LEADERS have pleaded with grieving families to mourn safely after concerns were raised about a substantial gathering in Shipley.

The group, who appeared to have travelled by car, were seen mixing together outside Owlet Hall Social Club with balloons on Monday afternoon in what is understood to be a memorial event.

Nearby residents, who were concerned about the lack of social distancing, said the group were letting off balloons to commemorate the death of a loved one.

In times which will continue to present hopeless situations to families, councillors and MPs have urged people to observe social distancing measures and not risk the spread of coronavirus under any circumstance, no matter how tough.

Councillor Alex Ross-Shaw (Labour, Windhill & Wrose), who is also the council's executive member for regeneration, planning and transport, said: "It’s obviously very sad but at this time all residents must observe the physical distancing, whatever the reason.

"It’s not because the government, police or council are trying to be awkward, it is genuinely to preserve life and make sure our NHS has enough beds free to look after those people who do become seriously ill with COVID-19.

"This lockdown won’t last forever, and we hope to be soon out and about again but until that time everyone must think of themselves and each other and stay home.”

Residents had reported their concerns about the gathering to the police over fears of increased exposure to others.

Officers found the car park to be empty upon arrival with no trace of the family.

Philip Davies, the MP for Shipley, backed the claims and reiterated the Government's message to 'stay home, protect the NHS and save lives'.

Mr Davies said: “Of course it is especially hard for families when it comes to memorials or funerals or other such occasions but it is vital that people maintain social distancing at all times. The more rigorous the rules are applied now the fewer deaths we will see and the sooner the lockdown can end.

“By and large the lockdown rules have been observed incredibly well by the overwhelming majority of people, and I appeal for people to continue to follow the rules whatever the extenuating circumstances”

West Yorkshire Police is dealing with reports of people gathering in large groups and those who breach current coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions.

People can alert the force to an ongoing incident by messaging West Yorkshire Police's 101 live web chat facility or by filling in the online form on the West Yorkshire Police website, where people can also report breaches of coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions.

A spokesperson for West Yorkshire Police explained: "West Yorkshire Police officers have increased their visible reassurance presence in communities and where they come across people who are ignoring the request for self-isolation, we will deal with it appropriately.

"We are doing this in a coordinated way, which ensures our officers are deployed in the most effective manner."

If you are grieving in the pandemic and need support, charity Cruse Bereavement Care's national helpline is open Monday-Friday 9.30-5pm on 0808 808 1677.