PUBS and bars could be shut down by Christmas if something is not done to help them, town centre businesses have said.

Firms have requested a meeting with Blackburn with Darwen Council ‘to help save jobs, livelihoods and the future of the night-time economy’ in Blackburn centre.

In Lancashire pubs and bars who do not serve substantial meals, soft play areas, adult gaming centres, betting shops and bingo halls are all closed due to tier three coronavirus restrictions.

Many landlords have had to close because of the new restrictions but they are now concerned that a lack of support could see them unable to reopen.

Peter Harrison, spokesman for the licensees, said: “We are not alone here, but unless the council can provide us with clear details at the earliest opportunity of how businesses are to be supported, then like many others we won’t be able to continue to contribute to the Blackburn town centre economy when we do come out of tier three.

“We are currently awaiting a response from the council in regard to a meeting, we just hope that the council respond, before it’s too late."

Mr Harrison said small businesses had no other option but to hope the council can help them out of this 'dire situation’ and central government funds were passed onto the businesses that need it.

He said: “Over the last few years Blackburn town centre has seen somewhat of a revival with a number of small bars opening and growing a regular customer base, breathing life back into the streets in the evening.

“These bars are not only creating employment but contributing to the regeneration of the town centre both during the day and in the evening.

“It has taken many years to get to this stage, but sadly we are now in a position whereby all this could be gone again by Christmas.”

When being put into tier three, Lancashire was given a financial package of £42million for the county's 1.5million people

The business support comes to £30million, equivalent to approximately £20 per capita with the further £12million agreed for enforcement which equals about £8 per capita.

Blackburn with Darwen Council has launched a grant for businesses that were open as usual before the tier three restrictions came in if they paid business rates for the premises as of October 14, 2020.

The payment will be in line with the rateable value of the business which if at £15,000 or lower, the business will receive £667 per two-week qualifying restriction period.

If the rateable value is over £15,000 and less than £51,000, the business will receive £1,000 per two-week qualifying restriction period and for businesses with a rateable value of £51,000 or above they will receive £1,500 per two-week qualifying restriction period.

The council is expecting other funding for businesses will also be made available to the council but officials are awaiting clarification from government.

Councillor Phil Riley, executive member for growth and regeneration, said: "The new rules brought in by the Government means quite a few businesses in the borough are not able to open right now, so obviously any help we can give them is crucial.

"We know it is not as good as staying open and making your usual living, but these grants should hopefully go some way to plugging a gap temporarily while the Government restrictions are in place."