THE leader of Pendle Council has condemned the government for putting seven of its wards into tougher coronavirus restrictions today.

Cllr Mohammed Iqbal said: "This is not what Pendle needs right now."

He was reacting to Health Secretary Matt Hancock imposing strict new rules on Nelson and Brierfield.

The seven wards affected by new restrictions on household gatherings and socialising are Whitefield, Walverden, Southfield, Bradley, Clover Hill, Brierfield, and Marsden.

Cllr Iqbal was backed by Conservative group leader Cllr Nadeem Ahmed and his Liberal Democrat deputy David Whipp.

Pendle Tory MP Andrew Stephenson said: “ I think this is the right and proportionate response.

“No-one wants restrictions but no-one wants a full second lockdown. It is right that these new restrictions have been done at a very local levels based on the science.”

Cllr Iqbal said: “We are not signed up to extra Government restrictions. This is not what Pendle needs right now.

“In Pendle the number of Covid-19 cases has been coming down and that’s despite the fact that we are doing more testing than other areas in the North West.

“Testing units have been taken to the heart of communities, including town centres and schools.

“We need to see the results of all our efforts before the Government considers hitting Pendle with harsher restrictions."

Cllr Whipp said: “Our approach has been to ramp up testing across all parts of Pendle since July.

“My worry is that the new Government restrictions could well back-fire and lead to less people getting tested and an increase in Covid-19 cases.

“So far we have tested over 12,000 people and the message is let’s do it for Pendle - get tested, even if you do not have symptoms."

Cllr Ahmed said: “I’ve taken an active part with other community representatives to knock on doors and urge people to get tested.

“It’s good news that the number of cases is coming down in Pendle, but we are not complacent. The number of people testing positive here is too high.

“We have launched a new campaign to reach all parts of our community, including areas where Covid-19 has been spread by households mixing and within households.”