Amongst the gloomy headlines, there is something to celebrate. As I write, the Foxes are top of the Premier League. I am mindful of the old adage that it’s a marathon, not a sprint, but I take heart at this terrific start, and it is to be hoped that they can stay there. This will give many thousands of fans, myself included, something to cheer about in these depressing times.
The COVID-19 epidemic is also beginning to look like a marathon. Leicester, along with Oadby and Wigston, has endured a lengthy period of heightened restrictions. Local people have met this challenge with typical resilience and good humour. I’m proud that, in the main, the Leicestershire Police have not needed to resort to enforcement measures on those who have flouted the rules. Engagement, explanation and encouragement have worked well. That said, the news of penalty notices that could result in £10,000 fines for several illegal gatherings in the city and county last weekend should bring pause for thought to anyone thinking about breaking the ‘rule of six’.
I won’t dwell on the rights and wrongs of government decision making. The opportunity for public judgement on their competence – maybe or lack of it - will come with time. In the here and now, my job is to ensure that everything possible is being done to keep people safe from harm. To this end, I am working closely with the police and our partners across the public and voluntary sectors.
I will be meeting several local leaders in the coming week. We will discuss the issues confronting our diverse community and see what more might be done to help people through this time. On Monday, along with the Chief Constable, I will be (virtually) meeting local faith leaders. We will examine the things that matter most to their congregations and ask for their help in continuing to encourage people to comply with measures to reduce the COVID-19 infection rate.
Our local authorities have done a sterling job, often in the face of confusing and, frankly chaotic advice from Westminster. Later in the week, I will be meeting with the Mayor of Leicester to discuss the situation on the ground in the city. Then, on Friday, I’m talking to community leaders in New Parks. Having funded several projects to build resilience in New Parks, I’m interested to hear how they feel things have moved on. COVID-19 has left its mark on many projects, but it’s been inspiring to see groups adapt to support the current situation.
Finally, but very importantly, many people are finding the prospect of restriction or lockdown continuing for maybe another six-months, extremely unsettling. This is a marathon that we’d rather not be running. So, if you are struggling, please seek help. Don’t suffer in silence. You are not on your own. These are challenging times, but we will come through them together.
My office will offer support wherever possible.
2 October 2020
Posted on Friday 2nd October 2020