Hard-hit Lancashire businesses need more support, say leaders

Business chiefs have called for more support for struggling firms as the Government brought in more coronavirus restrictions in Lancashire.
Chorley is one of the areas that has joined Preston in receiving special restrictionsChorley is one of the areas that has joined Preston in receiving special restrictions
Chorley is one of the areas that has joined Preston in receiving special restrictions

Many Lancashire businesses - particularly in the hospitality industry - have been battling to get back on their feet after being closed for months.

The new restrictions in most areas apart from Blackpool could hit them hard.

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Simon Hanson, Development Manager at the Blackpool-headquartered Federation of Small Businesses, said: “Smaller businesses are the bedrock of the Lancashire business community.

"There needs to be clarity in the guidance from Government on what smaller businesses are able to do and not do.

“Alongside this it’s vital that smaller businesses are supported for as long as these measures are in place across Lancashire.

"Smaller businesses will need financial support to make the changes needed to be COVID secure and adapt to these new measures.

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"It is absolutely critical that we get grant support to small and micro businesses quickly to help them adapt and provide some much needed support for cashflow."

Babs Murphy, Chief Executive of the North & Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce said: “As a result of the increasing numbers of COVID-19 cases reported here in Lancashire, we as a business community must accept that further restrictions are absolutely essential to bring these conditions under control.

“Businesses are playing their part and will continue to do so in tackling this pandemic and the overwhelming majority are doing all they can in keeping their customers, the general public and employees safe.

“The fight against Covid-19 will certainly be with us in the months ahead and ongoing business support from Government, as well as a comprehensive, effective test and trace system will be needed to ensure that the health of our local economy is protected.”

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Meanwhile, a Lancaster pub landlord has said including the city in the latest tighter restrictions "makes no sense."

Dominic Leighton, landlord of the Three Mariners, also a popular eating venue, said: "Including Lancaster within these restrictions when the number of cases per 100,000 is lower than Blackpool makes absolutely no sense, and it does a disservice to the good work that the local community has done in keeping the infection rates low.

"In terms of the changes to pubs, we've been operating with table service and a 10pm closing time since lockdown finished so we are unaffected by the them, but it will make life much harder for late night city centre venues who have already been struggling to get by.

"Once again, including our area within these measures is simply wrong, while, despite higher infection rates, Blackpool and Greater Manchester remain free of them."

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North West TUC regional secretary Jay McKenna said: “Today’s announcement from the government was expected, but it still comes with real concerns for public health and the economy across the North West.

“Many will be asking what this means, and it will have a very real impact on millions of workers and their families. They will be worried about their health and their jobs."