A missive from Executive member of WBC Cllr Nick Palmer.
The level is still rising locally – we have the second-highest in Surrey – so it seems only a matter of time before we move into Tier 2, the main difference being that people not in a joint bubble are then not allowed to meet indoors (or in crowds outdoors).
“The Government rules have peculiar exceptions – the notorious one is that it’s illegal for children to get together to feed ducks, but legal for adults to get together to shoot them (“field sports” are exempt from the rules). The latest twist is that we’re allowed to have a big group sitting together inside a restaurant so long as we claim we’re discussing business, and the press has picked up cases where large groups are munching away and obviously not talking about business at all.”
The point, though, is that the rules are to protect us, and whether we think the Government are geniuses or incompetent doesn’t actually matter – we shouldn’t want to mingle households and have big get-togethers, because we’re putting everyone’s lives at risk. In the same way, wearing a mask when we’re shopping or meeting people even outside, is good because we’re less likely to kill them and vice versa, not because a Minister has laid down a rule. There’s nothing political about it; it’s just common sense.
LOOKING ON THE BRIGHT SIDE OF LIFE
On the bright side, it does look as though vaccines will start to come through in a couple of months. Deciding on priorities will be the next job. I think it makes sense to give the first ones to NHS staff and carers, even though the very elderly are more vulnerable, because (a) the NHS and care staff come into contact with far more people, many of whom are vulnerable and (b) the vaccine trials are mostly of healthy adults of working age, and we won’t initially know whether the vaccines are equally helpful for the very elderly. During 2021, we can expect further trials to see which vaccines work best for each of us.
Godalming Community Store – do encourage people to use it!
A friend who helps run this cross-party Town Council community group asks me to encourage more people in difficulty to use it. She writes,
“When the country began going back to work, the call on the store reduced. But we’re well stocked and could help more people hit by the end of furlough in 10 days. I’m concerned the message doesn’t get to the right people. The experience of using the store is dignified and could be life-changing. But individuals and parents finding themselves struggling may never have been in this situation and would find the decision to ask for help and come to us a difficult one.”
If you know someone who might be struggling, do pass this message on. It couldn’t be less bureaucratic or embarrassing – you phone 01483 523575 or email to make an appointment, you turn up and are made welcome, and you take what you need. Zero paperwork or personal questions. Details are here: – which also has details of their Christmas raffle to raise funds to keep the shop stocked and the goods in shorter supply if you can help them in that way.
FREE SCHOOL MEALS
Given the billions being paid out to keep businesses going, you wouldn’t think that the modest cost of providing free meals for children outside term time was controversial – not many of us are comfortable with the idea that some children won’t have enough to eat over Christmas because their parents have lost their jobs in the pandemic.
Unfortunately, this seems to have turned into a political judgment for the Government – they gave in to Marcus Rashford’s first campaign as it was so popular (and decently gave him an award), but are resisting the idea of extending the concession over Christmas as they “don’t want a footballer pushing them around”. Really they should get over themselves and just do it – the cost is relatively trivial, and it’s a one-off since by Christmas 2021 we all hope the problem will have receded.The 5 Conservative MPs who revolted on this (one even resigned from her Government position to do so) and backed Labour’s motion to extend the rules to Christmas deserve special credit. Our own MP’s, Jeremy Hunt & Angela Richardson did not, nor are Surrey among the many educational authorities who are helping out.
(Chair, SW Surrey CLP and member of the Waverley Council executive)