A minister accused Sadiq Khan of political point scoring after the Government came under fire for its local lockdown plans.
Mr Khan expressed his surprise that major plans to deals with a second coronavirus spike had been discussed and tested “without the involvement or awareness of London’s government”.
But minister for regional growth and local government Simon Clarke told BBC Breakfast that elected local leaders were “very firmly included” in coronavirus discussions, and that he spoke to Mr Khan on a fortnightly basis.
He added: “I do think there is an element here of politics I’m afraid. I don’t think it’s particularly helpful or constructive. It is simply not my experience in any way that we are not working closely with locally elected leaders.
“In fact we are at pains to do so. Sometimes of course those relationships are easier than others. It is vital that we work together in common cause to overcome this challenge.”
The Sunday Times reported that the Prime Minister held a “war game” session with Chancellor Rishi Sunak last Wednesday to run through possible options in the event of a second wave. Measures are said to include lockdown-like conditions for London, with the M25 acting as a barrier to seal off the capital.
A spokesman for Mr Khan said: “The Mayor makes no apology for warning the public about the government’s damaging failures in its response to Covid-19 crisis, including its confusing and often contradictory messaging.
“It is simply not acceptable that ministers continue to exclude London’s government from crucial pandemic planning exercises.
“We can only control this virus if we work together. Ministers must include local leaders, who understand their communities, in planning and decision making.”
The Government has also been criticised by Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham for its late night announcement of new coronavirus restrictions across parts of the North West last week.
He accused ministers of a “back of a fag packet” approach. Meanwhile, the mayor of Leicester Sir Peter Soulsby has also accused the health secretary of “playing silly games” with the boundaries of its local lockdown.
Simon Clarke told Sky News: “I’ve spoken to all three of those guys myself, regularly throughout the last few weeks.
“They are all obviously opposition politicians, they’ve all got – I’m afraid to say – a drum to beat on this issue.
“There is no sense in which we are not listening to local leaders, quite the opposite. It is frankly unhelpful for them to try and score points on that issue. We are always there for them if they want to raise points.”
Liverpool’s Director of Public Health Matthew Ashton told Times Radio it was “really important” to take a proactive preventative approach at a local level. He added: “National top down measures don’t always work because they don’t translate well into the community.”