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West Bridgford
Friday, 27 November 2020

Tier 3: Gedling leader describes talks as ‘battle’ with Government to protect hairdressers, theatres and gyms


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Councillor John Clarke is the leader of Gedling Borough Council, and was present throughout the top-level talks.

Now, he said he did the deal because it was a ‘good deal, which makes people safer’, and that he hopes the 28-day limit will be helpful to people’s mental wellbeing, so they can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Speaking today (Tuesday, October 27), he said: “The Government comes on with the suggestions that came through from our own people at county and city and the chief executives, they have drawn up a list of things.

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“So we said yes we can go with that, no we can’t go with that, yes we can go with that, that sort of thing.

“At one time there wouldn’t have been any gyms open, but now they’re going to be open, which is what we wanted. We wanted our leisure centres to stay open as much as possible where they can.

“There are restrictions on the heavy physical stuff, the ‘sweaty stuff’ as they call it, there’s going to be restrictions on those.

“I asked about home visits, there’s still some dark areas around home visits, hairdressers etcetera.

“Hairdressers at one point were going to be knocked out, but we kept them in, but visiting hairdressers, we still couldn’t get an answer out of the Government yesterday.

“Most home hairdressers I’ve seen are one-person businesses but they’re well prepared, and they’ve got the shields, the masks and they sanitise everything, so I think that’s one of the grey areas we’re going to continue to have.

“I asked a question about podiatry because they were saying no home visits, and I said ‘well minister, podiatry is key to keeping an eye on diabetes’, which eventually, he came to, so they put that under medical necessity.

“They wheeled in all sorts of people from the Government to put the pressure on.

“There was a battle yesterday. They said they want to keep the cinemas and theatres closed. I said they’ve got them open in Liverpool, and they’ve got them open in Sheffield, what’s the problem?

“I said I’m going to battle like mad. I pointed out to the minister that some of our theatres, they’ve only got 25 seats, 30 maximum, out of a capacity of 300, and it’s a quality of life issue.

“People come in and it’s a really good break, when we’ve had eight months going into nine months of basic lockdown. So they gave way on that.

“We were fighting to keep some form of normality open (with cinemas and theatres).

“Plus we also, when talking to the minister and talking to all these boffins, said that they’ve given God knows how much money to the arts, there’s got to be some open at the end of it, otherwise you will seriously damage the mental stability of everyone.”

Asked about how the negotiations took place over the financial statement, he said: “They read out from day one, this is what the payment is, so it’s £8 per head to fight COVID, and then around £20 for the financial support.

“They were sticking to their guns a bit, they said you’ve had a lot of money already.

“There was some tough talking on the money, but you could see it was an area that could have ended up in a mess like Manchester. You would have ended up with them steamrolling in and imposing it all on us.

“I’m still waiting to see what we will get as a borough council.

“It’s very vague, all of it. Even after all this time and going through all these different things the clarity isn’t there, and I said to the minister yesterday ‘you’ve got to make these things more clear because people are so confused’.

“It was alright, the negotiating process, but some of the questions they just can’t answer.”