Locally, there’s more confusion, breakdowns in communication and anger on the COVID-19 front. This is being caused by Essex County Council making a request to the Secretary of State for Health that the county be placed in a HIGHER local COVID-19 alert category immediately: Council leader slams Essex counterparts for Covid status change request.
A brief explainer for those unfamiliar with the area we cover – Thurrock is a unitary authority while neighbouring Basildon comes under Essex County Council. Both are currently on Tier 1 of the alert level. Essex being moved to a higher tier could cause problems for Thurrock if it remained on Tier 1. Out of 149 local authorities nationwide, Thurrock has the 126th lowest rate of infection from COVID-19. When Tier 1 measures are seen to be keeping the problem in check in Thurrock, it’s understandable there’s going to be resistance to being forced into going up a tier or more because of decisions taken by a bigger neighbouring authority.
In our previous piece, we had a dig at the leader of Thurrock Council, Cllr. Rob Gledhill for being over fond of telling Thurrock residents what they can and can’t do: A difference of opinion and a glimmer of hope… However, while Gledhill may want to police our behaviour, he’s not at all keen on anything that might cause businesses to start shutting down, particularly in the hospitality sector which is already on its knees.
Welcome to a ‘new normal’ of ever shifting restrictions and ‘guidelines’ which are leaving a lot of people baffled as to what the f**k they can and can’t do. A confusing situation that’s not helped by what may be a bit of a turf war between unitary Thurrock and Essex County Council. A turf war taking place in the context of a rumoured re-organisation of local government in the south of Essex: South Essex councils in ‘secretive meetings’ (non) shock.
If Thurrock and neighbouring Basildon end up on different tiers, it may well cause a few issues. However, there’s only so much in the way of resources the authorities can put into enforcing whatever restrictions end up being put in place and coping with the differences in them between neighbouring councils. So, as ever, it will be down to the common sense of the majority of people to do what they judge is the right thing rather than follow a confusing mishmash of ever changing restrictions and ‘guidelines’.
Obviously, the unknown factor is how much of an issue lockdown and ‘new normal’ fatigue is becoming. We strongly suspect that a growing number of people are getting fed up with a situation where there’s no sodding end in sight. So, if Essex does opt to go up to a higher tier and whether Thurrock gets dragged along with them or not, we expect a growing number of people will be exercising a degree of creativity in order to try and live as much of a normal life as possible:)