SOUTHEND’S council leader insists it was right to remain in a lower tier of coronavirus restrictions before lockdown despite a surge in the town’s infection rate.

Ian Gilbert, leader of Southend council, is confident his decision to keep the town in tier one of restrictions was right - despite new data revealing a 33 per cent rise.

He told the Echo tier two restrictions, which include a ban on household mixing, was having “minimal impact” across the rest of Essex.

But Mr Gilbert fears Southend may be forced into tier two because infection rates in Basildon and Castle Point are higher, with hospital services a “priority.”

He said: “There is a lack of evidence to show that tier two is having more of an impact. Some areas in Essex have lowered their rates, where some have increased.

“Cases and infection rates are coming down, but we’re so close to the peak it’s difficult to predict the outcome.

“The decision to move Southend into tier two is a Government one, and will be because of the places around us.

“We are bordered by Essex County Council, but are served by the hospitals and hospital trust.

“Pressure on hospital services is a measurement the Government use, and if keeping Southend in tier one means more pressure, we may be put into tier two.

“If we are moved in with everyone elsewhere despite our figures being lower, it will be frustrating.”

The surge in Southend’s infection rate from November 7 to 15, was attributed to Halloween, “the rush to beat lockdown”, and half term, according to the director of

public health, Krishna Ramkhelawon.

There has since been signs the infection rate is decreasing.

As part of a report, set to be put to councillors on December 2, it also reveals there has been 2,300 positive cases since the pandemic began.

The report states Southend’s infection rate since October

26 was highest at 181 per 100,000.