Leicester’s mayor has criticised the government for only recently providing data that he claims could have prevented the city’s lockdown “ever being necessary”.
Sir Peter Soulsby told Sky News’ Kay Burley @ Breakfast show that he felt “angry and frustrated”.
The government is set to review added restrictions imposed on Leicester – which has witnessed the UK’s first full local coronavirus lockdown – later on Thursday.
Shops and schools in Leicester have been forced to close again, while the reopening of pubs and restaurants did not take place in the city in line with the rest of England earlier this month.
Sir Peter said he did not expect to be informed of the results of the government’s review until it is publicly announced.
“It will be a political decision that will take us out, the same way it was a political decision that brought us into lockdown,” he said.
“I’m just very angry and frustrated because we’ve now, well into the lockdown, begun to get some data from the government that actually shows where the virus is and where it isn’t in the city.
“We’ve been asking for this for weeks.”
He said the data shows the infections are mostly “in perhaps some 10% of neighbourhoods of the city and the remaining 90% is very largely free of it,” he added.
“If we had this before, we could have used it to intervene – as Blackburn and other places are using it to intervene now – with those neighbourhoods to prevent the lockdown ever being necessary.”
Sir Peter said the 10% of Leicester’s neighbourhoods where COVID-19 infections are high had been joined by a “very angry and very frustrated 90%”.
There have been claims that clothing factories in Leicester, many of whom supply major online retailers, risked spreading COVID-19 by failing to implement additional hygiene or social distancing measures during the pandemic.
There have also been allegations that some factories told staff to continue to go into work despite being ill.
In addition, specialist National Crime Agency officers and Leicestershire Police have visited a number of businesses recently to investigate allegations of modern slavery and human trafficking.
But Sir Peter told Sky News there is “no evidence whatsoever” to show coronavirus was being transmitted in clothing factories.
“There’s nothing in the data that suggests it is transmitting in places of work,” he said.
“There are issues with those particular places of work, but they are quite separate to this and ones that need to be tackled and have needed to be tackled for some four or five years while we’ve been asking the government to take the issue seriously.
“What we have got now is data that shows precisely in the city where the issues with the virus are and that’s where we should have been able to intervene many weeks ago, if we’d had that data at a proper time.”