A group of businesses close to the Blackburn with Darwen border have joined forces to highlight the “unfairness” of hospitality restrictions in Bolton.

The Spread Eagle, The Nook & Cranny, Real Axe in Bromley Cross and Baker’s in Egerton have penned a letter to government ministers urging them to review the current measures in place for the borough.

In Bolton, hospitality venues must only provide take away food and drinks or delivery services to customers. But in neighbouring Blackburn with Darwen, pubs and restaurants are allowed to stay open until 10pm.

Angela Baker, who runs Baker’s with husband Jason in Blackburn Road, said: “We have pushed and pushed and been in constant contact with (council leader) Cllr David Greenhalgh who has been working tirelessly to help us all.

“We just keep being told that the scientists are saying the rate is too high, which we get, but the disparity between us and everywhere else is so frustrating. Takeaway isn’t working for us in this area as people can go up the road to an open pub. We just want an even playing field. A curfew would be fine for us, but we were forced into closing and now we’ve got to look after our staff most importantly.

“Bromley Cross and Egerton have grown so much in the last four years with great independent bars and restaurants ­— there’s a real buzz here ­— and we all help each other out, but there’s a real danger now that independent places across the borough, and the towns they are in, will need a lot of help to regenerate after this.”

The letter, signed by the four pub owners, ends: “We urge you to review the fairness of these decisions, reflect on the lack of support being offered, the financial, long term impact and as a matter of urgency arrange for an appropriate support package and either the lifting of the restrictions or a fair system that sees everyone shutdown at the same point.”

Bolton Council leader, Cllr David Greenhalgh, told BBC News yesterday that people in the town felt “forgotten.

He added: “These are people who have put their life savings into business ventures that are successful but are just not now being allowed to operate, and the Government, I plead with them, they now need to recognise this huge disparity, this inequality, which is unacceptable.”

Bolton recorded 595 new cases in the seven days to September 26, the equivalent of 206.9 cases per 100,000 people, down from 221.9 per 100,000 in the seven days to September 19 whereas in Blackburn with Darwen in the 7 days to the September 26, 251 people tested positive for Covid, which represents a weekly rate of 167.7 cases per 100,000 residents.