A TOTAL shutdown of the region’s bars and restaurants would be “devastating”, St Helens North MP Conor McGinn has warned amid calls for a local furlough scheme to be put in place.

The Labour MP has slammed ministers for appearing to once again bypass members of Parliament on the Government’s latest plans to try and curb the spread of Covid-19.

According to the report, which was published in The Times this morning, the Government is planning to enforce a total social lockdown across the majority of northern Britain and potentially London.

During a point of order in Parliament last week, Mr McGinn hit out at ministers for their failure to brief MPs on the recent lockdown measures announced for Merseyside.

And following the report in The Times, which cites a senior Government source, Mr McGinn said a greater degree of scrutiny and accountability is needed to maintain public trust.

Mr McGinn said: “It is disgraceful that once again we have lockdown proposals affecting St Helens and Merseyside briefed by ‘Government insiders’ to the press, rather than being properly announced.

“These measures would have a huge impact on local families and our community, and would be devastating for many businesses and jobs in our area.

“Local MPs have not been told about them never mind asked our views on them, and that is not acceptable.

“We can’t continue to have rule by decree from London, with the Government failing to engage with local representatives and imposing these measures on our constituents without any consultation or scrutiny.

“Alongside that, while senior council and Liverpool City Region Combined Authority officers and public health officials across the region have done a very good job in implementing regulations and guidelines, it should not be their decision to approve them, and their relationship with the Government on operational matters are not a replacement for discussions that should be taking place between the Government and local elected representatives on wider political, economic and community issues.

“People are being asked to make huge sacrifices and trust the decisions being made, and so they are rightly demanding proper scrutiny and accountability both in Parliament and in our city region.

“We need to see that happening to maintain public confidence and support.”

St Helens Star: Conor McGinn, Labour MP for St Helens NorthConor McGinn, Labour MP for St Helens North

Last week, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a range of new national restrictions in the House of Commons, which he expects to be in place for six months.

These new measures came just days after a series of lockdown restrictions were announced for Merseyside, Warrington, Halton and Lancashire, excluding Blackpool.

Following the announcement, St Helens Borough Council leader David Baines accused ministers of “radio silence”, saying local politicians heard nothing but “rumour and speculation”.

And Cllr Baines has hit out at the Government’s communication once again following reports that a total social lockdown for the region in looming.

“Not for the first time, today we are finding out about possible new regulations from the Tory press rather than directly from ministers or health officials,” Cllr Baines said.

“I’ve yet to have any contact from Government to confirm or deny the reports.

“If the reports are correct and they do want to introduce tougher restrictions for our borough and the wider region because of increasing Covid rates, then they need to be straight with us and involve residents, businesses and community leaders in the process.

“There needs to be proper scrutiny of the process ministers are undertaking when deciding to introduce new regulations, because currently they can do what they like with no meaningful consultation whatsoever, and that’s worrying.”

If the reports are true, Cllr Baines said the Government must implement a local furlough scheme and provide further support for the self-employed.

Cllr Baines said: “I have no doubt if new measures are introduced that the vast majority of St Helens residents and businesses will continue to do their bit, but Government need to do theirs.

“As well as drastically improving their communication with us, they need to put in place a proper package of measures to protect jobs and support our local economy, including proper financial support for businesses particularly in the hospitality sector who are already struggling, a local furlough scheme, and support for the self-employed who too often have been ignored during this crisis.

“It’s also vital that childcare be exempted from any rules about household mixing.

“Without proper scrutiny, communication and financial support the Government are at risk of losing the confidence of residents and businesses.”