Published: Tuesday, 15th Sep 2020

Council leadership in Bolton is calling on the government to provide extra support for the borough as the rate of infections here in Bolton continues to climb.

A sudden increase in COVID-19 cases in Bolton has seen the local infection rate jump to nearly 200 per 100,000 and prompted the government to impose restrictions on household mixing and the hospitality sector.

Now the council is lobbying government asking for help and changes to guidance in a number of areas.

Leader of the Council, Cllr David Greenhalgh, commented, “Working with our partners, we are asking Government to look at three key areas that need to be addressed with some urgency: availability of tests, additional support for local businesse affected by the new restrictions, and childcare provision.

“We need Bolton to be prioritised with extra testing capacity. Two new test centres have opened in the borough with another to open in the next day or so, but we are seeing overwhelming demand for appointments, and residents consistently unable to access that extra capacity through the nationally run booking scheme.

“This is not acceptable, and we are asking the government to give us additional tests through the national portal for our symptomatic residents.

“We are also asking the government to look at expanding the definition of bubbles for childcare. Households who don’t live together or who are not in a social bubble, cannot meet under the Bolton restrictions. This is also putting a strain on many workers who rely on family for childcare, particularly around school pick ups.

“We are proposing for the definition of bubbles in the town to include another dedicated family who can provide this childcare support.

“The Treasury has announced that businesses which have had to close will be able to claim £1500 grant every three weeks and smaller firms can claim £1000, and this is welcome, but we are asking government to re-consider the level of support as under the previous furlough arrangements of 80%.

We are also lobbying on behalf of after school clubs, play centres, the beauty industry and other businesses who continue to be adversely hit by restrictions.

“We are doing all we can within the resources that are available. The infection rate in the borough is now the highest it has been in the last six months and we are in this for the long haul.

“We need that support from the government, we will work with you to get these rates down, but we need you to listen to our local concerns.

“We will be having dialogue with the government throughout this week.”