BORIS Johnson has been asked to intervene in a row between two local authorities over putting tables and chairs on main shopping street.

Rossendale Council leader Cllr Alyson Barnes has written to the Prime Minister accusing Lancashire County of scuppering the plans to help traders in Bank Street, Rawtenstall, hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

She had wanted to use grant cash from the government’s Reopening High Streets Safely Fund to allow cafes and pubs to spread out onto the roadway of the town centre street.

But this needed Lancashire County Council, the highways authority, to make it a one-way thoroughfare creating space for the al fresco dining and drinking areas to ensure social distancing while allowing pedestrians to use the pavement.

Now County Hall lawyers have said this is not allowed by legislation while the roadway, paved with setts, is not suitable for use by passers-by.

Cllr Barnes is furious at the change of heart after the highways authority was involved in the initial consultations on the plan, supported by 80 per cent of Rawtenstall town centre traders.

She said: “We’re extremely frustrated by the rejection of these plans. The council followed all the correct procedures.

"We have spent a lot of time making sure everyone was involved, including the county council, and for them to come back now and reject the plans just seems ludicrous. Someone there must have known about this and for it not to have been brought up earlier in the process is very frustrating.

“I have written to the Prime Minster to highlight the issue and ask for an immediate change to this legislation.

"More than 80 per cent of traders participating in our consultation selected a one-way system, which would have created additional external space for food and hospitality premises, whilst still maintaining enough parking spaces, important for other traders."

A spokesman for Lancashire County Council said: "One of the options being looked at for Bank Street involved reducing the road space available to vehicles in order to allow food businesses to put tables and chairs in the road while allowing pedestrians to pass on the pavement.

"Upon closer examination we found that the Covid legislation and funding to reopen high streets does not allow the highway to be used for this specific purpose.

"However we are currently exploring whether other highway legislation and funding may be available to achieve this, along with alternative configurations for Bank Street."