Brent Council leader slams lockdown breaches but blames ‘confusing’ goverment messages

Cllr Muhammed Butt, Leader of Brent Council. Picture: Francis Henry

Cllr Muhammed Butt, Leader of Brent Council. Picture: Francis Henry - Credit: Archant

The leader of Brent Council said people breaking lockdown laws was “not unexpected” but blamed incidents on “confusing” messages from the Government.

Cllr Muhammed Butt said a lack of clarity from Whitehall around lockdown measures meant people were unsure about what they could and could not do.

It came after Cllr Ihtesham Afzal, at a community and wellbeing scrutiny committee meeting on July 21, pointed out that, despite the council’s best efforts, there were cases of people ignoring social distancing, attending block parties, and using outdoor gyms during lockdown.

Cllr Butt criticised any blatant disregard of social distancing guidance, which he said was “not acceptable and heightened risk”, but suggested people had been put in a “difficult situation”.

READ MORE: Brent Labour councillors attend prayer meeting during lockdown

He said: “This came at a point in time when people felt as if they needed space. “When you’re stuck inside, your normal routine disappears and that can affect your mental health and wellbeing.

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“People were expressing those things and, while we might have found them alarming, they weren’t unexpected.”

He added that people were bound to feel “restless and frustrated after so many weeks of lockdown”, particularly when they were receiving “confusing” national messages about the situation.

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His view was similar to comments made by Brent Central MP Dawn Butler following a block party in Harlesden in June, which came after revelations about senior government advisor Dominic Cummings’ trip to Durham despite rules requiring people to stay at home. At the time, Ms Butler said: “For something that started at around 30 people and ended up with around 500 people, I was stunned but, upon reflection, not too shocked.

“Recent reports in regard to how the Prime Minister’s chief adviser Dominic Cummings blatantly broke the rules whilst he was suspected to be infected with the coronavirus, and has been protected by the Government, has irked a lot of people – myself included. “A government that is morally bankrupt when it comes to following their own rules lacks any moral authority to tell people what to do.”

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