THE owner of an Oswaldtwistle cattery has told how government rules on coronavirus grants - classing him with town criers - have made it difficult to survive the pandemic.

Craig Dodding is campaigning for a rule change so animal boarding establishments including dog kennels are entitled to the main Whitehall cash support payments.

He has won a promise from Hyndburn Council they will now be automatically considered for discretionary payments.

Mr Dodding - who runs the Rhoden Manor Cattery - believes the businesses should be classed as part of the hospitality and tourism sector and entitled to the Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG) as most of their clients are holidaymakers seeking care for their pets while away from home.

His case was raised at Hyndburn's Full Council meeting on Thursday when Immanuel ward's Cllr Judith Addison asked for town hall help to solve a 'postcode lottery' over payments.

The authority's leader Cllr Miles Parkinson has promised all the borough's kennels and catteries will be eligible for discretionary coronavirus support payments.

Father-of-three Mr Dodding, who founded the UK Alliance of Catteries and Kennels to lobby the government, said: "We have been luckier than many animal boarding establishments.

"We did get a payment of £10,000 when the pandemic started last year and have received other discretionary payments totalling £10,000.

"Some catteries and kennels have received nothing. The current grant system is a lottery and we are grateful to Hyndburn Council for its help.

"If we had been classed by the government as a hospitality and tourism business, which we should be as most of our clients are pet owners going on holiday, we would have been entitled to £35,000 in ARG covering 80 per cent of our lost income.

"Instead we have been lumped in with town criers, shoe polishers and burlesque dancers.

"It has been difficult for us. At times we have been down to two cats staying with us instead of the normal 40."

Cllr Addison said: "Animal boarding establishments like Rhoden Manor seem to have been forgotten by the government grant system.

"It is a postcode lottery. I am glad the council has looked at this."

Cllr Parkinson said: "Hyndburn Council will now automatically consider animal board establishments as eligible for discretionary coronavirus support grants."

Chorley MP and House of Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle is supporting Mr Dodding's campaign for change.