SEVERAL of Dorset's Conservative MPs have spoken out in disappointment and opposition to the government's decision to put the county in Tier 2 coronavirus restrictions.

From the end of the second national lockdown in England next week, both BCP and Dorset Council areas are set to be subject to the High Alert level having previously been in Tier 1.

Bournemouth East MP Tobias Ellwood, Christchurch MP Sir Christopher Chope have all confirmed to the Daily Echo that they will not be supporting the Government's legislation on the tiers and winter Covid plan when it comes before Parliament on Tuesday, December 1.

Detailed below are the comments of the county's politicians following the tier announcement this morning.

Tobias Ellwood - Bournemouth East MP

“My concern is that the data that is being used to make a judgement on where we go next week was collated last week, therefore it is not a true reflection of the situation in Dorset.

“The government could have used more up to date statistics to provide a more accurate picture of the real situation in Bournemouth and wider Dorset.

“I raised this with a minister yesterday. The decision was made last night at a gold command meeting and they were looking at data from seven days and 14 days ago for an event which is going to begin a week from now.

“It is deeply frustrating. I know you need a couple of days to prepare but it is different. You are not preparing for further lockdown measures, you are preparing, if anything, to ease, therefore that is always easier to do. You need a little bit of head time to prepare but it is much easier to open up than it is to close down at short notice.

“I will be joining Robert Syms and other colleagues who will not be supporting this legislation when it is presented to Parliament next week."

Bournemouth Echo: Bournemouth East MP Tobias EllwoodBournemouth East MP Tobias Ellwood

He added: “The trend is we were at 250 cases per 100,000, we’re now down to 160 per 100,000. In Dorset it is already around 60. It is going in the right direction.

“If it was going the other way, I could quite understand why they would make these judgements but ultimately it is going to impact on our economy, especially hospitality.

“We have a duty to tackle the pandemic but there is also a requirement to retain our economy for when we are out of the woods. With a vaccine coming over the horizon soon, then how do we manage this next six months? That is the big question for Government and I am sorry but, particularly in the lead up to Christmas which is a crucial time of the year for the hospitality and retail sector in particular, I do feel the failure to use more up to date data is a major error by this Government.”

“I am concerned about it. They have got a whole set of criteria but there is clearly a lot of ambiguity and a lot of subjectivity in the decision making. I wasn’t consulted. I understand BCP Council weren’t consulted either.

“We have gone from the opening of the tier structures which spilled over into public discussion with various mayors of Metropolitan areas to this time around there was no dialogue with civil authorities other than those on the medical side.

“Once again, we are left with a situation whereby we have got MPs with no experience managing enduring emergencies making huge strategic decisions for which they have never had training for.”

Sir Christopher Chope - Christchurch MP

“It is not just disappointing, I think this is a disaster because it is arbitrary, it is unfair and it is going to be counter-productive in my view because people won’t be able to understand the rationale for it as there isn’t one.

“Why have we got such high infection rates in BCP? Because of the outbreak in Poole and to a lesser extent Bournemouth hospital.

“In Poole Hospital a large number of people, about 70 of the 120 cases they had in the whole of October, people were infected there having been in hospital for a long time, so they were the subject of internal infection within hospital rather than from community transmission.

“I made this point yesterday to the health minister on a call and she got very defensive about it, suggesting within hospital transmission is just something we have to put up with.

“But if you are going to try and judge whether or not a restaurant or a pub can stay open on the basis of community transmission, then you should be excluding the cases of transmission within hospitals or care homes caused a failure to take the necessary precautions.”

Bournemouth Echo: Christchurch MP Sir Christopher ChopeChristchurch MP Sir Christopher Chope

On a lack of consultation, he added: “I am afraid it is par for the course. We have been here for the last six months and that is why I’m increasingly opposed to this whole business.

“I went along with the original lockdown back in March because I thought there was a case for saying that because we were so badly prepared, we must not allow hospitals to be overwhelmed.

“Well, they weren’t overwhelmed and since then the Government has been captured by a single-issue pressure group, which is talking about Covid rather than about the wider issues of the damage to people’s health from not being able to get treated for other conditions, from consequences of unemployment and not being able to work, which are well known, and all the other damage that is being done to the economy, which was highlighted yesterday.”

“I am certainly vote again against these restrictions and I know that when I do that I will have a lot of support from my constituents because they are absolutely exasperated by this.”

Sir Robert Syms - Poole MP

“I think we are in the wrong tier. BCP has a higher infection rate but that is partly because of the universities and some of the hospitals have had outbreaks.

“We are now falling quite rapidly. We have fallen from 250 (cases per 100,000 people) to 160 over the past 10 days and I think we are likely to be down around 100 in about a week.

“Rural Dorset is around 60 cases per 100,000 and so if you are looking at both of us combined we are pretty low.

“There are five criteria the health secretary talked about and hospitals aren’t under particularly great pressure at the moment, they don’t have that many in ICU, so I can’t see any reason why we are in this particular tier.

“The greater Bournemouth area makes its living from hospitality, from bars, from people coming in. They are already in deep trouble and, even though they have been given government help, if we have restrictions for another week, two weeks, another three months, many of these are going to go out of business, causing lost jobs.

Bournemouth Echo: Poole MP Sir Robert SymsPoole MP Sir Robert Syms

“I think the Government has got this wrong. My view is quite simple. I will vote against next Tuesday and I hope we can persuade the Government to put us into Tier 1 ASAP but I am not hopeful because I think they are being far to cautious in Public Health England and Department of Health and Social Care, while doing great damage to local business.”

He added: “We peaked about 10 days at 250 and we are already down to 160 – that is a big fall. There is five or six days before the change occurs. It seems to me you could say provisionally we are going to put you into Tier 2 but if the data shows you have dropped in the next six days, we’ll put you in a lower tier but they haven’t said that.

“It looks like we are fixed in Tier 2 for two weeks and that’s two weeks in the Christmas season when wet bars and pubs can’t open and I think that is going to have a dreadful effect on businesses.

“People put their heart and soul into many of these businesses and that is what makes Dorset a great place for people to come on holiday and to visit. It is going to hit an important part of our economy and I think the Government has got the balance wrong. Covid is a difficult issue and clearly there are matters for judgement but in my judgement I think the Government is too heavy-handed and I think the impact on business is disproportionate.”

Conor Burns - Bournemouth West MP

Posting on his Twitter account, Mr Burns said: "I am hugely disappointed that Bournemouth has been placed in Tier 2 and do not see how it is justified by any robust evidence or modeling.

Bournemouth Echo: Bournemouth West MP Conor BurnsBournemouth West MP Conor Burns

"Local hospitality businesses have gone above and beyond to make their operations safe. I will work tirelessly in the coming days to make the case that we should be moved into Tier 1 without delay. These businesses are the bedrock of a free economy whose taxes will be essential to build back our country when this is over.

"We must safely reopen our economy. As I've said before following the science is not the same thing as following three individual scientists. To retain public confidence the basis of the modelling on which decisions are being taken must be published."

He later added: "Question from a constituent that I'm struggling to answer: how can you end a four-week lockdown in a worse place in terms of restrictions than before it?"

Read more: Full list of every area in England by Covid tier

Michael Tomlinson - Mid Dorset and North Poole MP

"I don’t think anyone wants Dorset and Poole to be in Tier 2. I would prefer both to be in Tier 1. But equally no one wants or wanted Covid and these restrictions are necessary to protect and safe lives - especially with the prospect of a vaccine.

"The policy of putting local areas into a higher tier in order to keep driving down the infection rate makes sense as do the measures for Christmas. Likewise it makes sense for Dorset and BCP Local Authority areas to be treated as one.

Bournemouth Echo: Mid Dorset and North Poole MP Michael TomlinsonMid Dorset and North Poole MP Michael Tomlinson

"I look forward to the time when there are no more restrictions on any of our lives. That time is coming, and there is welcome hope for Christmas and the New Year. But that time is not upon us yet."

Mr Tomlinson confirmed to the Daily Echo he is intending to support the Government legislation next week.

Simon Hoare - North Dorset MP

"I think it is understandable if you are going to look at it on a county-wide basis and as we have hospitals that serve all parts of the county, as we have one clinical commissioning group, it is not ideal but it is understandable.

“All tiering is going to be reviewed at least weekly and that will start 14 days after the second of December.

Bournemouth Echo: North Dorset MP Simon HoareNorth Dorset MP Simon Hoare (Image: PA)

“The whole situation is regrettable but if our public health experts are saying that it is necessary then we need to do it.

“What I would say to all of us who live in Dorset and are customers of business and service providers is the more that we can follow the rules, the better chance we have to move into Tier 1 and for business to return to what they would define as being greater normality. We all have a part to play in this. People can kick back against the rules and say I am going to ignore them, this is outrageous and this is a terrible infringement on my civil liberties and we will just find we have to continue.

“It is now within our gift to make that significant difference by following the rules at what is going to be a challenging period. The usual expectations of social engagement over Christmas and shopping needs and all the rest of it.

“It is going to be a challenge for all of us, let’s make no bones about that. It still strikes me as being necessary and if we all stick to it we can get into Tier 1 in a speedy way.”

Mr Hoare also told the Daily Echo he will be voting with the Government on the legislation "motivated by a commitment to public health".