When a public inquiry into the UK¡¯s response to the coronavirus crisis eventually takes place, one issue it should address is the relationship between centrally driven and locally run operations.

A worrying, if predictable, pattern of behaviour is emerging, in which the government does not consult local authorities, metro mayors and local directors of public health, or trust them to play a role, even when they clearly have expertise to bring to the table. This is self-defeating as the country moves into a new phase during which combating local ¡°flare-ups¡±, in what Boris Johnson calls his ¡°whack-a-mole¡± strategy, will be critical. The prospect of a citywide lockdown in Leicester appears to have been raised by the government, without keeping local politicians and officials in the loop or providing them with evidence to justify it.

Now an investigation funded by The Independent¡¯s Supporter Programme has exposed the shortcomings of another centralised approach ¨C the decision to build up testing capacity from scratch in privatised mega-laboratories instead of a localised solution based on existing research institutes or locked-down university labs. At the very least, these could have stepped in while capacity was built up, but ministers spurned offers of help.

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