What West Sussex thinks about the Government’s handling of the second wave

Rising coronavirus cases and the Government’s proposals for how to stem the ‘second wave’ feature highly in West Sussex residents’ current concerns.

Wednesday, 14th October 2020, 3:54 pm

JPIMedia, publisher of this newspaper, canvassed the opinions of thousands across the country and our county in a survey for The Big Conversation: a campaign to find out what people wanted their community to look like after the pandemic.

With lockdowns tightening across the country and the second wave of Covid-19 seemingly upon us, there were justifiable concerns.

At the time the survey was published last month, 59.3 per cent and 61.12 per cent of county and national survey results respectively showed residents were ‘very concerned’ about the impact of a potential second wave of coronavirus in the coming months.

Boris Johnson addressing the nation about the coronavirus pandemic. Photo by PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images

West Sussex was also slightly more sceptical about the effectiveness of the Government’s ‘rule of six’; 73 per cent thought it was likely to be ‘not effective’ or ‘not at all effective’, compared to 69.89 per cent nationally.

At the time of the survey being sent out, the rule had just been introduced to try to simplify existing measures. Now the Government has introduced a ‘three-tier system’ for local lockdowns.

West Sussex resident Alison Merrett said she thought the rules ‘should be two households rather than six people, which is effectively six households potentially mixing’.

And Tim Nicholls said there should be a ‘two-week strictly enforced lockdown including universities and colleges around half term’.

DM2060098a.jpg Littlehampton shops reopening after lockdown. Photo by Derek Martin Photography SUS-200615-170251008

Are we using our town centres?

While painting a bleak picture overall, the West Sussex results suggested the county’s high streets were not suffering quite as badly from the pandemic as the rest of the country. The survey found 26.9 per cent of West Sussex respondents had visited their town centre less than before the pandemic – compared to 22.2 per cent nationally, a difference of almost five per cent. But 14.9 per cent said they had not visited it at all since the coronavirus outbreak, almost four per cent less respondents than the 18.68 per cent nationally.

Only 2.7 per cent had visited their local high street ‘more’ or ‘a lot more’ post-pandemic, compared to 3.68 per cent in the national survey.

What are you comfortable doing during lockdown?

West Wittering, first day after lockdown. Pic Steve Robards SR2005139 SUS-200513-154633001

In terms of what activities people were currently comfortable doing, the local and national pictures largely married up.

The activity people were most comfortable doing nationally and in West Sussex from the options given in the survey was visiting beaches, parks or green spaces, closely followed by visiting family.

In West Sussex, spending time outdoors was even more popular: almost four per cent more respondents felt ‘very comfortable’ visiting beaches and green spaces than nationally, possibly explained by our enviable coastline and the South Downs.

The same went for the least comfortable activity: going on holiday abroad, followed by going to the cinema, theatre or live music.

The survey results did diverge slightly in a few other places. West Sussex appears to have more good Samaritans per capita than elsewhere in the UK, because survey respondents were more comfortable volunteering for community groups or charities. Whereas nationally, 48.79 per cent of respondents felt ‘very comfortable’ or ‘comfortable’ with doing this, 57.5 per cent of West Sussex participants felt that way.