Confusion over town’s Staffordshire postcode
As new covid restrictions came into force last night (Wednesday) local politicians said they were “unravelling” what the rules meant for Alsager, with some confusion over its location.
Alsager’s ST postcode has prompted residents to ask town officials which of the new three-tier lockdowns (one: medium; two: high and three: very high) applied to the town, because just a few miles east of Alsager, over the border in Staffordshire, towns with the same postcode prefix are in the medium risk category. Alsager, however, has been placed in the high tier, along with the rest of the borough of Cheshire East.
Lib Dem Coun Rod Fletcher, the chair of Alsager Town Council, said: “There have been a lot of people asking whether the tier two lockdown applies to us because of our postcode, which is ST7, a Staffordshire postcode.
“The answer is yes, because it is divided up by council areas and we are served by Cheshire East Council.”
Coun Fletcher added: “At the moment, the officers at Cheshire East are looking through the legislation because we need to understand what we have to do before we can go further.”
When asked whether he expected Cheshire East to fall into tier two, he said: “I hadn’t a clue what would happen because central government has been such a shambles. We need better information from them. We are learning more and unravelling what it means as time goes on.”
Conservative Coun Sue Helliwell said: “We’re in the middle of a pandemic and we need to welcome any new restrictions, as long as they keep people safe. I just hope that the cases fall. For Cheshire East to come out of the tier two lockdown we need to flatten the curve.”
She added: “I hope that residents stay safe and look after themselves, their families and their loved ones, and also keep an eye on their neighbours.”
The new rules mean that Alsager residents will no longer be allowed to mix indoors with people from other households; the rule of six applies to private gardens and outdoor spaces – social distancing rules also apply; and pubs and restaurants can remain open but there is still a 10pm curfew.
It is hoped that new restrictions will prevent the further spread of the virus in the borough, which has experienced an uptick in recent days.
The leader of Cheshire East Council, Coun Sam Corcoran said that he was pleased that the new legislation granted the authority additional powers over establishments that were not complying with the rules, but said that he was “disappointed” the borough had not been consulted on the tier two restrictions.
On 22nd September, Coun Corcoran and deputy leader Coun Craig Browne had written to health secretary Matt Hancock asking for more “enforcement powers” to ensure the existing rules were in place.
Meanwhile, Alsager Community Support Centre, which helped vulnerable residents throughout the initial lockdown with their shopping and collection of prescriptions, was preparing for a new surge in requests for help.
Requests for advice at the support centre appeared to be mounting up again after the Prime Minister’s announcement on Monday (12th). A volunteer working at the helpline the day after the announcement said that they received several calls that morning.
Manager Liz Pinkney said: “We have been expecting a second wave because, like everyone else, we have been listening to the news. As things stand, there will be an increasing number of people needing support and wanting help with shopping again. We are all geared up and have got everything in place to be able to keep on top of it.”
The support centre was putting Alsager residents in touch with volunteers as soon as the first lockdown was announced back in March and was one of the first to hit the ground running.
Volunteers offered advice for those struggling and started a “befriending” service for people living in isolation.
Ms Pinkney continued: “The community support centre can remain open during this second lockdown so if anyone is needing help they can call in on Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings from 9.30am to 12.30pm. We’re letting in one person at a time, but we would encourage most people to contact us by telephone. The support line is manned from Monday to Friday by volunteers mostly working from home.
“If people have used the service before and have spoken to a particular volunteer in the past, they should call them in the first instance to see if they can resume contact. But because some of our volunteers have now gone back to work, they may not be able to do that.
“Some people may need financial advice during this time, so they can also turn to us for that. We have advice workers who are now doing face-to-face interviews with people who have concerns.”
For advice and help for those isolating, call the Alsager Community Support Centre helpline on 01270 876 605.
The support centre is also looking for more people to join the team of volunteers. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org