BURNLEY Council's leader and his opposition counterpart have clashed over what steps to take to combat the coronavirus crisis.

Labour's Cllr Mark Townsend has written to borough boss Cllr Charlie Briggs calling for a raft of measures including free town centre car parking for shoppers and a council tax holiday for struggling businesses.

But the Burnley and Padiham Independence Party leader who leads the ruling coalition has accused him of 'playing politics' with the crisis.

Cllr Townsend told Cllr Briggs: "The Coranavirus outbreak in the UK has brought immediate financial worry and hardship to businesses and residents across the Borough. Businesses are experiencing a cliff edge drop in income and many residents face losing their jobs

"Burnley has done really well in attracting new businesses and protecting the town centre retail sector from the worst of austerity over recent years and it now needs the council to step up to the plate again to play it’s part supporting residents and business through this unprecedented situation.

"Immediate actions the Council can take to relieve financial burdens in the short term are : up to a three-month council tax holiday for those in difficulty; review the policy / budget for discretionary council tax support; immediate payment relief for businesses using the council commercial waste service; and provide free car parking for town centre shoppers for up to three hours over the next three months.

"Unprecedented times require unprecedented actions and I call on you to act positively and swiftly to support our local economy through this crisis."

Cllr Briggs said: “I am very disappointed that at a time of national emergency Cllr Townsend has decided to play local party politics. Mark has not discussed any of these items with me but feels it appropriate to try and score party political points.

"The government hasannounced a range of support measures and we await the details. We will then be working with them to get the help delivered to local residents and businesses.

"There already is a national council tax support scheme to help local residents and in addition we have a hardship and emergency fund.

"This situation is changing on a daily basis. We will continue to review how we support our residents and businesses and dovetail that into the national government support.

"There already is a national Council Tax support scheme to help local residents with their Council Tax and in addition we have a hardship and emergency fund.  Full details are available on the Council’s website or by phoning 01282 425011."