The King's Speech - Thursday 7 November 2023

Read our Chief Executive, Dee Corsi’s comments following The King’s Speech at the Houses of Parliament earlier today (7 November).

Dee Corsi, Chief Executive, New West End Company, said:

"The new regulation for pedicabs will be welcomed by businesses and members of the public alike. The licensing system which has been fought hard for by Westminster City Council and Nickie Aiken MP, will have an immediate, positive impact for the West End, which did not previously have the power to regulate the vehicles directly. However, with the Transport Bill no longer being prioritised by the Government, e-bikes remain an outstanding issue and we would urge a review of how they are regulated without delay.

Whilst we were pleased that tackling crime and anti-social behaviour was prioritised in the King’s Speech today, we were disappointed by the lack of clarity on how the urgent issue of retail crime will be addressed. In particular, we would welcome more stringent sentencing for prolific offenders, alongside further funding commitments from the Government to ensure adequate police resource is available for retailers which need real-time support.

The absence of any announcement on tax-free shopping is a missed opportunity for economic recovery and long-term fiscal health. The ongoing cost-of-living crisis and high inflation is having a marked impact on British consumer spending, as domestic shoppers tighten their belts. Against this backdrop, international shoppers are critical to the sustained success of the entire tourism eco-system – from independent retailers to cultural attractions and regional manufacturing hubs. The time to act is now, to avert further damage and secure a competitive edge for the UK.

The short-sighted omission of fundamental business rates reform is yet another concern. We were disappointed that there was no indication that the Government would reform business rates in the months ahead. Instead, it seems the most we can hope for is a short-term freeze which will only benefit small to medium businesses and leave larger high-street retailers out in the cold. With businesses already being impacted by challenging macro-economic conditions, we need fundamental reform."