A council area which is being subject to tighter lockdown restrictions is "getting mopped up with the broader area" and has low rates of coronavirus, a council leader has claimed.

Rossendale was among a number of areas where new rules have been introduced preventing households from meeting each other inside their homes or in gardens following a spike in virus cases.

But figures from Public Health England on the Government's coronavirus online dashboard show Rossendale had a rate of new cases in the seven days to July 27 of 4.2, compared to 60.2 in Leicester and 54.3 in Oldham which have also been placed under restrictions.

The 4.2 figure puts Rossendale 153rd on the list of 315 local authority areas on that measure, and Alyson Barnes tweeted to say: "Levels of CV19 in Rossendale v low!

"Our figures are some of the lowest in the country, we are just getting mopped up with broader area!"

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).

In addition, the borough is in the bottom 20% of the UK rankings for job density according to Government statistics, suggesting many residents commute to jobs outside of district boundaries.

Announcing the new rules, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: "We're constantly looking at the latest data on the spread of coronavirus, and unfortunately we've seen an increasing rate of transmission in parts of Northern England.

"We've been working with local leaders across the region, and today I chaired a meeting of the Local Action Gold Committee. Based on the data, we decided that in Greater Manchester, parts of West Yorkshire and East Lancashire we need to take immediate action to keep people safe."

Alyson Barnes, leader of Rossendale Borough Council in Lancashire, 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.

Angie Ridgwell, who chairs Lancashire Resilience Forum which drew up the map with the government, defended the decision saying: "We were trying to look at where the infection is rising and where it might reasonably spread to.

"So the fact is that we’ve had cases either side of the East Lancs arc and that we’re seeing cases starting to increase from Pendle to Burnley and Hyndburn.

"There is a view that there is a lot of commuter traffic or movement between those communities which increases the risk of infection so therefore it was identified that a wider are might be a better way of controlling the infection and certainly enable clearer more consistent messages to be put out there.”