CONSERVATIVE councillors in St Helens will not be attending the full council meeting on Wednesday because of fears over the spread of coronavirus.

Group leader Cllr Allan Jones, who serves the Rainford ward, shared the news following a meeting with those in his party.

He said the "major concern" is that the rate of infection is very high and confirmed he has informed officers and group leaders about the decision.

Speaking on Monday, Cllr Jones said: “We had a group meeting today, the three of us, and we have decided that we will not be attending the council meeting on Wednesday, simply because the rates of infection in St Helens are far too high and we think even though they have made certain precautions at the Town Hall we think the risk of infection is too high to have a large meeting at this time.”

Cllr Martin Bond, cabinet member for finance and governance, has issued a statement on the matter.

He said: “Despite our objections, the Conservative Government forced St Helens Council and other councils across the country to return to physical meetings.

"But now local Conservatives are saying they won’t turn up for meetings, despite us taking every possible step to hold the meeting safely, and despite there being important items on the agenda affecting residents in Rainford who voted for them. It really is one rule for them and one rule for everyone else."

Nearly 1,000 new cases of Covid were recorded in St Helens in the latest weekly figures, as the the infection rates continue to rise.

Figures showed last week there were 30 Covid patients in Whiston Hospital and while the vaccination programme has significantly weakened the link between Covid and serious illness, doctors predict those numbers will continue to go up.

More than 105,000 people in St Helens have now had two Covid jabs, more than two thirds of people aged over 18.

Two Covid-related deaths were recorded in St Helens over the past week.