Pendle Council leader urges Prime Minister not to punish area as end of lockdown looms

The leader of Pendle Council, Labour's Mohammed Iqbal, has written to the Prime Minister urging further support from the Government when the national lockdown ends next week.

Pendle, which has been under some of the most severe restrictions throughout the Covid-19 pandemic due to high number of infections, is likely to be placed back into the highest Tier 3 when the national lockdown ends on Wednesday next week.

Coun. Iqbal said he was concerned that promises made to Pendle by the Government had still not been honoured.

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He added that the borough should be protected and not punished in any future measures.

Coun. Moahmmed Iqbal, the leader of Pendle Council

As a result of Pendle's initial move into Tier 3, it was agreed that Lancashire would receive £30m of funding to provide support to Lancashire businesses to recover over the coming six months.

However, Coun. Iqbal highlighted his fears that the subsequent national lockdown may have watered down support for Tier 3 areas.

In his letter to Boris Johnson, Coun. Iqbal, also County Councillor for Brierfield and Nelson West, said: "My concern is that with lockdown, the level of business support appears to have been equalized across the country which, on one level I understand, but on another fails to recognise the depth of the impact of restrictions on Pendle which has been under some form of lockdown for a considerable period of time.

"I should also add that, as part of the agreement, the scope of businesses closed under Tier 3 restrictions was much narrower than under lockdown and so, arguably, the available funding must go further than was originally envisaged."

Pendle, which received an £8 per head of population for being part of the as a pilot for the original Test and Trace Support Payment, later increased the payment to a one-off sum of £500, was insufficient according to the council leader.

He added: "To date we have made 152 payment of £500 costing £76,500 against a funding allocation of £47,500. I should be grateful for your assurance that Pendle, and all councils for that matter, will be fully reimbursed for cost of self-isolation payments.

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"Finally, we were grateful for the recognition of the challenging position we, as a local authority in an area where some of the highest restrictions have applied since March 2020, find ourselves in relation to the ongoing impact of Covid-19 on the council’s financial position.

"A fundamental part of the agreement to move into Tier 3 from my perspective was the assurance given by the Treasury that no local authority in Local Alert Level 3 will be put in a position where they are unable to balance their budget this year or set a legal budget for next year."