THE Isle of Wight Council has moved to scotch any suggestion it had been putting pressure on a Lake charity to close and said it was 'disappointed' its Covid advice had not been taken in the spirit intended and seeks to clear up any misunderstandings.

Free Food in Sandown — a foodbank providing a lifeline for up to 500 homeless and needy in the Sandown and Lake area each week — yesterday claimed the Isle of Wight Council was attempting to force restrictions on the foodbank's operation, following a complaint lodged from a local councillor.

An Isle of Wight Council spokesperson said: “The council strongly refutes any suggestion it is forcing Free Food in Sandown to close, or placing pressure on it to do so.

Isle of Wight County Press: County Hall, Newport.County Hall, Newport.

“As a council, we have adopted the same approach as taken by the police in helping people to understand the lockdown rules — engage, explain, encourage and only then, enforce.

"We have sought to offer guidance and support to shops and businesses on how best they can ensure they are ‘Covid-safe’ to stop the spread of this devastating virus, protect the NHS and ultimately save lives.

Isle of Wight County Press: Free Food in Sandown.Free Food in Sandown.

“Indeed, the purpose of our officer’s visit on Friday was to advise on how the charity could continue to fulfil its important role distributing food, clothing and other items, in-line with the current national restrictions and in a way that best protects the very people it is helping to support.

“We are disappointed our advice was not taken in the spirit it was intended and will be contacting Free Food in Sandown today (Sunday) to hopefully resolve any misunderstanding.

Isle of Wight County Press: Dott Perrett, who established Free Food in Sandown.Dott Perrett, who established Free Food in Sandown.

“The government has set out the rules that must be observed by businesses and individuals during the national lockdown, and these rules are necessary to protect our community from spreading the virus.

"It is relying on the local authority to help people understand and follow the rules and the council must treat all businesses the same in its approach.

“As the number of cases of Covid-19 on the Island continues to increase, it is of utmost importance we all follow the rules, or else we may come out of national lockdown with more restrictions than before we went in.

Isle of Wight County Press:

“Any business that must close because of the national lockdown, or has its turnover significantly reduced, is likely to be eligible for a business support grant so that it can act responsibly and follow the rules set out for very good reasons.

“We would once again wish to place on record our heartfelt gratitude to all our foodbanks, community groups and charities for their tireless efforts in helping to ensure no one who needs food goes without during these extremely difficult times.

“To this end, we have worked quickly to distribute community funding to where it is needed most and to support their work.”