Fears of summer of unrest at northern lockdown hotspots: Local politicians warn that ‘growing resentment’ at restrictions and job losses could lead to riots
- Concerns growing that anger over new lockdowns could spark trouble on streets
- Councillors fearing the impact of tougher rules for people living in poorer areas
- Sage experts warn the army may have to be called in due to potential unrest
Local politicians in areas where new lockdown restrictions are in place have appealed for calm over fears that they could lead to a summer of unrest.
Concerns are increasing that a combination of factors could spark trouble over August and lead to a repeat of the riots witnessed in 2011.
These include illegal raves, job losses and deprivation in many of the northern towns and cities affected by the new restrictions.
Also of concern is the timing of the Government’s announcement on Thursday at 9.16pm, the night before Eid, which restricted the celebration of the Muslim festival and caused widespread anger within the community.
Parts of Greater Manchester such as Rochdale, pictured deserted yesterday, have seen new lockdown restrictions put in place
Under the new restrictions, residents in all of Greater Manchester, Blackburn with Darwen, Burnley, Hyndburn, Pendle, Rossendale, Bradford, Calderdale and Kirklees are now banned from mixing with any other households indoors or in a garden to reduce Covid-19 infections.
Meetings between local officials and Public Health England are taking place next week, which could lead to the imposition of even more restrictions.
A report by the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) published last month warned that the army may have to be called in because of a potential summer of unrest caused by the social and economic impact of coronavirus.
Professor Clifford Stott, a member of Sage also warned that trouble would escalate if ‘localised lockdowns’ brought tougher rules for people living in poorer areas than in affluent neighbourhoods,
Hussain Akthar, a Labour councillor in Blackburn with Darwen told MailOnline: ‘There is growing unemployment, economic uncertainty and illegal gatherings, where people have little regard for law and order.
‘Add to that a growing resentment within the Muslim community, particularly our young men, that they are being victimised by the new coronavirus situation and you have a very dangerous cocktail. It could lead to serious problems.’
Jacki Beswick, an independent councillor in Rochdale added: ‘There is a real danger of social unrest. There are a lot of factors to take into consideration and it could ignite something, which is a serious concern for us.
‘I’m hoping that young people from all communities understand that we need to pull together at a time like this. They have actually done a very good job of adapting so far and I pray that this continues. We are bracing ourselves for what could be a difficult August.’
Concerns are increasing that a combination of factors could spark trouble over August and lead to a repeat of the riots witnessed in London in 2011, pictured
Rochdale councillor Ali Ahmed said: ‘We’ve actually done a very good job as a local authority fighting coronavirus. But there is tension across the community for many different reasons.
‘Young people are alienated, there is economic despair and the Government’s timing of the new restrictions, just a day before Eid has not helped.
‘We are doing a lot of work to bring communities together but there’s no getting away from the fact that the Muslim community feels that it has been unfairly targeted. Would the Government have introduced new restrictions just a day before Christmas?’
Bradford, Burnley and Oldham suffered race riots in 2001, which were the worst to ever hit the country and caused millions of pounds in damage.
Oldham councillor Mohon Ali said: ‘The timing of the Government’s announcement is seen by the Muslim community as unjust and caused a lot of anger. This is a very sensitive issue in Oldham and I can’t speak about this any further.’