The ‘Dominic Cummings ‘ effect, which contributed to thousands flocking to beaches on the south coast, is piling further pressure on already strained local government finances and resources, Unite, Britain and Ireland’s largest union, said today (Friday 26 June).
Unite, which represents 100,000 local government workers, called on ministers to give councils in tourist ‘hot spot’ areas, where visitors are likely to head to the beaches and popular natural attractions, additional funding to cover the cost of the extra security, policing, enforcing parking regulations, and refuse collections that such crowds generate.
Unite blamed the peripatetic travels of Boris Johnson’s top advisor Dominic Cummings around the north east of England during the height of lockdown for contributing to the impression that the guidance to combat Covid-19 no longer applied.
Unite national officer for local government Jim Kennedy said: “The unnecessary journeys that the prime minister’s top aide Dominic Cummings undertook at the height of the lockdown has contributed to the impression that the lockdown rules can be ignored with impunity.
“Yesterday, we saw the result of the Cummings ‘effect’ with thousands of people flocking to the beaches which has put council services under renewed pressure when they are already, in some areas, at breaking point.
“There were reports of security guards being called to protect refuse workers doing their duty. We won’t tolerate abuse and violence to our members.
“Our traffic warden and car park attendant members were affected as there were two hour queues for legal car parking which resulted in illegal parking and unprecedented demands to ensure road safety.
“Unite is calling for extra government funding to councils in those areas, which are tourist ‘hot spots’, to help pay for services under pressure, such as refuse collection and security, caused by the influx of Britons taking ‘staycations’.
“Councils will also need to spend more money on publicity and marketing to say what is and isn’t allowed in their areas, and which attractions are open.
“Unite is not trying to restrict people’s enjoyment, but to be aware of the advice of England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty who has said social distancing remains vital, otherwise the rates of Covid-19 infection will rise again.”