‘He was standing up for us’: Manchester locals on Burnham’s Covid stance | UK news

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Long the home of Mancunian rebellion as the site of the 1819 Peterloo Massacre, St Peter’s Square was a fitting location for Andy Burnham’s rousing speech against the government on Thursday.

After more than a week of dispute between Greater Manchester leaders and No 10 over putting the region into tier 3 measures, most residents passing through the square gave Burnham their staunch backing.

“We’re behind Burnham,” said Glenis Hadfield, 68, from Oldham. “I’m not against tighter restrictions, but I do think there needs to be more support for businesses.”

Andy Burnham: England’s north must not be sacrificed for ‘flawed’ lockdown policy – video

Heading to lunch with her husband Stuart, 69, to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary, she added: “We’re retired so we’ve got our pensions anyway, but I feel sorry for young people, about how they’ll be able to manage if more things close down. A lot of jobs will be lost.”

Manchester Metropolitan University students Sophie Brandon, 19, and Evelyn Stafford, 19, were making the most of living under tier 2 measures after having to self-isolate in residential halls.

Sophie Brandon and Evelyn Stafford

Students Sophie Brandon and Evelyn Stafford. Photograph: Joel Goodman/The Guardian

“We went out to a bar the other night because it might be our last chance,” said Brandon, as the pair took a stroll through the city. “Obviously it’s easier for us if the measures are less strict, but they’re not providing enough money [to support jobs and businesses] in tier 3 either.”

However, both were still hoping a resolution would be found. “We want to know what’s going to happen so we know whether to go home or not,” Stafford said.

One of the few dissenters from Burnham’s campaign, an 81-year-old pensioner from Bolton, said he understood where the mayor was coming from, but “you wonder if he’s using it as a weapon to go at the Tories with”.

A short walk away, outside the Peveril of the Peak pub, solicitor Ben Gladden suggested the north-south divide had been widened by the fallout between local leaders and the government. “The idea that [the north] is being used as a test resonates with me,” the 43-year-old said during a lunchtime pint.

While the government has repeatedly warned that further delays to a decision on restrictions in the region could allow the virus to spread and ultimately “put people’s lives at risk”, Gladden said that he didn’t believe the mayor would “do anything that’s a health risk”.

Ben Gladden and Mark Hallard outside the Peveril of the Peak pub.

Solicitor Ben Gladden and cycle courier Mark Hallard outside the Peveril of the Peak pub. Photograph: Joel Goodman/The Guardian

On the bench next to him, waiting for his next job to come in, bicycle courier Mark Hallard, 40, from Moss Side, said he liked the fact Burnham was “standing up for us”.

“We’ve lost work because all the offices have shut down and when the bars shut down, there’ll be nothing,” he said. “We need this financial back-up. I can’t afford to go in and support local cafes if there’s no money in my pocket.”

Tor Sagen, 44, assistant manager at landmark city centre pub The Britons Protection, which does not serve food, said the current 67% furlough package on offer in tier 3 areas would send hospitality staff into “pure poverty”.

The business, he believed, would not fare much better, as it is currently being “propped up” by its owners with profits not enough to cover rent. “We’re already cutting staff hours because of the curfew – it’s not busy enough.”

Though he backed Burnham, Sagen did not believe his efforts would be successful against a government that ultimately had the power to impose tier 3 measures on the region. Contemplating his next career move should the pub fail, he quipped: “I could always go into cyber.”

Hafta Ichi
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: ‘He was standing up for us’: Manchester locals on Burnham’s Covid stance | UK news

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