THE chair of Warrington Conservatives has been accused of trying to create a ‘false division’ between Labour MP Charlotte Nichols and the council.

Tory Wendy Maisey OBE is asking Ms Nichols, who holds the seat for Warrington North, to ‘come clean’ on Covid-19 discussions between senior figures in the town and Westminster ahead of the latest restrictions.

Speaking in the House of Commons on Tuesday, Ms Nichols said there was ‘absolutely none’ of the ‘promised engagement’.

But Ms Maisey – who stood in Warrington North in last year’s general election – says council leader Cllr Russ Bowden recounted a different version of events in the public broadcast on coronavirus on Wednesday.

The Labour politician told residents it’s important to recognise that there has been engagement with the Government and ‘they do listen to us’.

Meanwhile, in the House of Commons Ms Nichols said: “Increasingly, it feels like the north is being treated as an afterthought, with decisions taken by people in Whitehall who could not even point to Warrington on a map.

“We had absolutely none of the promised engagement over the weekend with our local authority and there was a concerted push to make us subject to tier three restrictions of the Liverpool City region, despite not being a part of those conversations or, indeed, of the Liverpool City region.”

But Ms Maisey says it is time for Ms Nichols to ‘come clean’ with constituents and the House of Commons.

“We simply can’t have a situation where the MP is saying one thing and the council another on an important issue like Covid,” she added.

Warrington Guardian:

Town Hall

“The leader of the council confirmed engagement with the Government, yet the MP said that there had been none of the promised engagement.

“The time has come for Ms Nichols to work with the council for the benefit of residents in Warrington.”

But Ms Nichols and Cllr Bowden have dismissed the comments.

“It’s disappointing to see Wendy trying to score cheap points like this in an attempt to create a false division between myself and the council, on an issue she knows nothing about,” said Ms Nichols.

“I work closely with the council on a range of issues including the response to Covid and what I said in the chamber is a matter of fact – while the Government were busy engaging with the Liverpool City Region over the weekend, there was no engagement with Warrington Borough Council until Monday morning.

“It’s a transparent attempt to deflect attention from the shambolic way her own party in Government has handled this crisis and is frankly pathetic.”

Cllr Bowden, who is an associate member of the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority, moved to outline the latest discussions with the Government.

The Town Hall boss says he works closely with the Warrington North MP – as residents would expect – and that her statement earlier this week is ‘entirely accurate’.

“This is a shallow attempt to try and claim a divide where one doesn’t exist, purely as a diversion from the Government’s shoddy handling of the Covid-19 crisis,” said Cllr Bowden.

“I participated in a meeting with No 10 on Friday afternoon, along with other regional leaders.

“This was a general meeting to discuss the situation in the north west at which I stated the council’s position that it wanted to be considered on its own situation rather than within a larger regional group.

“There were no further discussions with Government until Monday afternoon at which it was confirmed that Warrington would be placed in tier two.”

“We have got a very serious job to do here in Warrington, managing this crisis and ensuring that we do our utmost to protect the local economy and jobs.

“It is surprising to see others engaging in childish games like this – they really should have better things to do.”