Covid-19 restrictions shouldn’t be further relaxed, not yet anyway. By the time your paper goes to press MPs will have voted on whether to confirm the Government’s revised tier system or not.

I understand as many as 100 Conservative MPs were considering rebelling against the Government because they felt the restrictions were either too strict generally or too strict for their areas.

My message to them, to the government, and to all of us is when it comes to limiting our activities to prevent coronavirus spread is: Don’t stop now!

At the end of this second period of lockdown numbers of cases and hospital are beginning to fall, sadly deaths are only just peaking or possibly falling a little. Last time it took three months of lockdown before the numbers came down to significantly low levels. I am concerned that the tier system may not be strict enough, but also, I am sure that relaxing it before there are further clear ‘post lockdown’ reductions in numbers is not the right way to go.

If our area, or anyone else’s, seems to be in too strict a tier, this is actually a good thing in the long term: the higher the tier, the less the chance of the disease spreading and the quicker restrictions will be lifted when reviewed.

Like Lisa Nandy, the Labour front bench spokesperson interviewed at the weekend, I am aware of the enormous economic pain that restrictions will cause, even the lesser tier two regulations we shall face in West Cumbria; this affects the hospitality industry, the retail sector and many other industries and services.

All businesses that have to close down, or run a greatly restricted operation, and all their employees who lose money, whether in lockdown, or whichever tier, should be adequately compensated. Yes, this will cost a lot of money, and yes, it will increase the national debt. But the pandemic is an international crisis on a par with the world wars of the 20th century.

We need the same community spirit, locally and nationally, that got us through the wars – to use a much quoted slogan from those days “keep calm and carry on”. Or as I said before – Don’t stop now!


Dearham, near Maryport

Panto time for councils

The first Christmas comedy special has arrived in Cumbria – and it’s called Local Government Reorganisation.

We are a county of fewer than half a million people, have six district councils, a county council and include two national park authorities.

The assembled geniuses working on this reorganisation have come up with four options to reduce the number of councils but can’t agree on any of them.

There is little surprise that the districts don’t agree with the single county unitary model, as that would mean more than 200 very important district councillors, mayors, leaders etc losing their jobs. As a former Conservative council leader once rightly said, the efficiencies, savings and improved overall effectiveness won’t persuade those turkeys to vote for Christmas.

What is really astonishing is that Copeland, Allerdale, Carlisle, Barrow, Eden and South Lakeland district councils can’t agree on ANY of the four options. On top of that Allerdale don’t want to be linked to Copeland but Copeland are desperate to be linked to them. The whole thing is like some sort of pantomime, with our borough as a rather unpopular Widow Twanky. That must be particularly embarrassing for our Mayor who reportedly wants to boss a new larger authority whatever its shape.

At a time when we are facing a grim Christmas, a dangerous and ruinous pandemic, the destruction of much of the area’s retail and hospitality business plus personal employment and financial crises, this self-indulgent bickering and time wasting really isn’t needed – is it?



Is The Peddler the appropriate name..?

“There is no doubt, that the conversion of the former bus station in Whitehaven into a new 100-seater new bar and café will be a major boost to the town’s food and drinks scene... especially when we are desperate to increase the footfall into town from residents and tourists alike.

What has had me jumping on a hot tin roof is the proposed name of the place – The Peddler.

At first I thought, this has got to be an introverted joke, especially when one considers the meaning of The Peddler.

Many of us mature people know what a pedlar is: he’s the door to door salesman calling to sell of all manner of kitchen items from his holdall, and we bought the odd dishcloth, and those who called to sharpen our kitchen utensils or sell ice cream from a jug, from his horse and cart... mind you, it was my wonderful grannie who kept our pedlar in business.

Nevertheless, she was aware that it was an Americanism spelling, ending in -lar.

To be serious for a moment, the actual meaning of The Peddler, is “a person who sells drugs illegally”...

My Whitehaven Central ward unfortunately does have a drugs problem, which is a known fact and one that considerably disrupts the work of our local police who become as exasperated as I do at the waste of time the behaviour of these people cause.

And now we learn that a panel of persons have concluded that The Peddler is an appropriate name for a brand new venue is an insult to me and many, who attempt every day to educate people down an alternative route.

Next thing, we’ll be hearing... “Nowt rang wid gannin’ doon t’ Peddler, Marra”...

And nor is it. But let’s have a name that doesn’t evoke shame that we’ve been so dim as to denigrate our tourism opportunity to make us look like fools, unable to conjure up a relative name such as “The Archway” or “The Gateway”....or even “The Watering Hole” for that matter!


Borough councillor, Whitehaven Central Ward

Give and take

The Archbishop of Canterbury was quick to tweet that the temporary cut in the UK’s Overseas Aid Budget to 0.5% of GDP is “shameful and wrong”. That’s a cut from about £15bn to £10bn, less as GDP reduces.

His church has assets of over £8bn but only 0.75m people attend Church of England Sunday services. When Justin Welby takes a sabbatical next year, he should take time to reflect how some of that money can be used to help the world’s poor, not just his dwindling organisation.

The Government has already spent huge sums funding vaccine research and the results will benefit many worldwide – that’s foreign aid to my mind, too.

Charity, though, begins at home. The UK should help itself while helping those overseas. One way is to gift British-made products to British charities to give to worthwhile projects overseas. Such products would boost companies in our islands, provide employment and help the poor overseass – a win-win.


Camden Town, London