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Stratford-upon-Avon: Why are WE paying the price in Tier Three?

Hever in Kent was in Tier One before the country was plunged into lockdown. But despite having under three cases in the last week, it will re-emerge in Tier Three. Duncan Leslie, chief executive of Hever Castle (above), Anne Boleyn’s childhood home, said the decision was particularly ‘galling’ when infection rates are higher in neighbouring villages in Surrey and Sussex which are in Tier Two

Hever in Kent was in Tier One before the country was plunged into lockdown. But despite having under three cases in the last week, it will re-emerge in Tier Three.

Laura Palmer, of Hever Residents’ Association, said the decision was a blow for a village so small that it has no shops or pavements where residents could catch the virus from each other.

Duncan Leslie, chief executive of Hever Castle, Anne Boleyn’s childhood home, said the decision was particularly ‘galling’ when infection rates are higher in neighbouring villages in Surrey and Sussex which are in Tier Two.

Mr Leslie, 51, warned the castle, pictured – a huge tourist attraction which employs many villagers – will make a seven-figure loss this year.

Meanwhile, David Brant, landlord of the King Henry VIII pub, said: ‘All you can do is plan for it to be Tier One or Two, then when it’s Tier Three it’s horrible because you plan for the best case.’

Mr Brant, 40, added that his diary was ‘rammed’ with Christmas bookings that will now have to be cancelled.

Tarka the Otter town dead in the water

Great Torrington isn’t just the setting for children’s classic Tarka the Otter. The north Devon market town has also been hailed as the healthiest place in Britain.

A study last year praised its low levels of pollution and good access to NHS services. A lot has changed since then, of course – but Great Torrington, pictured, remains in relatively good health.

For most of this year there have been fewer than three cases of coronavirus there each week. That number rose to six in the second week of November, then dropped to five in the third week, for a rate of just 83 infections per 100,000.

Despite these encouraging figures, residents who have faithfully complied with two national lockdowns find themselves marooned in Tier Two. This means friends cannot meet indoors, and pubs must stay shut unless they serve meals.

Waitress Keeley Allin fears for her job at the Market Cafe. ‘We’re not going to be allowed to serve mixed households indoors. A lot of our trade is based on that. We will be open next week but we really have no idea how many customers we’ll get.’ The 24-year-old – who also happens to be the town’s mayor – warned that pubs would suffer the most. ‘Some will remain closed and you do wonder whether they will ever reopen… it’s very sad.’

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Brian and Vicky Conrad, who set up their own guitar shop three months ago, fear Tier Two status will put off customers from travelling into the town centre.

‘All this time we’ve earned nothing,’ Mr Conrad said. ‘Big online retailers have scooped everything up and I fear this latest blow will destroy us.’

Mr Conrad, 51, decided to try selling guitars after the pandemic brought his career as an IT consultant to an abrupt end in March. ‘We’ve had a reasonable grant from the Government,’ he said. ‘It has kept us going through what should have been our best trading period. But we are now suffering the fallout because the Government didn’t respond properly in the first place.’

Mrs Conrad, 49, said: ‘It is just so sad. We felt we’d done everything right and were trying to find a new way to make a living. Now we are dead in the water.’

The market town of Bourne had been living under the relative freedom of Tier One restrictions before the second lockdown

The market town of Bourne had been living under the relative freedom of Tier One restrictions before the second lockdown

The Bourne absurdity

The market town of Bourne had been living under the relative freedom of Tier One restrictions before the second lockdown.

And its population of around 14,000 saw only 21 new coronavirus cases last week.

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But business owners and councillors in the Lincolnshire town were left horrified by the news that they will be moving into Tier Three next month.

The area, pictured above, is known for its natural springs and agriculture. It faces the same measures as the rest of the county which has high case numbers in the north.

However, Bourne locals point out they are just a few miles from Peterborough which has higher infection numbers per 100,000 yet will be in Tier Two when the country escapes lockdown.

Town councillor Brenda Johnson said: ‘Bourne is going to suffer for this, it’s absolutely crazy.’

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