Burnham set for discussions with Sturgeon over travel ban row

Scotland’s First Minister imposed a ban on all non-essential travel to Manchester and Salford on Friday, adding to a pre-existing ban on Bolton.

Andy Burnham
Andy Burnham

Peace may be about to break out between Scotland and Manchester after a war of words over a travel ban to the English region.

Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester, said he will be in discussion with Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon on Wednesday to discuss the ban.

A ban on all non-essential travel to Manchester and Salford, adding to a pre-existing ban on Bolton, was announced by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon on Friday – to the surprise of Mr Burnham, who had no warning of the move, and criticised it as disproportionate.

The First Minister then suggested Mr Burnham was seeking to “generate a spat” to position himself in a future Labour leadership contest.

At a press conference on Tuesday, Mr Burnham told reporters he was seeking a “political route” out of the dispute.

He said: “I anticipate having the opportunity to discuss it with the First Minister tomorrow and obviously we will want clarity on elements of the policy that are currently unclear to us in terms of the criteria that are being used here, the exit strategy, the process for lifting the restrictions on the boroughs affected.

“We just want to seek resolution and a better way of doing things going forward.

“The political route is the route to pursue.

Nicola Sturgeon
First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon (Jeff J Mitchell/PA)

“That’s obviously what we would seek to do. To put in place better dialogue, better lines of communication, which clearly aren’t there at the moment.”

Bolton currently has a Covid-19 case rate of 250 per 100,000 population, while Dundee’s rate is over 300.

Mr Burnham said his office had received more than 50 emails about the ban and cited one person due to marry at Gretna Green in early July and tour Scotland on honeymoon having had to cancel, and a family due to visit north of the border to scatter the ashes of a loved one also shelving their plans.

Mr Burnham also said one hotel in Greater Manchester had reported the loss of 200 room nights.

He has asked for compensation for those affected by the ban.

The First Minister has said she has a duty to keep Scotland safe by taking necessary public health measures.

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