreak. Case rates in over 60s are above 100 per 100,000 in Carlisle and Barrow-in-Furness. These case rates are too high for allocation to tier 1 but Cumbria’s trajectory does currently not warrant inclusion in tier 3.”
With best wishes
TIM FARRON MP”
Alan Piper replied to Mr Farron and gave us permission to publish it as well:
“Hi Tim, thanks for the detailed reply.
Just to be clear, after serious thought we cannot operate under tier 2. Aside of all the group/bubble rules, bar staff apart it would mean employing 3 or 4 staff to produce and serve food, then chasing people out after they’ve eaten. What people, at this time of year?
And why on earth can’t their bubbles linger over a drink.? Makes no sense.
Our bar (free house, 8 real ales, etc) does more trade than the food and room income streams put together, although this time of year most of our trade would be locals who won’t want to eat. Before Boris’ latest, we were planning to open 4pm to 8ish, Monday to Thursday and a bit longer over the weekends. Not a big covid risk but not doable now.
So I won’t be spending serious money heating the building and water for guests, but I will be throwing away about a grand’s worth of booze, again. (It was more than double that in March).
And looking forward to trading again…. when? 5 days over xmas? Doubt it. Selling what? Which local brewery is going to fire up again for 5 days trade?
I will be paying the mortgage of course, without cashflow, but again, until when? Spring? Do you seriously think Boris and co are going back off when a vaccine arrives?
I think they’re getting the taste for lording it now.
What I find incredible is that the only tangible opposition is coming from his back benches. You know better than anyone, Barrow is 25 miles away, Carlisle about 70 and July to October we served all comers from all over without any issues, CV or otherwise.
Yes we got a grant during lockdown, have taken out a Bounce Back loan and have received a little more now but Parliament seems to have given up questioning the executive and we are run by a group of 4 people, bankrupting the country in the process. For a flu variant.
Sorry but the future looks very bleak from here. I’d rather settle for herd immunity and the vulnerable protected as per Barrington Declaration, that dancing to the control freakery of Hancock, Boris and his latest squeeze.
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Ed: Alan’s letter shows what the conditions ‘on the ground’ are really like, how these covid tiers affect businesses like pubs, even those not exactly in ‘urban covid hotspots’. He also touches on the situation for breweries, especially small ones, and other suppliers to the pub trade. These are the wealth creators on whose back the civil serpents ride and think up measures which do more damage, in the long run, than even ‘long covid’.
If you have received similar or indeed ‘rebel’ replies from your MPs, please think about letting us re-publish such correspondence! We all need to know what ‘our’ representative covid peacocks tell you and us!