By Bill Heaney
Jackie Baillie, MSP for Dumbarton Constituency, pictured left, has asked the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to explain the basis for placing West Dunbartonshire into tier four of COVID-19 restrictions after being contacted by local constituents.
This follows published data which shows that in the week prior to West Dunbartonshire being moved to tier four, the area experienced a 35% decrease in the number of positive cases.
In the week before 20 November, the drop was a significant 25% which was much greater than the drop across Scotland as a whole—at the time, the Scotland-wide drop was just 9%.
Over the same time frame, Alloa and Clackmannanshire local authority saw an increase in positive cases of 64% – yet the area was kept in tier three.
Jackie Baillie said that, given the extent to which tier four restrictions so negatively impacts on the day to day lives of local people – and businesses abilities to survive – a detailed explanation as to why West Dunbartonshire is in tier four is needed.
Jackie Baillie MSP said: “Tier four restrictions are having a devastating impact on almost every aspect of our local community.
“Peoples’ mental health and well-being are taking a huge knock, businesses are struggling to make ends meet, and families and loved ones are going weeks without any interaction.
Life is being drained out of businesses in Dumbarton and Vale of Leven. Top Picture by Turkey Red Media of Bonhill Bridge, Alexandria and Bonhill.
“Local people want to understand why the decision was taken to put the area into tier four, when other areas with worse COVID-19 figures are given lesser restrictions.
“This reduction in the number of positive cases in West Dunbartonshire is very welcome and down to the hard work and dedication of local people in sticking to the rules however disruptive they may be.
“I encourage everyone to continue to follow all the advice and guidance – it is there to keep both us safe, and to protect the most vulnerable in our community.
“Hopefully when the position is reviewed by the First Minister we may see a reduction in restrictions in West Dunbartonshire as our figures are going the right way.”
Nicola Sturgeon told Ms Baillie who represents Dumbarton, Helensburgh, Vale of Leven and the Lochside: “Those are perfectly legitimate questions. As I have tried—and will continue to try—to explain to the best of my ability, when we make these decisions, we take account of the indicators that we set out publicly, which are about case numbers, test positivity and pressure on hospital and intensive care unit services.
“We also have to make judgments about the direction of travel: whether the position in a particular area is coming down fast enough and whether it remains significantly above the national average. It was a judgment about that balance of factors that led to the area that Jackie Baillie’s constituency is in being put into level 4.
“We have said that the level 4 restrictions will end on 11 December, and that remains the case.
“Between now and then, we will be looking at the particular circumstances in West Dunbartonshire.
“My apologies; I do not have the West Dunbartonshire figures in front of me, but I will get the most up-to-date figures later today. Certainly, until very recently, they were above the national average.
“We will look at the direction of travel as we make decisions about what level each area will go into after 11 December. That is a process of consideration not just for West Dunbartonshire but for all those 11 council areas that will be under way for the next couple of weeks.”