Crow Wood Leisure owner blasts Government road map as 'timid'

The owner of Burnley-based Crow Wood Leisure, Andrew Brown, has accused the Government of being "timid" in response to the Prime Minister's road map out of lockdown.

Mr Brown, who has been a vocal critic of the Government's handling of the coronavirus pandemic and a staunch opponent of lockdowns, said he wished the Prime Minister had been braver in opening up society.

"The Government has been extremely timid," he said. "It should have been a lot braver but I will hold my wrath until I hear what Chancellor Rishi Sunak says.

"From our perspective we will survive, but I fear for smaller Burnley businesses, especially in the hospitality and leisure trades. Small restaurants and pubs will put orders in with suppliers and be told they still owe money from last year.

Andrew Brown (inset) and the new Crow Wood Hotel

"I think the road map out of this is very negative and flies in the face of evidence coming through about the positive impact of the vaccines. We've vaccinated the most vulnerable people, which was the initial priority before ending lockdown, but the Government, or the scientists, are moving the goalposts again.

"This road map is nonsense. I also feel sorry for the travel industry which has been devastated. I think the Prime Minister and Government are terrified of criticism."

Mr Brown's Crow Wood complex, which includes a gym, swimming pool, spa, hotel and other health and leisure facilities, has seen its offering severely curtailed over the last year.

Mr Brown, who also runs three restaurants on his Crow Wood Hotel and Spa Resort site, has previously said that businesses could not continue operating on a stop-stop basis.

Family restaurant the Lounge opened alongside the leisure club in 2001. It was followed by Bertram's in 2013, and then Wilfred's – the hotel's restaurant and bar – in 2019.

He also believes closures of health and leisure services flies in the face of other non-Covid health advice.

"There's supposed to be an obesity and mental health crisis in this country," he said. "Gyms and other leisure facilities are great for boosting mental and physical health. There's been a lot of collateral damage from all these lockdowns, and not just financial.

"My workforce are champing at the bit to re-open and I know our clients are too. If we opened up tomorrow we'd be booked out in no time. I was against lockdown full stop and would have adopted Sweden's approach. We shall wait and see.

"I just hope that the Government may be flexible and bring forward some of their dates if the data allows," he added.