GOVERNMENT 'delay and dithering' had hindered the response to coronavirus a local authority boss has claimed.

Blackburn with Darwen Council leader Cllr Mohammed Khan made the accusation at the borough's executive board meeting on Thursday night.

Giving a report on Covid-19 he said: "I am once again frustrated by the government’s communication and engagement with ourselves and the wider local government sector.

"We are doing everything we can to engage our residents and businesses and keep them up to date.

"But, as has been a common feature throughout the pandemic, the Government’s delayed and dithering response, and conflicting messages makes our job all the more difficult."

He appealed to all those present - including Youth MP Zara Hayat and her deputy Muhammed Bapu - to urge people to get jabbed.

Cllr Khan said: "Our officers have worked tremendously hard to support our residents and businesses throughout this pandemic.

"As with other public sector organisations, we are dealing with a backlog, and rise in demand across many of our services.

"We have therefore allocated resources to manage the increase in demand, and provide capacity to deal with this backlog.

"We will retain resource for front line activity include site marshals, testing teams, public protection, the Help Hub, response and incident management teams.

"We have also made £1.5 million available to support sustained recovery.

"Covid-19 is not going away and it’s likely we will be living alongside it for some time, as new variants continue to emerge.

"The government has identified the borough as an enhanced response area.

"We have already put measures in place to control the spread.

"I wrote to the government last month and urged them to focus their efforts on accelerating both doses of the vaccine and increase our test and trace capacity.

"I am pleased that they have taken note and resulted in pop-up vaccine sites and the military joining our own staff to increase testing capacity.

"Could I take this opportunity to remind all of my colleagues to encourage everyone they know to get tested and get vaccinated."

Cllr Khan agreed with Conservative group leader Cllr John Slater agreed that the work of NHS staff and millions of pounds in government coronavirus grants had made a difference.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokeswoman said: “We are making phenomenal progress through our vaccination programme, including increasing the number of centres and extending opening hours and capacity in Lancashire, including Blackburn with Darwen.


“On top of enhanced vaccine uptake measures, we are working hand-in-hand with local authorities to reduce the spread of variants in the region with a huge number of preventative measures including whole genome sequencing, surge PCR testing and enhanced contact tracing.


“We shared details of the support package with local authority chief executives, directors of public health and local MPs ahead of the public announcement.”