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Council leader and mayor ‘left out’ of London lockdown plans

Southwark’s leader has hit out after being left out of a government exercise which reportedly planned using the M25 to seal off London if Covid spikes again.

Peter John, who is also chair of London councils, said the government discussing contingency plans for a London lockdown without the involvement of local figures was an “affront”.

Mayor Sadiq Khan has also blasted the “totally unacceptable plans”, first reported in a Sunday newspaper.

In a joint letter, Cllr John and Mr Khan said: “Our surprise is that such far-reaching contingency plans have been discussed and tested without the involvement or awareness of London’s government.

“This is clearly totally unacceptable and an affront to London and Londoners.

“We know our communities and their needs far better than national government. As Category 1 responders, we have a legal duty to our city and cannot do what is right for Londoners if we are excluded from key planning sessions in this way.”

Sadiq Khan

The ‘war games’ exercise reportedly took place last Wednesday, according to the Sunday Times.

The proposals were said to include banning overnight stays, closing close contact services such as barbers, and imposing stay at home orders.

Londoners would also be reportedly be told to stay within the M25.

A source told the paper: “The challenge in London is how quickly people move around on the trains and Tube.

“It would potentially spread much quicker than in other areas, so you’d have to be quicker on the regional hammer in London.”

Cllr John and Mr Khan slammed Boris Johnson for “riding roughshod” over London local leaders.

“Time and time again throughout this crisis the government has been slow to take decisions or have taken the wrong decisions,” they said in Monday’s letter to the Prime Minister.

Appearing on the BBC on Monday, minister Nadhim Zahawi called the media reports “speculation,” but refused to rule out London being subject to a coronavirus lockdown again.



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