The leader of a Welsh council in lockdown has called on the First Minister to lift the travel restrictions because of the “catastrophic effect” it will have on the local economy.

Sam Rowlands is the Conservative council leader of Conwy Council, an area highly reliant on the tourist trade.

Conwy is one of the 15 counties and one town (Llanelli) which are currently in lockdown. This means no one is allowed to travel into or out of the local authority area.

In a letter to Mark Drakeford, Mr Rowlands said: “I outlined to you in our meeting last week the catastrophic effect this restriction is likely to have on our local economy and then, in turn, the impact on the health and wellbeing of my residents as the potentially face redundancy, or the loss of their business.”

a man wearing a suit and tie smiling at the camera: Sam Rowlands, leader of Conwy County Council

© WalesOnline
Sam Rowlands, leader of Conwy County Council

He added that he is “very supportive of balanced measures which follow the evidence of what is causing the increase in Covid-19 cases”.

Mr Rowlands said “it is clear that there is no evidence” which suggests the that it is the movement of people which is the major contributing factor for the increase of cases in North Wales.

“Therefore, this restriction does not appear to be based on any evidence and seems completely disproportionate to the reality of the situation.” he added.

The council leader also said that the restrictions on movement in and out of the county failed to take into account “the natural cross border necessity of life in North Wales”. He said that people “cannot understand why they cannot travel a few hundred metres to their nearest shop but are ‘allowed’ to travel miles in the opposite direction to access the same service”.

Criticism from local government leaders of the UK Government response has been a running theme of the crisis in England – especially councils in the north of England.

This is the first time a Welsh council leader has publicly called on the Welsh Government to reverse local lockdown measures.

The First Minister and health minister has indicated several times that they are willing to impose more localised lockdowns where the data suggests if would be effective. However this has only been introduced in one part of Wales in the case of Llanelli.

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