Unleash freedom, not fears

As local lockdowns become more common, Claire Fox in The Municipal Journal warns against the use of draconian measures – keeping everyone working from home may not be the best option.

Local lockdowns are the new normal it seems. The most recent placed restrictions on millions of people living in the North West. The media focused on the impact on Eid celebrations, but there were broader frustrations. People were geared up to get businesses working, return to jobs and socialise with family and friends, only for normality to be abruptly halted.

Even while aggrieved – and some worry this might be an over-reaction – most people accept that more targeted geographic lockdowns are preferable to closing the whole of society. If anything, such interventions should be more micro-local rather than locking down whole regions.

In this context, it makes sense that the Tory Government – not usually keen on dispersing power – has handed local authorities widereaching powers to deal with outbreaks of COVID in their localities. Councils can now shut down outdoor spaces, close premises, restrict transport, limit the number of people at gatherings, cancel events and impose ‘stay at home’ orders

I’m sure this is music to the ears of councils who consistently crave more powers and who argue that they know what is best for their areas, unlike remote Westminster apparatchiks. But surely councils should have reservations here? Accruing these powers has a cost. At the very least, local government can now be blamed if things go wrong.

Read the full article here.