DINERS have led the charge to help Bury on the path to recovery from the economic devastation wreaked by the coronavirus lockdown.

More people in Bury took part in the Eat Out to Help Out scheme than any other Greater Manchester borough, according to think tank Centre for Cities’ High Street Recovery Tracker.

It also saw the biggest jump in the number of diners visiting restaurants and other eateries, compared to figures from before the scheme was announced, with footfall increasing by eight per cent.

The tracker examines anonymised mobile phone data from a company called Locomizer, which provides insights into retail footfall.

Bury was ranked third for overall recovery score, as high street footfall returned to 75 per cent of pre-lockdown levels by the end of August.

Only Wigan and Ashton-under-Lyne ranked higher, securing scores of 102 and 77 per cent respectively.

At its worst Bury’s footfall dropped to just 17 per cent of what it had been before lockdown was announced, amidst the height of the pandemic.

But even then it still continued to outperform Manchester, Stockport, Altrincham, Oldham and Bolton.

Councillor Jane Black, Bury’s cabinet member for the Cultural Economy, said: “We are very pleased to see footfall returning to our town centres.

“It reflects the appeal of the borough’s high streets, as well as the hard work that Bury Council and businesses have been and are undertaking to encourage people to visit safely.”

Centre for Cities, however, suggested that the data gathered for Bury may present more of a mixed picture for the future of the borough’s high streets.

The report said: “Even though office workers are at home, they are not visiting their local town centres as much as we may have expected – and overall visits to local centres are still lower than they were in February.”

It further noted that many Greater Manchester high streets were struggling before lockdown, adding: “A recovery in footfall has not changed this.

“Therefore, boosting visitor numbers is only the first step in levelling up these places and should not be the sole priority for policy makers in the months ahead.”

To help Bury’s high street’s recover, the local authority has instituted a number of measures and means of support, Cllr Black said.

These have included Growth and Recovery Boards, a stewarding programme, a Reopening High Streets Safely Fund and Business Resilience Clinics.

Cllr Black added: “We have strived to make each township safe so people are confident to return.

“As a local authority we will continue to be flexible and adaptable, given the fluid nature of the current situation, to reinforce a change from ‘usual behaviours’, particularly on those streets with high levels of activity.”