Sohoites will know there’s been a long-standing battle to stop the Coach & Horses being taken over by pubco Fuller’s. It’s been inspiring to see so many people rally around the campaign to keep the Coach independent. 10,000 people have signed the petition and the campaign has received massive support in the media.
I’m pleased I’ve been able to support the campaign. I got Westminster City Council to publicly back the campaign when I asked the Cabinet Member for local businesses to sign the petition and write to Fuller’s. I also supported the bid to make the Coach an Asset of Community Value (ACV) and I’m really pleased ACV status was granted.
But at the time of writing things aren’t looking up for the pub. Fuller’s seem intent on taking over. By the time this edition of the Clarion is printed, they may well have installed their own management.
This is very frustrating. Despite massive public outcry, Fuller’s have refused to come to the table and negotiate. They’ve refused to listen to the community.
This points to a deeper issue in Soho. Big business – whether its developers, pubcos, or restaurant chains – often imposes its will on the community and disregard what local people want. As one resident put it to me recently, many big businesses don’t see Soho the same way we do. For them, Soho is a spreadsheet. It’s just numbers; there to make them a profit. It’s been a similar story elsewhere, including with the hotel development at 90-104 Berwick Street.
In my role as a Labour councillor for Soho, I will always be on the side of the Soho community, whether its small businesses or residents. I will work with the community to stand up for Soho and stand up to big business when they behave irresponsibly and impose their will unilaterally.
I’m pleased that as a result of Labour campaigning, we’re seeing some steps in the right direction. For one, the Conservatives at Westminster Council finally agreed to make Soho into a ‘Special Policy Area’ after we campaigned hard to give Soho a special status in planning terms. This will help stop more big hotels being built in Soho and help support independent businesses. Plus, special emphasis will be given to building affordable homes.
But there’s so much more to do. The Conservatives are in power at Westminster Council and their instincts are to side with moneyed interests and the ultra-wealthy. My commitment as a Labour councillor is to always work on behalf of the interests of the community and represent the local community’s aspirations and vision for Soho.
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I have an email newsletter that comes out once a month. Please write to me if you’d like me to add your email to my list. You can also contact me if you have any issues or problems I can help you with.
I hold monthly advice surgeries every third Saturday of the month:
· Between 10-11am at Danceworks, 16 Balderton Street, Mayfair, London W1K 6TN; and
· Between 11.30-12.30 noon at 68 Dean Street, Soho, W1D 4QJ
Phone number: 020 7641 5377 (Members’ Team)