A SHAKE-UP of coronavirus testing sites across Lancashire has been condemned by a council deputy leader.

Pendle borough’s Cllr David Whipp is furious that ‘pop-up’ centres where people can walk in are to be closed on Sunday for an extension of the national network in the county.

The Lancashire Resilience Forum announced the new system yesterday afternoon after the government said it was to stop supplying VTN testing kits for the walk-in community sites.

There will be a new permanent Covid-19 test centre in each county district, as well as in Blackburn with Darwen and Blackpool boroughs. Appointments will be needed at these sites.

Nationally-run centres are already open in Blackburn, Darwen, Leyland, Nelson and Preston.

A minimum of one centre will operate in each council area, with two being considered if suitable sites can be found.

These new government-run centres will take the place of the existing locally-run walk-in community testing sites in Blackburn, Burnley, Great Harwood, Colne and Preston and will be operated as part of the national test and trace system.

The existing site at the Royal Blackburn Hospital car park will remain open.

Neil Jack, chair of the LRF co-ordination group, said: “These new testing sites should make it easier for people to get tested by offering regular slots in local areas. You will need to book, rather than just walk in, but this should help to manage capacity. People are encouraged to get tested if they’re showing symptoms.”

Cllr David Whipp, also Lancashire County Council’s Liberal Democrat group leader, said: “Axing the community test sites is a dangerous disgrace.

“With the national testing system in disarray, the local programme has been a lifeline for thousands of people in the county.

"More than 39,000 tests have been carried out and people have been able to get tested when appointments for the national testing program have been rationed. This new system cannot carry the burden of replacing these testing centres.”

Dr Sakthi Karunanithi, Lancashire County Council’s public health director, said: “We’ve been informed by the Department of Health and Social Care that we will not be able to order any more VTN test kits for delivery after October 11. This means that our five community testing sites will cease by 11 October.”