Covid-19 testing site ‘disappeared overnight’ to make way for Brexit lorry park

A coronavirus testing site has "disappeared overnight" to make way for a Brexit lorry park, leaving residents confused about where to get tested.

The Tipner drive-through centre in Portsmouth, which is owned by Deloitte, was due to become a lorry site on October 5, but was moved to Southampton Airport ahead of schedule and without warning.

Portsmouth City Council's cabinet member for health Matthew Winnington said he had "no clue" the site would move early, and Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan said ministers need to "get a grip over the testing fiasco".

Writing on Twitter, the Labour MP said: "The Government must work with councils and public services to bring down Covid cases and save lives. Shocked to learn @portsmouthtoday and our LRF was only told unofficially last night that the Tipner site has packed up and closed.

"Ministers must get a grip over the testing fiasco."

Liberal Democrat Mr Winnington told the PA news agency the Health Secretary should "take responsibility" for the change.

Mr Winnington said: "Matt Hancock has to take responsibility for this, especially as he's a former minister for Portsmouth so should know the importance of ensuring Portsmouth and the surrounding area is kept in the loop when things like this happen."

"The DHSC (Department of Health and Social Care) needs to get a grip," he added.

Although the Department of Health said the site moved "more than a week ago", the Liberal Democrat councillor said it happened suddenly on Wednesday – a view shared by Portsmouth residents.

Mr Winnington said: "It didn't go a week ago, it was around Wednesday evening. It almost seems the DHSC didn't know when it moved and that's even more concerning.

30 PHOTOS
Pictures of the week: September 20 - 26
See Gallery
Pictures of the week: September 20 - 26
A piece of street art of two girls on Hawley Street. A huge variety of Street Art of all kinds can be found almost around every corner in one of London's artistic and cultural hotbeds of Camden Town. (Photo by Keith Mayhew / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)
Captain Sir Tom Moore in Wootton, Marston Moretaine, Bedford with veteran fundraiser Lloyd Scott, who will attempt to climb the Three Peaks whilst wearing a deep sea diving suit. (Photo by Jacob King/PA Images via Getty Images)
Manchester City's Adrián Bernabé reacts as he is carried from the pitch during the English League Cup third round soccer match between Manchester City and Bournemouth at the City of Manchester Stadium in Manchester, England, Thursday, Sept. 24, 2020.(Mike Egerton/Pool via AP)
A man dressed as Santa Claus is seen seated in a picnic chair with a poster in his hands around Leicester Square in London to promote the new channel Sony Movies Christmas which launches on Thursday the 24th of September and will run for the next three months. (Photo by Brett Cove / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)
A shopper wears a mask as she exits a shop in Windsor, England, Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2020. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson appealed Tuesday for resolve and a "spirit of togetherness" through the winter as he unveiled new restrictions on everyday life to suppress a dramatic spike in coronavirus cases. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
A visitor looks at George Morton-Clark's artwork during the exhibition. Opera Gallery, in London's New Bond Street, presents a show of new works by British artist George Morton-Clark, entitled "This is as far as I started". Following the devastating blast in Beirut, Opera Gallery London will be showing their support by donating part of the proceeds from the new exhibition to the Paediatric Ward at St. Georges Hospital in Beirut. (Photo by Keith Mayhew / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)
People wearing face masks wait to enter a store at Regent Street. Members of the public wearing protective face masks as they shop in Central London as further lockdown measures are proposed for the capital later this week. The UK government is preparing for a possible second nationwide lockdown to fight the spread of COVID-19. (Photo by Keith Mayhew / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)
A person looks around the Mayflower 400: Legend and Legacy exhibition, during a press preview for the UK's largest ever commemorative exhibition on the Mayflower, with works on loan from both Smithsonian and Peabody institutes in America, at The Box museum in Plymouth, Devon.
A staff member of a toy store wears a face mask as she invites customers to enter the store, in London, Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2020. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has slammed the brakes on the country's return to offices, saying people should work from home if possible to help slow the spread of the coronavirus. Johnson on Tuesday announced a package of new restrictions, including a requirement for pubs, restaurants and other hospitality venues in England to close between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
EMBARGOED TO 0001 WEDNESDAY SEPTEMBER 23 EDITORIAL USE ONLY Quality control manager, Karl Chamberlain, reveals the official way to measure a Wotsit crisp as Walkers announces a ??10k reward for whomever finds the biggest Wotsits Giant in the UK.
People travelling outside Waterloo station in London, after Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a range of new restrictions to combat the rise in coronavirus cases in England. (Photo by Dominic Lipinski/PA Images via Getty Images)
EDITORIAL USE ONLY The Royal Mint has today revealed their latest coin � a Winnie-the-Pooh 50p that has taken the original and well-recognised illustrations by E.H. Shepard of the bear and transformed them onto a UK coin for the first time.
Members of the public are seen by a public information message in central Manchester after Prime Minister Boris Johnson set out new restrictions to last "perhaps six months" to slow the renewed spread of coronavirus, Manchester, England, Tuesday Sept 22, 2020. The UK has reached "a perilous turning point", Boris Johnson said as he set out a raft of new coronavirus restrictions for England. ( AP Photo/Jon Super)
HS2 security guards monitor an anti-HS2 activist standing in the Grand Union Canal to halt tree felling works alongside HOAC lake in connection with the HS2 high-speed rail link on 21 September 2020 in Harefield, United Kingdom. Anti-HS2 activists continue to try to prevent or delay works for the controversial £106bn HS2 high-speed rail link on environmental and cost grounds from a series of protection camps based along the route of the line between London and Birmingham. (photo by Mark Kerrison/In Pictures via Getty Images)
A dancer performs in protest opposite the Central Criminal Court, the Old Bailey, in London, Monday, Sept. 21, 2020, as the Julian Assange extradition hearing to the US continues. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
People watch the sun set behind South Stack lighthouse on the Isle of Anglesey, North Wales. (Photo by Peter Byrne/PA Images via Getty Images)
A group of women all wearing witches hats take a selfie. Stratford-upon-Avon is a market town in the county of Warwickshire, England, on the River Avon. The town is one of the most popular tourist destinations in England as it is the birthplace and gravesite of playwright and poet William Shakespeare. (Photo by Keith Mayhew / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)
Bailiffs and officials leave after serving legal documents in connection with an extended injunction recently granted to HS2 Ltd by the High Court to persons believed to be former inhabitants of a wildlife protection camp occupied by anti-HS2 activists on 21 September 2020 in Denham, United Kingdom. Anti-HS2 activists continue to try to prevent or delay works for the controversial £106bn HS2 high-speed rail link on environmental and cost grounds from a series of protection camps based along the route of the line between London and Birmingham. (photo by Mark Kerrison/In Pictures via Getty Images)
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps arrives in Downing Street, London, ahead of a Cabinet meeting at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. (Photo by Aaron Chown/PA Images via Getty Images)
People out in Manchester town centre, The latest Public Health England data shows that 672 new cases of Covid-19 were recorded in the city in the seven days to September 17. (Photo by Danny Lawson/PA Images via Getty Images)
Flying Officer James Buckingham salutes The Battle of Britain memorial window inside Westminster Abbey, the stained glass window by Hugh Easton that contains the badges of the fighter squadrons that took part in the Battle, during a service to mark the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Britain at Westminster Abbey, London, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020. (Aaron Chown/Pool Photo via AP)
89-year-old John Wilkins during his sponsored wing walk for Bristol Children's Hospital's The Grand Appeal at Dunkeswell Airfield near Honiton in Devon. (Photo by Andrew Matthews/PA Images via Getty Images)
PORTSMOUTH, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 20: Sophie, Countess of Wessex takes part in the Great British Beach Clean on Southsea beach on September 20, 2020 in Portsmouth, England. (Photo by Pool/Samir Hussein/WireImage)
SOUTHEND-ON-SEA, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 20: A man fishes as the sun goes down during recent warm weather on September 20, 2020 in Southend on Sea, London. (Photo by John Keeble/Getty Images)
A man holding a small dog in his arms wears a face covering to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus on 20 September 2020 in Staines-Upon-Thames, United Kingdom. The Borough of Spelthorne, of which Staines-upon-Thames forms part along with Ashford, Sunbury-upon-Thames, Stanwell, Shepperton and Laleham, has been declared an area of concern for COVID-19 by the government following a marked rise in coronavirus infections which is inconsistent with other areas of Surrey. (photo by Mark Kerrison/In Pictures via Getty Images)
Tottenham's Son Heung-min, left, and Tottenham's Harry Kane celebrate at the end of the English Premier League soccer match between Southampton and Tottenham Hotspur at St. Mary's Stadium in Southampton, England, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020. (Justin Tallis/Pool via AP)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 20: A general view of the atmosphere at the Cyberdog X Kappa IRL/VR catwalk to launch the Rave Team Collection during London Fashion Week September 2020 at Cyberdog on September 20, 2020 in London, England. (Photo by David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images)
Runners and riders in the tote.co.uk Free Streaming Every UK Race Handicap at Chelmsford City Racecourse.
SOUTHEND-ON-SEA, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 20: A group of people wearing face masks wait for a bus at the bus stop on September 20, 2020 in Southend on Sea, London. (Photo by John Keeble/Getty Images)
Global Art ridden by Ryan Moore (3rd right) coming home to win the tote.co.uk Free Streaming Every UK Race Handicap at Chelmsford City Racecourse.
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

"We didn't have a clue it would be moving earlier than planned. We have absolutely no idea why we weren't informed.

"It makes me feel ridiculous because people are then saying to me, 'this test site has moved, do you know about that?' and I have to tell them I didn't know."

He added the Department of Health has failed to communicate properly with Portsmouth City Council about other major public health changes, including an ongoing problem over guidance about where Isle of Wight residents should get tested.

"We have got people from the Isle of Wight coming to the mainland for testing, because they are being told they should do that by the DHSC," he said.

"They shouldn't be using public transport while they have symptoms, but what the Government website is saying is that they have to.

"It's just not good enough, and it really gives me concern about what other things we haven't heard about with regards to the pandemic.

"If it's happening to us, it's happening to other places across the country too."

Matthew Winnington, health cabinet member for Portsmouth City Council, has said the Government needs to "get a grip" on coronavirus testing after his local site was transformed into a Brexit lorry park ahead of schedule without warning local authorities or residents.
Matthew Winnington, health cabinet member for Portsmouth City Council, said the Government needs to 'get a grip' on coronavirus testing (Matthew Winnington/PA)

Local councils, local resilience forums and some emergency services staff are responsible for co-ordinating local testing centres along with the Department of Health.

Adrian Baker, GMB workers' union regional organiser, also blamed the Government for "failing to inform the local authority" that the testing site was moving early.

Mr Baker said: "Test and Trace has become trace the test. This dereliction of duty is quite incredible.

"What are the public and workers supposed to do if the Government doesn't even know how long a testing site will be available for?"

A Department of Health spokesperson said: "Regional testing sites were set up at great speed to provide access to tests for key workers across the UK.

"Sites were selected where there was immediate availability, as well as being secure and easily accessible.

"To make sure the regional testing site network remains available for as long as is needed, a small number of sites are being relocated.

"The Portsmouth Tipner Lorry Park site has been successfully relocated to the Long Stay Car Park at Southampton Airport to ensure that tests continue to be available in the region."

Deloitte has also been contacted about the site move.

Read Full Story Click here to comment

FROM OUR PARTNERS