Rossendale Council leader says area is being 'mopped up' by coronavirus north west lockdown despite low infection rate

·3 min read
A sign advising people to stay two metres apart on a lamppost in the centre of Bradford, West Yorkshire, one of the areas where new measures have been implemented to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Stricter rules have been introduced for people in Greater Manchester, parts of East Lancashire, and West Yorkshire, banning members of different households from meeting each other indoors.
A council leader has claimed that their area has been 'mopped up' by new lockdown restrictions, despite having a low coronavirus infection rate. (PA)

A Lancashire area included in parts of the north west where tighter coronavirus restrictions have been imposed is getting “mopped up” with the wider area despite its low rates of the virus, a council leader has claimed.

Rossendale in Lancashire is among a number of areas where new rules were announced on Thursday night preventing households from meeting each other inside their homes or in gardens.

The move follows a spike in virus cases but figures from Public Health England on the Government’s coronavirus online dashboard show Rossendale had a far lower rate than other areas where the restrictions have been introduced.

According to the figures, the rate of new cases in the seven days to July 27 was 4.2 in Rossendale, compared to 60.2 in Leicester and 54.3 in Oldham — putting it 153rd on the list of 315 local authority areas on that measure.

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Rossendale Borough Council leader Alyson Barnes told BBC Breakfast that the “semi-rural area” had no cases of coronavirus last Thursday, which rose to one case last Friday, and the “figures were then seen to have doubled” putting them in a “red category”.

She said: “The reality is we have some of the lowest figures in the country.

“We’re having to absorb these new instructions this morning, it doesn’t make any sense to me.”

She said Rossendale had been “mopped up” in the lockdown for geographic reasons, adding the Government should introduce a “more nuanced approach”.

She added: “I think people in our area have been very compliant… but I think they will struggle to see sense in some of this when they know the figures locally are low.”

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Nearby Preston, which is not included in the new restrictions, had the 16th highest rate of new cases in the seven days to July 27 at 21.2, the same as Salford which has been included.

However, Rossendale is bordered by three areas which are in the top 20 for rates of infection, Blackburn with Darwen (first), Hyndburn (13th) and Burnley (19th).

Matt Hancock defended the decision to apply measures across all 10 Greater Manchester boroughs as the virus was spreading more widely than in the local areas where specific action had already been taken.

He told Sky News: “We absolutely looked at what was the right geography for this decision.

“Unfortunately we have seen an increase in the number of cases in Trafford and we also work with the local authority, and local authorities within Greater Manchester including the mayor, and took the decision to apply this across the whole of Greater Manchester.

“The reason for that is we’ve seen these increases across the board in Greater Manchester as well as the other areas that are affected.

“And also the problem was that we had taken more targeted, more specific local action, for instance in Oldham and Blackburn.

“But we could see that it was spreading more widely than that so we had to take the action that we did.”

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