Basingstoke council's leader says he is "massively disappointed" with reports that the end of lockdown could be delayed by four weeks, calling it the wrong decision.

Conservative Ken Rhatigan said that "this has to be the last of the delays" and "we need to be reopened as soon as we can".

It comes as Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to announce this evening that the planned removal of the final lockdown restrictions on June 21 will be put back four weeks to July 19.

It has been reported he is concerned with a rise in cases of the Delta variant, first seen in India, which is 60 per cent more transmissible than the previously dominant Kent variant.

Mr Johnson is also expected to announce the delay so more people can be vaccinated before the final restrictions are eased.

Speaking to The Gazette, Cllr Rhatigan said that his personal view was that so-called Freedom Day should go ahead on June 21.

He said: "I am massively disappointed. It is a bitter blow for the hospitality industry and people who have made plans to have weddings or people round to their house. This will come as a blow to them.

"We haven't yet heard from the PM and it must be on the basis of the figures.

"I would have preferred it if he said it was two weeks rather than four weeks because people are taking getting vaccinated seriously.

"We need to be reopened as a nation as soon as we can.

"This has to be the last of the delays," he added.

Currently, England is at step 3 of the roadmap out of lockdown, which came into effect on May 17.

Gatherings of over 30 people remain illegal and the rule of six applies indoors.

Meanwhile, indoor hospitality was able to reopen last month, and overnight stays were allowed.

Step 4 would have seen the end of legal restrictions on gatherings and the end of the work from home advice.

Meanwhile, social distancing and mask wearing could have been reviewed, whilst nightclubs would have been able to reopen.

Speaking about the upcoming summer holidays, Cllr Rhatigan said that he hoped lockdown would end before schools finished, adding: "If people don't get a proper break how are they going to go back to education refreshed?

"People are getting tired of the restrictions and people want to go out and do things with their friends.

"People shouldn't be sneaking around to gardens to watch the football or worrying about hugging people not in their bubble when celebrating a goal."