Covid Watch 152: Fewer than one third of local people want all covid restrictions to end on 19 July

The results of my straw poll are in. Just three in ten people want all restrictions lifted next Monday. Sajid Javid and Boris Johnson yesterday announced they are sticking to their plan to remove almost all restrictions on 19 July. But fewer than one-third of the 395 respondents think that all restrictions should end next Monday. From what I have learnt in the past week, wearing of face masks is the main concern people have about the easing of restrictions. We learnt from Javid yesterday that the easing of almost all restrictions is not “irreversible” as Johnson had previously claimed: “If [the] risk matrix changes, for example with variants of concern, we will not hesitate to take the appropriate action.”

Covid Watch 150: Vaxxers – The Inside Story of the Oxford Vaccine

Having published 150 blog posts on coronavirus since March 2020, and as a recipient of the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine, I was eagerly looking forward to the publication of this book. When it dropped into my Audible inbox this morning, I immediately began listening as I ploughed on with my daily business of a councillor while living in self isolation. I was not disappointed. Sarah Gilbert is Professor of Vaccinology at Oxford University. Dr Catherine Green is also at Oxford, where she is an Associate Professor in Chromosome Dynamics at the Wellcome Centre for Human Genetics. Together they tell the story of how the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine was developed in record time amid a pandemic that affected their lives as much as everyone else’s. Their message is: “We went faster because we had to.” That was despite at times feeling the strain of “an unedified mix of science, politics and emotions.”

Decent highways for Shropshire? Are you kidding?

It’s Wimbledon. Surrounded by screens I am watching a couple of games at once. John McEnroe is commenting. He is famous of course for his comments on court. “You can’t be serious man. You cannot be serious!” This came to mind because of an open letter from Steve Charmley earlier in the week. He is the deputy leader of Shropshire Council who backed a £5 million annual cut from the highways budget under Peter Nutting’s leadership. Now he has nothing but good news about highways. Our roads are to be manicured as perfectly as the lawn of Centre Court. There will be more money and better and longer lasting repairs. We have been promised this before. Shropshire Council’s leadership has rarely delivered on highways promises. Can Charmley deliver? Is he serious?

Covid Watch 149: Vote now. Is Boris Johnson right to lift coronavirus restrictions on 19 July?

“Freedom Day” has already delayed from mid-June. Last night, Boris Johnson and Sajid Javid set out plans for Step 4, England’s exit from almost all restrictions. There will be no limits on gatherings. Pubs and hospitality businesses will return to normal. People will no longer be encouraged to work from home. Face masks will not be compulsory. Rules on schools are to be announced today and international travel shortly. Is this the right move? Is now the right time to lift restrictions? Or should we wait longer before easing up? Let us know your view by voting below.

The Burford Question: How will pressure on services in Tenbury be resolved?

Last Friday, MPs, councillors and others grouped on the historic Teme Bridge between Tenbury and Burford. Richard Huffer, Shropshire Councillor for Clee and myself, joined Ludlow MP Philip Dunne and Harriet Baldwin, MP for West Worcestershire, along with representatives from south of the Teme to discuss what might becalled the “Burford Question”. Burford is planned to expand by around 170 homes. Tenbury is growing also. That’s putting pressure on services in Tenbury, including GPs and schools. In this post, Richard Huffer talks about the problem that are mounting up and what the solutions might be. Should SC transfer money from Shropshire’s community infrastructure levy fund to help improve Tenbury’s services? More radically, should Burford move into the Malvern Hills district and into Worcestershire?

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