By Chris Young Local Democracy Reporter
Bradford Council has defended spending over £88,000 sending a letter explaining the November national lockdown to every household in the district.
Conservative Councillors had questioned the reasoning behind sending a letter out in early November informing households of the imminent second lockdown.
They argued that the letter, informing people of the restrictions and sent to almost 220,000 households, contained no new information.
But Bradford Council Leader Susan Hinchcliffe claimed it would be a “dereliction of duty” for the Council to not have provided all the District’s residents with the same information about lockdown, arguing that is how health inequalities are created.
At a full Council meeting this month Cllr Hinchcliffe argued that not everyone in the District had access to the internet and other means that provided information on lockdown rules and where to go locally for help.
Before the online full Council meeting on Tuesday, Councillor Geoff Winnard (Cons, Bingley) had asked: “Could the Leader of the Council confirm the overall cost of postage and the printing of the recent letter that was distributed to all households, about the nationally determined Covid-19 lockdown restrictions?”
A response sent to him before the meeting said: “The total cost for design, print, enveloping and postage of the letter sent to just under 220,000 households was £88,668.”
In late October the Government announced that Bradford, along with the rest of West Yorkshire, would go into Tier 3 on Monday November 2.
However, just days before the new restrictions were due to be introduced, the Government announced that instead, the entire country would go into a second lockdown on November 5 instead, with the Tier system re-introduced in early December.
Once the national lockdown ended, West Yorkshire was placed into Tier 3, where it remains.
At Tuesday’s meeting, which was also live-streamed, Cllr Winnard asked a follow up question. He said: “Some Bingley residents have questioned whether the cost of sending a letter to 220,000 households that included no new information was good value for money. What was the rationale for sending this letter and what was it intending to achieve?”
Cllr Hinchcliffe said: “It was sent out after the government thoroughly confused the Bradford District by saying it was going to enter Tier 3, then just a few days before that happened announcing there would be no Tier 3 but a national lockdown instead.
“There was a lack of clear information, and to residents of our District, where they stood wasn’t clear after that faux pas from the Government.
“Not every house has access to the internet, Twitter, Facebook and emails.
“As a Council we had to make sure that we use all means at our disposal to make sure people feel safe and know what number to ring if they need help. It would be a dereliction of our duty to them if we didn’t cover all bases.
“It is important that everyone had access to the same information, if they didn’t then that is how health inequalities become entrenched.
“I’m sure some of the people who contacted you were fully briefed on the news, but we have to keep all people up to date.”