A LEADING councillor is calling on the Government to extend its Eat Out scheme into September for areas with new local restrictions to avoid businesses there "suffering disproportionately".

The "Eat Out To Help Out" initiative launched earlier this week, on Monday, August 3.

It allows customers to get a 50 per cent discount off meals and soft drinks (up to the value of £10 per person) on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays at restaurants, cafés and fast-food chains that have registered for the scheme.

The aim is to help get the hospitality sector back on its feet after the damaging financial effects of the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown.

But, Councillor Andrew Cooper, the Leader of the Green Group on Kirklees Council, feels that places such as his district, Bradford and Calderdale could miss out on this boost.

That is because the Government imposed new restrictions on those areas, as well as Greater Manchester and parts of Lancashire, due to a rise in infection rates.

These guidelines have prevented people from different households, friends and work colleagues meeting up in pubs and restaurants, unlike the rest of the country, according to Cllr Cooper.

With the scheme set to expire at the end of August, and no concrete date for when the restrictions might be loosened, he has called on the Government to extend it into next month for these hard hit areas.

He said: “The ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ scheme, whilst not perfect was meant to provide a stimulus to the hard hit hospitality sector.

“With restrictions now being reintroduced in Kirklees, Calderdale, Bradford, Greater Manchester and parts of Lancashire this has been another big blow to many of these businesses.

“I am asking The Chancellor to extend the scheme to give businesses in our region extra time to recover.

"I’ll be asking leaders of other political groups on Kirklees Council to back my proposal and I will be making contact with other Councils asking for their support as well.

“It would be unfair for these Northern areas to suffer disproportionately due to Government restrictions and so a call for an extension through the whole of September is a perfectly reasonable ask of Government.”

People can still head to restaurants, pubs and cafés with those from their own household.

But dining out is often a pass time shared between friends.

Councillor Anne Hawkesworth (The Independents, Ilkley) is in full support of Cllr Cooper's plea, with many independent businesses in her ward impacted by the restrictions.

She said: "We are slightly differently affected by lockdown also, as many residents have been using their own back gardens to meet family and have afternoon drinks.

"This is now banned, so some are actually almost being forced to go into town to get relief from monotony.

"Once lockdown is lifted it would be great for those who dine out with friends to be able to use the 10 pound offer in groups."

The councillor has called on people to still take advantage of the scheme though, even if they cannot directly meet with other households right now.

She said: "They can even now go into town and take advantage of the concession.

"Most of us in Ilkley know so many people that invariably there will be someone to nod to."