THIS week has seen a new level of political drama. The scenes from Manchester are as good as anything the BBC can put out on a Sunday evening.

The story line to the many TV appearances of Manchester Metro Mayor Andy Burnham is that the government is trying to tackle Covid by delivering local measures.

The theory is fair enough. Nottingham’s infection rate is 689 per hundred thousand of population, whilst Cornwall’s is just 24. So why, goes the narrative, should Cornwall be locked down because Nottingham can’t control its infection rates?

Andy Burnham is doing what would be expected of any metro mayor: he is standing up for his community. And so he should. I would expect our local metro mayor – Andy Street in Birmingham – to do likewise in the vast majority of cases.

Andy Burnham’s argument is that shutting down an economy results in severe hardship for those whose livelihoods will be affected. He is absolutely right. That is why the government brought in the world’s most progressive support scheme at the start of the lockdown.

What was extraordinary, however, is that he entered into a negotiating position by refusing to lockdown his city region whilst he held out for more money.

As he held fast, his hospitals were seeing more Covid patients admitted. Whilst he refused to lock down, infection rates went up.

In holding out for livelihoods, he put lives at risk – the absolute core of the political lives versus livelihood debate.

Not only that, he created TV drama with a press conference where he was supposedly receiving updates via text. It now turns out that this was a sham, after being told of the offer available to him (just under 8 per cent less than he was asking for) several hours earlier.

I strongly believe in devolution. I strongly support the idea of local determination on a wide range of areas – including public health. But with devolution comes responsibility.

Metro mayors are as much responsible for local crises as they are for the solution and support.

Andy Burnham’s actions leading up to the tier three lockdown are, to a certain extent, responsible for local infection rates. His negotiating stance can only have had a worsening effect.

And this increase potentially puts us, here in Wyre Forest, at risk from infection and the resultant worry of a tier three lockdown.