THIS week I’ve been watching the coronavirus figures in Furness very closely.

In both Barrow and South Lakes the numbers have continued to rise.

Even though there has been the smallest of glimmers that the infection rate might have started to slow a little, it is not yet a trend, and certainly nowhere near enough. People of all ages are still becoming ill, and hospitalisations are continuing to rise.

We need to get a firmer grip to drive these numbers down.

When Barrow moved into Tier 2 last week, this brought with it additional restrictions, not least of which is the banning of mixing of households indoors. This goes against the grain and it is natural for all of us to chafe against the ask; but when we remember that the lives of those we love and care for are at stake, we know what we have to do.

This will need to be a collective effort, and we can turn the tide against this insidious disease.

It may seem the ultimate irony coming from me as a politician, but what we don’t need right now is to let the virus become political.

Recent events have risked just this, injecting division into the part of our lives where we need it least right now.

I’d like to think that we’ve shown a different way here, with local leaders from all political stripes pulling together for the good of the community. On that note, you might have seen both myself and Ann Thomson, the leader of Barrow Council, on a video, united in spelling out the risk to our community from Covid. As is so often the case, far more can be achieved through co-operation than through confrontation.

This week saw more along that same theme, as Barrow Borough Council and South Lakeland District Council received more than £650,000 to help them continue to provide vital services to our communities, including children and families in need of support, as the pandemic continues.

The funding has not been ring-fenced, meaning local leaders will be able to use their knowledge of the area to decide how best to spend it in order to protect public health and local vulnerable people, and support the running of vital services.

This means that, since the start of the pandemic, Barrow Borough Council has received £1.73m in extra direct support from Government, helping to cover its coronavirus-related costs and to support service delivery.