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Leeds council ‘fully expected’ city to be on coronavirus watchlist

City council leader Judith Blake said there had been an increase in house parties.

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Leader of Leeds City Council Judith Blake (Dave Higgens/PA)

Leader of Leeds City Council Judith Blake (Dave Higgens/PA)

Leader of Leeds City Council Judith Blake (Dave Higgens/PA)

Seven £10,000 fines have been issued to illegal rave organisers in Leeds, the city’s council leader has said.

Judith Blake said she had “fully expected” the city to be placed on the Government’s coronavirus watchlist following a recent rise in cases.

And she urged young people to “recognise their own responsibility” in controlling the spread of the virus following reports of an increase in house parties in the city.

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Leeds has been added to the Government’s watchlist following a spike in cases (Simon Dawson)

Leeds has been added to the Government’s watchlist following a spike in cases (Simon Dawson)

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Leeds has been added to the Government’s watchlist following a spike in cases (Simon Dawson)

Ms Blake told BBC Breakfast on Saturday: “We have been monitoring our number every single day and we recognise that the numbers have been creeping up, so we fully expected to be on the list to become an area of concern.

“We feel there is a bit of a complacency coming in. What we are seeing is the numbers are changing, and actually more young people are testing positive and they are spread around the city.

“So whereas we were focusing more on specific communities at the beginning, it is now clear the pattern is changing.”

Leeds, along with South Tyneside, Corby, Middlesbrough and Kettering, have been placed on the Government’s “areas of concern” watchlist following a spike in Covid-19 cases.

Ms Blake said the council was working closely with the city’s universities ahead of students returning, adding that additional testing was being considered.

She said the council was also urging young people to “recognise their own responsibility” in helping to reduce the spread of the virus.

“Unfortunately we have seen a rise in house parties, but we are working with police,” Ms Blake said.

“Last weekend we issued, with the police, seven of the £10,000 fines for organisers of illegal raves.”

The fines are part of newly introduced legislation aimed at deterring illegal music events.

While organisers can be hit with £10,000 fines, people not wearing masks and participants in unlawful gatherings can be fined starting at £100, doubling for each repeat offence up to a maximum of £3,200.

PA