RIBBLE Valley MP Nigel Evans has branded the government's decision to place his constituency in tier three coronavirus restrictions when the national lockdown ends 'ludicrous'.

He pledged to press ministers to remove the borough from the toughest rules as soon as possible.

The Commons deputy speaker's intervention follows Ribble Valley Council leader Cllr Stephen Atkinson branding the move, which forces pubs and restaurants to close except for takeaways, 'devastating'.

Lancashire County Council leader Geoff Driver has described the tier three rating as 'disappointing' and will be asking the government what the measures will be for coming out of tier three.

Rossendale Council's leader Cllr Alyson Barnes has also criticised the decision and called for more support for businesses.

The new tiering arrangements take effect on Wednesday and will be reviewed on December 16.

Mr Evans said: "I am dismayed all of Lancashire has again been put into the highest tier of restrictions as the national lockdown ends.

“The decision to place the Ribble Valley and South Ribble into tier three is very disappointing. The figures show that infections have been steadily falling and are now much lower than they were a few weeks ago, when the original decision to place our area in tier three was taken.

“Local leaders had asked the Government to recognise the diverse nature of the county, and I find it ludicrous that every area has been painted with the same brush.

"I will be working with MPs from other areas of Lancashire with a low number of cases, so that when the government reviews the data next we are put into the tier that more accurately reflects our situation.”

Cllr Barnes said: “I am disappointed, The leaders of Lancashire had requested a more targeted approach with areas with lower and falling rates in tier two.

“Infection rates in Rossendale whilst still high have been moving in the right direction.

"We have asked government for an £8million financial support package for local businesses.”

Cllr Miles Parkinson, leader of Hyndburn Council, said:“Covid-19 continues to have a large impact and we do not want to prolong this suffering. The sooner we can bring our rates down and get restrictions eased the better. ”

Hyndburn Tory MP Sara Britcliffe said: "I honestly wish that Hyndburn and Haslingden weren't in this position and it hasn't been good to see that has Hyndburn has had some of the highest case rates in the country."