THE Labour leader for Middlesbrough has called into question whether Mayor of Middlesbrough Andy Preston is fit for office after his comments on the local lockdown yesterday.

Yesterday (Thursday) the Health Secretary announced tighter lockdown restrictions for Middlesbrough and Hartlepool.

This means that from tomorrow it will be illegal in these areas to meet up with other households in any indoor settings, including in pubs, restaurants and bars with fines for breaches starting at £200.

In a Facebook video, Middlesbrough Mayor Andy Preston, posted yesterday: "Right now I do not accept the government’s intended restrictions because they are based on ignorance.

"I don't accept the measures, we need to talk to the government. They need to understand our local knowledge, expertise and ability to get things done and preserve jobs and well-being.

“We’re really disappointed as things stand we defy the government and we do not accept these measures. We need to get Covid under control and we need to work with people to find a way of preserving jobs and mental health.”

Reacting to the post Councillor Matthew Storey, Leader of the Labour Group in Middlesbrough, said today: "It's been twenty four hours since the Health Secretary announced a local lockdown in Middlesbrough and it is still unclear what is exactly happening on Saturday 3 October. While the Government's communication with the Council has been shoddy at best - and I have supported the Mayor about this - the Mayor's own comments yesterday have only added to this confusion. 

"The Council needs to get a grip on the communication on this because right now I have people contacting me who do not have a clue what is going on.  

"Furthermore, the Mayor has displayed shocking recklessness by saying the Council will "defy the Government", only to then state the Council will "100% conform" later on in the day. If there is chaos, confusion, or defiance of the rules on Saturday - putting pressure on our police and NHS - the Mayor will have shoulder some of the blame. 

"I’m afraid his comments make me question whether Andy Preston is fit for office. His rash comments yesterday could put people’s health at risk and make it harder to control this deadly virus."