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Statement from Cllr Lynn Williams, Leader of Blackpool Council

Cllr Lynn Williams, Leader of Blackpool Council, said: “We are bitterly disappointed that the Government has not recognised the significant improvements we have made in reducing infection rates – or the impact that Tier 3 designation will have on our local economy and people’s livelihoods.

“The case that we put forward to be moved to Tier 2 was a compelling one both in terms of statistical evidence and the measures that we have put in place to maintain that downward trend.

“We could not have made it any clearer that Tier 3 status is inappropriate particularly when a comparison is made with some areas that are moving into Tier 2 next week. There is a serious inconsistency in how these tiers have been applied and it is difficult to see how we can ever exit Tier 3 if we are always going to be tied into areas of the county that do not have comparable circumstances.

“In its own representations to Government, Lancashire County Council had itself argued there was a difference between the east and west of the county and the two should be treated differently. That argument has been ignored.

“The impact that has already been inflicted on Blackpool as a result of almost three months of restrictions and national lockdown has pushed many of our businesses to the brink and some will not survive the winter. The changes that have been made to the new Tier 3 restrictions were announced too late in the day meaning that many businesses have incurred costs for things that they now cannot do. It makes business planning impossible.

“We would urge the Government to now provide the level of financial support that is required for our tourism and hospitality businesses and associated supply chain, and also provide sufficient resources for us to roll out targeted mass testing.”

Cllr Williams said she understood that many businesses and residents would be deeply disappointed by the Tier 3 designation, but she urged them to continue to abide by the new rules that will come into force on December 2.

She added: “Given that shops will be allowed to reopen, there might well be a temptation for people to take a less cautious approach to Christmas shopping and socialising. That simply cannot happen.

“We urge businesses to put additional measures in place to prevent crowding and unnecessary queuing whether that be through extended opening hours or by designated time slots.

“We will be remobilising our COVID marshals to provide on-the-ground support and advice to ensure that social distancing and other restrictions are being adhered to across the town.

“Everyone must play their part in helping to contain the virus so that we can get out of these Tier 3 restrictions and start to return to some semblance of normal life.”