Conwy Council leader urges First Minister to remove 'catastrophic' local lockdown travel restrictions

Many areas in north Wales, like Conwy, rely on tourism and the ability for people outside the area to visit. Credit: ITV Wales

The leader of Conwy County Borough Council has written a letter to the First Minister asking him to remove the restriction on moving in and out of the area without reasonable excuse.

Cllr Sam Rowlands said the current travel rule is "likely" to be "catastrophic" for Conwy's local economy, potentially resulting in job losses and businesses going under.

He said he understands the need for "balanced measures" to limit the spread of coronavirus but argues that there is "no evidence" that the movement of people in the area has contributed to higher virus case numbers.

North Wales Tourism boss, Jim Jones, supported the council leader's call for a balanced approach and said that the local lockdown could have a "devastating impact" on the region's economy.

In 2018, the council report that Conwy was the most visited county in north Wales and saw more than nine million tourists come to the area.

Conwy county is one of the four local authority areas in north Wales currently under local lockdown restrictions.

Data published by Public Health Wales on Tuesday 6 October indicates that over the past week in Conwy county, 4.4% of coronavirus tests returned positive results - the lowest percentage out of the four north Wales areas in lockdown.

Conwy county has been in local lockdown since Thursday 1 October. Credit: PA Images

In the letter, Cllr Rowlands highlights the negative impact on mental health and wellbeing that could also result from a blow to Conwy county's economy. He said the restriction on travel without reasonable excuse could mean redundancies and businesses having to shut down.

He writes: "Many of my residents are now having to face this reality but you have the opportunity to change this if you choose to do so, and many of my residents are relying on you to make this change."

He goes on to say that restrictions must be evidence-based and "it is clear that there is no evidence which points to the movement of people in north Wales as a major contributing factor for the increase in cases of Covid-19."

Cllr Rowlands said the rule also ignores the "cross border" lifestyle in north Wales, giving the example of people living on the Kinmel Bay/Rhyl border who may normally travel between the two authority areas for things like food shopping.

He calls for "at the very least, a quick review" of the current local lockdown measures.

Kinmel Bay has experienced flooding in the past. Towyn and Kinmel Bay were flooded in 1990 and 2,000 homes were evacuated Credit: ITV Wales

Conwy county has a strong reliance on tourism and is home to popular seaside resorts like Llandudno and Colwyn Bay.

Parts of Snowdonia National Park are also in the county area with Betws-y-Coed often called the gateway to the park.

Places like Zipworld the Welsh Mountain Zoo and Conwy Castle all reside within the county's boundaries.

Golden Sands Holiday Park is in Kimnel Bay, just within the border of Conwy county. Credit: ITV Wales

In response to the letter, a Welsh Government spokesperson said: "We have received a letter and will respond in due course.

"Local restrictions were introduced following discussions with the local authority, public health experts, police and NHS in response to a rapid increase in cases of coronavirus in the Conwy Borough Council area. These are being kept under close review."