Millionaire mayor U-turns on closing his town’s parks as he spends lockdown in his mansion with huge grounds – The Sun

A MILLIONAIRE mayor yesterday did a U-turn after he was blasted for closing his town’s parks while he spent the lockdown in his mansion.

Former hedge fund manager Andy Preston, who lives in a £4m grade-II listed pad with huge grounds, was slammed for shutting three parks in Middlesbrough, in defiance of Government advice.

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The independent mayor said the drastic action was needed to stop the spread of the virus because the town was "the most Covid-vulnerable place in the country".

But local Labour MP Andy McDonald hit out and said: “Mr Preston seems to think that he knows better than the Government and everybody else on the matter.

“People locked down in a small house with perhaps only a yard need the ability to get out of their property and into an open space.

“He enjoys the vast acres of a stately home. I think a number of our parks could fit within those grounds.

“He can enjoy that but people living in small terraced houses can’t get their lungs breathing in a pleasant environment.

“Mr Preston is stubbornly digging his heels in.

“Our local authority has all the hallmarks of a fiefdom not a council.”

Mr Preston, elected last year, defended the move because of the town’s high infection rates – 582 people have tested positive with 368 of those admitted to James Cook university hospital, according to Middlesbrough’s director of public health Mark Adams.

As of last Thursday, 139 locals had died, yet some residents continue to defy lockdown restrictions.

But he yesterday relented and reopened the parks on a trial basis from Friday.

He said: “I’m really pleased to announce that Middlesbrough’s parks are to reopen on a trial basis from this Friday – VE Day.

“I hope everyone enjoys their scenery and the fresh air.

“The time is right to do this because our staffing situation is improving, VE Day is a huge day for our country and infection levels nationally are falling and appear to be stabilising locally.

“Local and national politicians have campaigned for Middlesbrough’s parks to open for the last 6 weeks. But for the sake of people’s health I had to hold off – regardless of criticism, negativity and politics.

“The parks will be closely monitored and if people are being put in danger or there’s a spike in infections we may close the parks again – but I hope not.”


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