Altrincham: A town disappointed to be heading into Tier 3

Altringham will be heading into tier 3.
Altringham will be heading into Tier 3. Credit: ITV News

Eight miles southwest of Manchester city centre sits the picturesque Altrincham market. The high ceiling, the beams, signs hanging from the roof, it’s easy to see why this market is usually so popular.  

It’s December and in any normal year it would be rammed with people preparing for the festive period but instead of punters today the market was filled with signs warning about social distancing and explaining new shopping systems.  

Although there was a sense that Christmas is round the corner, with a handful of strips of tinsel decorating some of the stalls, the usual sense of festive joy was overpowered with the pessimistic mood.

Like most of Greater Manchester, having faced four months of the most severe restrictions, from December 2nd, Altrincham will be in Tier 3 and those who work in the market were from happy.  

Nick Johnson, who is one of the directors of the market, told me that business was 85% to 90% down this year and it was getting to a point where many who run the stalls are wondering how long they can continue for. 

He argues that Tier 3 could be the final nail in the coffin, proclaiming “Tier 3 you can’t survive, you have no income… [but] Tier 2 is survivable.”

Wanting and believing Altrincham should be in Tier 2 was a common theme with the vast majority of people we spoke to, with case rates in Trafford lower than anywhere else in the city region (190 cases per 100,000), many residents feel hard done by. 

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One woman, who was out to visiting the market told me: “I don’t understand why some areas are put into Tier 2 while others in tier three. It seems a bit irregular and no one gets it really.” 

Another said she was concerned about the impact on local trade but understood it had to be done: "Even if we just do it for a couple of weeks, perhaps it would help, but I do feel sorry for people [working]."

Part of the rationale behind placing the town in Tier 3 is because of the rates in Greater Manchester on the whole and the pressure on local NHS services as a result.

Altringham's market has been open during lockdown, providing people with essential food items. Credit: ITV News

The local MP is Sir Graham Brady, the influential Tory backbenchers who chairs the 1922 committee – he has been a vocal opponent of the tiered system and in the Commons, as MPs debated the government’s tiered system, the MP for Altrincham and Sale West said he could not support it.

“If the Government are to take away fundamental liberties from the people whom we represent, they must demonstrate beyond question that they are acting in a way that is both proportionate and absolutely necessary,” Sir Graham said in the chamber.

“Today, I believe the government have failed to make that compelling case.” 

Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the 1922 Committee of Tory backbenchers Credit: Victoria Jones/PA

He was one of 53 Tory MPs to vote against the proposals, which passed through the Commons by 291 to 78 (Labour abstained).

A government spokesman welcomed the result and said it would “help to safeguard the gains made during the past month and keep the virus under control.’

"We will continue to work with MPs who have expressed concerns in recent days.”

For those in Altrincham however, they’ll be hoping that their area can move into Tier 2 at the earliest possible opportunity.