The Northern Liberal Network has led on producing an open letter to the Prime Minister calling on him to work constructively with local government and communities across the North in response to the COVID-19 crisis. If you wish to add your name to the letter, you can do so by filling in the google form.

Dear Prime Minister

We are Liberal Democrats from across the North, calling on the government to take urgent action to support people, communities and businesses across the North.

Millions of people across the north have been living under local restrictions for months. They have borne it with fortitude, but infection rates are still rising. Now the government threatens months of further restrictions, without the support needed to underpin it. This risks a death by a thousand cuts for our hospitality and creative sectors – and the jobs that depend on them.

The north of England hosts dynamic businesses, a rich arts sector, world-leading universities and some of the country’s most popular national parks. But we are too often overlooked by a London-centric government. We are proud of our communities and stand ready to work cross-party to deliver the support they need to work together to defeat the virus.

Clearly, with case numbers and hospital admissions rising rapidly, urgent action is needed. But the government’s own analysis makes clear that even Tier 3 may not be enough. And if local lockdowns without additional support were effective, areas like Greater Manchester and the North East, where restrictions have been in place for months, would not be in this position. We need to do better than the same failed strategy.

Regardless of whether regional or national lockdown strategies are pursued we are calling on the government to act rapidly and constructively with local political leaders who are grounded in communities – not act by fiat from Whitehall – to put in place the support we need to sustain a lockdown and come out of it better placed to defeat the virus.

These actions should include:

  1. Urgent funding for local action on test and trace. The central system is an expensive failure. Local government has the capacity to help – but not the funding. A rapid infusion of funding to enable local scale-up could be transformative for our fight against the virus, and justify the pain caused by a second lockdown.
  2. Support to enable people to self-isolate. Fewer people across the North can work from home, which may be one reason why the initial lockdown was less effective. That means that support is more urgently needed for those who cannot work while self-isolating.
  3. Extension of the furlough scheme to save jobs and support people and communities. While borrowing costs next to nothing, the Chancellor is choosing to leave workers without a salary and forcing viable enterprises out of business. This is a heartless political choice whose effects will last years. He must expand furlough support urgently until June 2021.
  4. Protect people living in care. People living in care were appallingly let down in the first weeks of this crisis. We must not make the same mistake again. Government must guarantee that all discharges from hospitals into care homes take place only following a negative COVID test. Staff and residents must be able to access regular testing, with results within 24 hours, and the same must apply to people being supported to live independently, as well as those visiting loved ones in care homes.
  5. Support to children and young people. Government must support schools to stay open, whilst also ensuring they have resources to provide online learning. This means getting laptops and internet access to pupils from low income households. They must extend free school meals and vouchers to ensure every child in poverty can access them, even when schools are closed. They must reach a fair deal for university students who are being charged for accommodation they do not want to use, and ensure that actions to tackle outbreaks in the student community consider the rights and needs of both students and local residents.

Laura Gordon, Chair, Northern Liberal Network
Cllr Lisa Smart, Vice-Chair, Northern Liberal Network and Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrats on Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council
Lord Dick Newby, Baron Newby of Rothwell, Leader of the Liberal Democrats in the House of Lords
Tim Farron MP, Member of Parliament for Westmorland and Lonsdale
Cllr Keith Aspden, Leader, City of York Council
Cllr Giles Archibald, Leader, South Lakeland District Council
Cllr Karen King, Deputy Leader, Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council
Cllr Howard Sykes, Leader of the Liberal Democrats on Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council and Leader of the Liberal Democrat group at the Local Government Association
Lord Stunell of Hazel Grove
Lord Scriven of Hunters Bar in the City of Sheffield and former Leader of Sheffield City Council
Cllr Mark Hunter, Leader of the Liberal Democrats on Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council
Cllr Shaffaq Mohammed, Leader of the Liberal Democrats on Sheffield City Council
Cllr Hannah Kitching, Leader of the Liberal Democrats on Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council
Cllr James Baker, Leader of the Liberal Democrats on Calderdale Metropolitan Borough Council
Cllr Mike Ross, Leader of the Liberal Democrats on Hull City Council
Cllr Tom Gordon, Leader of the Liberal Democrats on Wakefield Metropolitan District Council
Cllr John Lawson, Leader of the Liberal Democrats on Kirklees Metropolitan Council
Cllr Nick Cott, Leader of the Liberal Democrats on Newcastle City Council
Cllr David Minchella, Leader of the Liberal Democrats on Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council
Cllr John Potter, Leader of the Liberal Democrats on Preston Borough Council
Cllr David Nolan, Leader of the Liberal Democrats on East Riding of Yorkshire Council
Cllr Stewart Golton, Leader of the Liberal Democrats on Leeds City Council and West Yorkshire Mayoral Candidate for the Liberal Democrats
Cllr Richard Kemp, Leader of the Liberal Democrats on Liverpool City Council
Cllr Niall Hodson, Leader of the Liberal Democrats on Sunderland City Council
Cllr Jeanette Sunderland, Leader of the Liberal Democrats on Bradford City Council
Cllr Roger Hayes, Leader of the Liberal Democrats on Bolton Metropolitan Borough Council
Cllr Andy Kelly, Leader of the Liberal Democrats on Rochdale Metropolitan Borough Council
Cllr Pat Marsh, Leader of the Liberal Democrats on Harrogate Borough Council
Cllr Geoff Webber, Leader of the Liberal Democrats on North Yorkshire County Council
Cllr Jonathan Wallace, Leader of the Liberal Democrats on Gateshead Metropolitan Council
Cllr Glyn Nightingale, Leader of the Liberal Democrats on Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council
Judith Rogerson, Parliamentary Spokesperson for Harrogate and Knaresborough
Cllr Steve Mason, Malton
Cllr David Whipp, Leader Liberal Democrat Group & Dep Council Leader, Pendle Borough Council. Leader, Lancashire County Council Liberal Democrat Group
Cllr Tom Morrison, Stockport
Owen Lambert, Morecambe
Cllr Jack Haines, Hull
David Rydings, Southport
Ruth Ker, North Yorkshire
Dr Gary Wilson, Liverpool
James Tattersall, Chair of Southport Liberal Democrats
Cllr Mark Rudhall, Penrith
Peter Jackson, Chair of Lancaster and Morecambe Liberal Democrats
Tom McGrath, Sheffield
Cllr Mark E Weldon, Stockport
Brian Wernham, Carlisle
Samuel Mallinson, Doncaster
Cllr Charles Gibson, Stockport
Cllr Becky Senior, Stockport
Mike Sammon, Southport
Dan Martin, Leeds
Cllr Anthony Smith, Huddersfield, Chair of Colne Valley Liberal Democrats
Roger Dobson, Brampton
Cllr Paola Davies, Huddersfield
Cllr Lou Ankers, Stockport
Cllr Mark Roberts, Stockport
Cllr Neil Darby, Preston
Cllr Alison Munro, Kirklees
Janet Babar, Kendal
Judith Morris, Carlisle
Simon Lepori, Parliamentary Spokesperson for Wythenshawe & Sale East
Pauline Mitchell, Rochdale
Tom Pullman, Northumberland
Cllr Anne Hook, York
Cllr Kris Brown, Liberal Democrat Candidate for Merseyside Police and Crime Commissioner
Chris Northwood, Manchester
Alison Sics, Sheffield
Bernard Champness, Altrincham
Gillian Wroe, Bolton
John Pigott OBE, Chorley, Former Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group on Wigan MBC
Pauline Nash, Halifax
Cllr Phoenix Adair, Preston
James Lloyd, Wirral
Cllr Will Dawson, Stockport
Stephanie Portersmith, Preston
Martin Thompson, Swansea
James Blessing, Salford
Lord William Wallace of Saltire
Cllr Iain Roberts, Stockport
Cllr Joe Otten, Sheffield
Dominic Wells, Stockport
Sarah Edgar, Stockport
Luke Burrows, Manchester
Cllr Christine Corris, Stockport
Suzanne Wyatt, Stockport
Cllr Angie Clark, Stockport
Cllr Julian Newgrosh, Leader of Trafford Liberal Democrats
Cllr Colin Macalister, Stockport
Tom Sutton, Wirral
Cllr Wendy Meikle, Stockport
Colin Ferguson, Deputy Leader of Newcastle Liberal Democrats
Sue Tyrer, Liverpool
Tracey Henry, Vice Chair of Hull Liberal Democrats
Cllr Keith Holloway, Stockport
Glenn Oliver, DE6
Cllr Grace Baynham, Stockport
Cllr Alan Tormey, Liverpool
Anne Corris, Stockport
Peter Thornton, Deputy Leader of Cumbria Council and Leader of the Liberal Democrats on Cumbria Council
Cllr Stephen Gribbon, Stockport
John Linnell, Chester
Dr Judith Hooper, Ripon
Vic Foulds, Southport
Julie Luckraft-Voges, Preston
Cllr Tom Astell, Beverley
Conor McKenzie, Harrogate
Josephine Thompson, Harrogate
Alison Sics, Sheffield
Robert Reiss, Sheffield
Dr Laura West, Sheffield
Daniel Walker, Chair, Leeds West Liberal Democrats
Teresa Wilson, Chair of Blackpool and Cleveleys Liberal Democrats
Jonathan Martin, Chair of Withington, Old Moat and Burnage LDs
Amanda Wintcher, Gateshead
Andrew McGuinness, Manchester
Stuart Nutt, Southport
Cllr Michael Yates, Preston
Cristina Mylroie, Preston
Ashley Conway, Cockermouth
Gary Kirkhope, Harrogate
Cllr Andy Corckhill, Liberal Democrat Candidate for Mayor of the Liverpool City Region
Nikki Stocks, Calderdale
Susan Elizabeth Nichol, Carlisle
Deborah Vaughan, Liverpool
Adarsh Makdani, Vice Chair of Sefton Central and Bootle Liberal Democrats
Kingsley Jones, Bury
Cllr David Pullin, Southport
Cllr Lynne Thompson, Ainsdale Southport
Cllr Patricia Keith, Southport
Monica Scott, Harrogate
Cllr Ray Georgeson, Otley
Joanne Joyner, Harrogate
Sister Maria O’Connor, Harrogate
Cllr David Wilkinson, Bolton