The weeks and months ahead will be incredibly challenging for hospitality businesses, and indeed businesses in many other sectors. We therefore back measures to support hospitality businesses into the winter months – including measures to allow for low-carbon outdoor heaters and widened pavements.
However, support for hospitality businesses can’t end there. To get through the months ahead, hospitality businesses need proper financial support and they need to be able to be able to plan. Unfortunately, central government is not giving hospitality the financial package it needs; UK Hospitality’s demands from government are outlined hereand provide details about the kind of support that should be given. Similarly, government is giving businesses insufficient time to plan. It is unacceptable that hospitality businesses were only given two days to plan for the shift from tier 1 to 2.
We want to hear the Council make the case publicly about the need for central government to step up its game. This should involve joining forces with other local leaders and the Mayor. Indeed, Westminster Council should join the Mayor of London in publicly calling for a serious injection of cash for businesses in London.
Turning to local issues there needs to be better management of areas where hospitality schemes operate. Westminster Council needs to demonstrate it has fully understood the concerns of local communities, especially concerns that have been expressed following the end of the summer al fresco scheme. Social distancing has all too often not been respected and we really need more decisive action on this front. This is even more important given we’re in tier 2 and the spread of the virus looks likely to continue to increase.
The 10pm curfew continues to cause issues, with large crowds gathering outside of pubs, bars and off-licenses after 10. The Council should be calling for powers to police off-license sales to be devolved to local authorities so they can more effectively police this problem.
Finally, with respect to the statement about looking to develop tailored schemes to close off specific roads to traffic with local support, we support this in principle but the key point here is that it needs to be managed and implemented effectively. There should be proper planning, sufficient resources for enforcement, and genuine consultation and engagement of local communities. If these three things don’t happen then getting local buy-in won’t be possible.