By Rachael Grealish
The mayor of Copeland has spoken out against allegations he broke COVID-19 restrictions.
Mike Starkie, the Conservative elected mayor of Copeland, was accused yesterday, Friday October 16 of being in a group larger than six in the Whitehaven venue The Harbour Master.
A photo [below] of Mr Starkie began circulating social media after it was assumed he was in a group of eight, causing outrage among his constituents.
However, Mr Starkie and a spokesperson from The Harbour Master have spoken out, separately, this morning, Saturday October 17 contradicting the allegations.
In a statement Mr Starkie said: “Yesterday I was in the Harbour Master in Whitehaven where I had a pre-arranged meet-up with four friends.
“We sat at the same table for the duration of our stay as directed. No third party ever joined us at the table and COVID rules were followed by myself, my friends and the establishment for the entire time.
“A separate party did occupy the adjacent, distanced table. Coincidentally – although not untypical in a town the size of Whitehaven – I knew members of that party and we exchanged pleasantries, but at no time did our groups merge, no furniture was moved, and I believe the other group was still in situ when I left.
“The fact is that myself and my four friends adhered to all the COVID rules, and as long as it remains within the rules, I will continue to support our local hospitality industry.
“I support the statement made by the Harbour Master, a local business, and I thank them for keeping me and others safe, whilst continuing to trade in these most challenging of times.
“I am sadly used to people making unfounded allegations against me – often to score political points – but people should consider the potential damage they could do to a local business before jumping to irresponsible false accusations.
“This pandemic is beyond politics at any level, it saddens me that that I, a local business and the pandemic have been used in this way, therefore I will not engage further on these irresponsible and untrue accusations.”
The venue also posted on social media in attempt to clarify the situation.
The post said: “Morning all, we were not going to react to this but thought it best to clarify.
“There is a picture circulating implying we allowed a party of 8 people.
Anyone that knows us as a business or personally would know we would not allow this.
“The table in question was infact 2 completly different parties that entered the premises separately, nearly an hour apart.
“This image shows what looks to be 2 tables together and because of the angle it looks closer than it is.
“We strive everyday to ensure our guests safety and that is our number one priority through these uncertain times.”
Currently, the COVID-19 rules in Copeland, in Cumbria, state a group no larger than six people can meet indoors or outdoors as the area is currently under tier one restrictions.