THE leader of Bolton Council has joined Metro Mayor Andy Burnham in calling for ‘targeted support’ for the borough and Greater Manchester’s hard-hit hospitality industry.

Bar and restaurant owners have shared their concerns with The Bolton News amid renewed coronavirus restrictions. Several exemptions have been made for pubs and eateries but bookings have still been affected as consumer confidence takes another hammering in the run-up to Christmas.

Conservative council leader Cllr Martyn Cox and Labour Metro Mayor Andy Burnham have now united to back demands for Chancellor Rishi Sunak to intervene and restore financial assistance to the beleaguered sector.

Cllr Cox, the Greater Manchester Combined Authority’s culture portfolio lead, said: “I fully support the GMCA’s call for further targeted economic support. This is a rapidly changing situation which has had a devastating effect on hospitality, the people who work within the sector and beyond.

“Leaders from the industry were hoping that a busy Christmas would help them recover some of the damage sustained during an incredibly difficult 2020. This period usually allows businesses to build a buffer for the quieter spell during first few months of the new year. Instead they’re now facing a crisis situation which demands crisis measures.”

Mr Burnham added: “We’re calling on the Government to recognise that if you change the advice you need to deal with the consequences. The Chancellor needs to ensure people who have seen their incomes fall off a cliff due to their hours being reduced or being sent home are given the support they need to avoid Christmases being ruined.

“Any support measures must also take the widest possible view. Hospitality is the most severely affected sector, but economic support needs to be targeted at all businesses who have been impacted by the change in advice. Action needs to be taken now to help the people and businesses facing a bleak Christmas.”

Eighty per cent of city region hospitality and hotel businesses recently surveyed said they had suffered cancellations in the wake of the new ‘Plan B’ restrictions, including axed Christmas parties.