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Council leader calls for urgent levelling up of coronavirus support

27 November 2020

Council Leader Allen Brett. Council leader Allen Brett has called on the government to urgently expand the level of coronavirus support in place for businesses across the borough.

He was speaking after Rochdale was placed in tier 3 – the highest level of restrictions – meaning bars, pubs and restaurants must continue to remain closed.

The announcement means that, without additional government support, the council faces the prospect of having to stretch the government’s previously announced Additional Restrictions Grant until the spring.

The grant enables local authorities to allocate to local businesses whose revenues have been hit as a result of coronavirus, as well as providing discretionary cash to help fund additional support measures.

Tram in Rochdale town centre. Councillor Brett has now called on the government to retrospectively provide more support for areas like Rochdale, which had been placed in the highest area of restrictions before the 2nd national lockdown was enforced in early November 2020.

Councillor Brett said: “Although coronavirus levels are coming down there is still a lot more to do, so I accept the decision at this stage to place us in tier 3 to help save lives and protect our local health services. What I cannot accept is the government’s 2 tier approach to funding that seems to be in place across the country, so when they look again at these measures on 16 December 2020, it needs to be a proper review not just tokenism.

“Many excellent local businesses are at breaking point and, despite the hard work of the council to support them, urgently need additional support in place to safeguard their future, protect the local economy and save jobs. It’s not good enough to just make these announcements, without a new package of economic and social support in place.

Rochdale town centre.

“It is soul destroying for our hospitality trade who have worked so hard to comply with the guidance to make their premises COVID-19 secure. They have done their bit, now it’s up to the government to do their bit and realise how serious the economic situation is in towns like Rochdale.

“I am going to keeping banging the drum for our borough, as I have done throughout the pandemic, to ensure businesses across Rochdale, Middleton, Heywood and the Pennines get their fair share. The government talks about levelling up; a level playing field would be a welcome starting point.”