A TEAM of MPs are calling on the government to lower their area's assigned tier ahead of the national lockdown ending next week.

Conservative politicians spoke of their "disappointment" when it was revealed that East Sussex would face Tier 2 restrictions from December 2.

They are now pushing for the government to consult with local health leaders and review this decision.

Eastbourne MP Caroline Ansell, Wealden MP Nus Ghani, Hastings and Rye MP Sally-Ann Hart and Bexhill and Battle MP Huw Merriman have joined forces to appeal for the region to be dropped to Tier 1, meaning it would face the least stringent post-lockdown coronavirus restrictions possible.

A move from Tier 2 to Tier 1 would mean people in the area could meet indoors in groups of up to six, and pubs and bars could remain open until an 11pm curfew.

In Tier 2 people are prohibited from socialising with anyone they do not live with in any indoor setting, unless they are in their support bubble.

Pubs and bars in Tier 2 areas must close unless they are operating as restaurants, and alcohol can only be served alongside "substantial meals".

There are fears this measure could have a devastating impact on the hospitality industry.

The decision to place East Sussex in Tier 2 has also caused some confusion, with the area having been in Tier 1 before the second national lockdown was introduced on November 5.

A joint statement from the East Sussex MPs, opposing the Tier 2 restrictions set to be enforced in the area, said: "We share the disappointment of residents who now face some additional restrictions to those which were in place before the November lockdown began.

The Argus: Alcohol must be served with a substantial meal in Tier 2Alcohol must be served with a substantial meal in Tier 2

"It was hoped that the month of national restrictions would have eased the rates locally.

"While, very recently, the county had the lowest rate of all 149 authorities, there was an increase in the rate a week ago.

"The local rates, and local hospital Covid-19 patient occupancy, have fallen over the last few days.

"However, and along with the majority of England, East Sussex falls within Tier 2.

"Residents should be assured that we remain an area with one of the lowest number of confirmed cases (being 145th out of 149 counties).

"These additional restrictions will be particularly impactful on our hospitality industry.

"It is hoped that residents will find ways to support all local businesses whilst keeping to the rules and helping keep everyone safe and improving our chances of moving to the lowest tier of restrictions."

The Argus: Wealden will be in Tier 2Wealden will be in Tier 2

The weekly coronavirus rate in East Sussex in the seven days leading up to November 20 (the most recent complete data available) was 134.4 new cases per 100,000 population.

The area of Sussex with the highest weekly coronavirus rate in this period was Haialsham Central and East with 448.4 new cases per 100,000 population.

Currently, only two areas are in Tier 1, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, and the Isle of Wight.

These have weekly rates of 59.1 and 60 respectively.

Speaking in the House of Commons yesterday, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said that the tier for each area of the UK had been decided by case detections rates, case detection rates in over 60s, whether the R number is increasing or decreasing, the potential pressure on the NHS and the positivity rate (the number of positive Covid-19 tests as a proportion of the number of tests being carried out).

He said these would be reviewed "regularly", with the government likely to look at the tier system on a fortnightly basis.

The Argus: Wealden conservative MP Nus Ghani quizzed Matt Hancock on the new restrictionsWealden conservative MP Nus Ghani quizzed Matt Hancock on the new restrictions

The East Sussex MP's statement read: "Along with our neighbour Maria Caulfield MP, we have engaged with our county hospital, council, public health and GP leaders.

"We are all grateful to them for explaining the local Covid data and trends.

"We have sought to ensure that those making these decisions centrally have held the same discussions.

"We will continue to press the Department of Health to listen to our local experts in order to review the restrictions in a fortnight with the aim of reducing to the Tier 1 level when local evidence permits."

In the House of Commons yesterday, Wealden MP Nus Ghani asked Mr Hancock if he could give reassurances that "conversations will take place with local leaders" and " transparent, objective criteria will be published for each tier, and also (information saying) how we can slide between each tier".

He was quick to say he could "give both those reassurances" but said the infection rate across East Sussex still remained too high to lower its assigned tier.

The Health Secretary said: "Across Sussex case rates are at 120. They do need to come down.

"Like her (Ms Ghani) I'd like to see Sussex get to Tier 1 as soon as is possible and we'll keep talking to the local area.

The Argus: Health secretary Matt HancockHealth secretary Matt Hancock

"All directors of public health have been invited to discussions and consultations with the public health team, and their feedback has been fed into these decisions.

"But we've got to make sure those conversations continue.

"And the key message to everybody across Sussex, and in Wealden in particular, is that if we all stick together and we all follow the rules then we know we can get this virus under control.

"And that will then lead directly to the lifting of restrictions which we will regularly review."