An INQUIRY into the county’s Covid response has been demanded by the opposition.

Gloucestershire Liberal Democrats will take a motion to next week’s council meeting, calling for an inquiry into how the county’s public bodies responded to the pandemic.

The party has taken this action amid the government’s message of ‘living with Covid’ which it says involves the withdrawal of “nearly all testing services”.

Ahead of the meeting on May 18, proposer of the motion, councillor Jeremy Hilton, said: “In a fast moving situation, it is unreasonable to expect our public bodies to get everything right.  Yet, during the pandemic, mistakes sadly cost lives.

“For example, we know that there were numerous times when people were moved from hospital to care homes without testing first – which likely led to outbreaks within these care homes.   By the end of the pandemic, barely a single care home had not seen Covid deaths.  This a long way from the promised ‘protective ring’ that was meant to keep our vulnerable loved ones safe.

“More than 1,500 people in our county have died from Covid-19.  We owe it to them and their families to learn these lessons now so we can better protect our residents from any possible pandemic that might occur in the future.”

The Liberal Democrats say that since the start of the pandemic, 1,535 people have had Covid listed on their death certificate in Gloucestershire.

This figure includes nearly 130 since the Government dropped covid restrictions in February.

Councillor Lisa Spivey, seconding the motion, added: “Previously we have been told that it’s not the right time to discuss how we performed during the pandemic – but since this Government has declared that we must learn to live with covid, it is time to learn the lessons from the past two years. 

“The first months of 2020 were extraordinary, with guidance changing daily and everyone working to the bone.  As such, this motion is not about attributing blame, but about ensuring that we are much better prepared for any future waves of Covid or future pandemics.”

Leader of the council, Mark Hawthorne, has explained that they do not have the legal power to launch such an inquiry.

As outlined in ‘The Inquiries Act 2005’, only a government minister can.

Councillor Hawthorne added: “‘We will of course be feeding into the national Covid-19 Inquiry along with all other local authorities in the UK, and have already planned structured debriefs for our teams to capture the Gloucestershire specific learning and inform how we respond to future challenges.

“This motion is an expensive and wasteful way to politicise an incredibly challenging two years. Our Public Health and Adult Social Care teams are working tirelessly on dealing with the aftermath of the pandemic and that is where the Conservative Group’s focus remains too.’”