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‘Norfolk paying price for the North’: why MP won’t back lockdown without exit plan

PUBLISHED: 18:22 02 November 2020 | UPDATED: 19:05 02 November 2020

George Freeman, MP for Mid Norfolk, has warned he will not vote for national lockdown measures without evidence the countys hospitals are set to be overwhelmed by coronavirus         Picture: Archant

George Freeman, MP for Mid Norfolk, has warned he will not vote for national lockdown measures without evidence the countys hospitals are set to be overwhelmed by coronavirus Picture: Archant

Archant 2018

An MP has warned he will not vote for national lockdown measures without a “clear exit plan” for Norfolk - and evidence the county’s hospitals are set to be overwhelmed by Covid.

James Wild, North West Norfolk MP. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYJames Wild, North West Norfolk MP. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

George Freeman, Conservative MP for Mid Norfolk, acknowledged the coronavirus pandemic was threatening a “massively damaging” surge.

But the MP said he needed strong convincing about the government’s approach to the health crisis.

Speaking after the prime minister’s address in the House of Commons (HoC) on Monday, November 2, Mr Freeman said: “It’s clear this disease is on an autumn surge which threatens a massively damaging winter lockdown with all the economic and social misery that means. I think the government has to act.”

READ MORE: ‘Stick to Covid rules - and get Norfolk back into Tier One’

Waveney MP Peter Aldous. Picture: UK ParliamentWaveney MP Peter Aldous. Picture: UK Parliament

He added: “We need to balance local economic and health impact. The best way to do that is by local leadership. I’m worried Norfolk is paying a high price for the spread of the disease in Northern cities.

“I am only prepared to vote for the national lockdown measures if I see clear evidence from the Norfolk NHS of our hospitals set to be overwhelmed; a proper review on December 2 with another vote in parliament; a clear exit plan, based on much stronger local decision making; proper compensation for local small businesses, freelancers, the self-employed and the arts, who face the biggest economic hardships; and proper furlough, free school meals and hardship support for the most vulnerable.”

He said he was working with the county’s MPs and leaders to get all this information before the vote.

READ MORE: Death toll in winter could be twice as high as in first wave of coronavirus, PM to warn

James Wild, Conservative MP for North West Norfolk, said: “I know how painful and costly the first lockdown was for people’s wellbeing and our economy... I am very conscious of the incredible sacrifices people and businesses made to try and control this virus. Before the vote, I will review the evidence and reflect on views on both sides of the debate.”

Peter Aldous, Conservative MP for Waveney, said he had been informed the James Paget University Hospital (JPUH) in Great Yarmouth was “starting to not cope with increased demand”.

He said: “I will be voting for the measures on Wednesday but there are issues which over the next days I will be seeking to address.”

He stressed the importance of community support, help for the hospitality and indoor leisure industries, and outdoor exercise, including the Beccles Lido swimming pool, golf and tennis.

READ MORE: Norfolk’s rubbish tips will remain open during lockdown


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