Last week we had the exciting confirmation of the fixtures that will be held at Leigh Sports Village as part of the Rugby League World Cup.

We already knew the borough will host the Lebanon team for the tournament but we now look forward to seeing Wales, Ireland, Cook Islands and Jamaica at the LSV.

The tournament will be a fantastic spectacle and this announcement certainly adds to the anticipation.

This borough is the home of rugby league and I know our residents will help contribute to a successful competition both on and off the pitch.

You may have seen that we recently also had confirmation from the government that the council would receive a third tranche of financial support in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic – around £3m.

This brings the total we have received to around £22m and there were further details of how we may be able to claim some lost income costs.

We are still calculating how much this will benefit our budgets but – while the funding package is welcome – the fact remains that we will be facing significant savings targets next year.

Our latest estimates are that tackling the pandemic will cost the council £40m this year and we have set an initial savings target for 2021/22 of around £20m.

Given that the message earlier this year was that local government would get ‘whatever it takes’ to fund the response efforts, these figures fall short and we will be faced with some extremely difficult decisions.

n Last week saw more developments surrounding the future of Wigan Athletic.

Firstly, we were encouraged by the update from the administrators that a preferred bidder had been chosen, but after talks broke down discussions are now taking place with other parties.

As it stands – pending the appeal to the EFL– the club will be playing in League One next season.

But one thing we can say for certain is Paul Cook and his squad have performed magnificently in recent weeks. I must reserve a special mention also for the efforts of the supporters’ club and the fanbase as a whole in raising such huge sums to support the club. It has been remarkable.

n Lockdown measures continue to be eased and it is encouraging to see more businesses across the borough back trading. We must remain cautious though, with what has happened in Blackburn recently – a reminder that the virus has not gone away.

We continue to urge everyone to be responsible and to remember our Be Kind message – whether it be through wearing facemasks in public spaces to keeping social distancing at the forefront of their minds – to make sure infection rates continue to fall.