October Update from Chief Executive, Jace Tyrrell

With the clocks going back this weekend, it is becoming starkly clear how fortunate we were that our first lockdown occured in the heat of summer in comparison to the dark and rainy days that we have been seeing over the past few weeks.

From all levels of Government we are hearing warnings of a long and difficult winter, one that no doubt will test the physical, mental and economic health of London. This month, we moved up to Tier 2, with increasesd restrictions place on our already struggling businesses, particularly in the hospitality sector. With this in mind, despite some initial confusion, we were pleased this week that Government confirmed that indoor business lunches & dinners are still permitted for up to six people, which we hope will be a small glint of good news to our valued hospitality venues in our district. 

While we do welcome a more structural response to lockdown, along with the Chancellor’s further measures announced yesterday, on your behalf we are continuing to push Government to regularly review the current restrictions and guidance, and ensure that they continue to provide financial measures to support West End businesses through the uncertainty over the coming months as we face not only a challenging Christmas period, but also the challenges of the impending Brexit deadline, less than three months away.

Our Tax-Free Shopping campaign, now in its fifth week, has gained momentum, and we have seen traction from Treasury officials while we focus on engaging MPs from regions that will be severely impacted through supply chains and job losses. This week, a pre-action protocol letter was issued for a Judicial Review of the Government’s decision making process on the issue . As we enter the second month of this campaign with renewed vigour, we are focussed on maintaining and increasing the pressure on Government to ultimately persuade Ministers to revese this decision. If you would like to discuss this campaign in more detail please contact Paul Barnes, Head of Advocacy at New West End Company at pauldavoutbarnes@gmail.com.

We  are also continuing to campaign for an extension to the current business rates relief, beyond April 2021, with the final goal of complete reform of this antiquated tax. We urge all businesses to respond to the Government’s call for evidence, which you can find out more about here.

In the more immediate term, we are working closely with our partners at Westminster City Council on ways that we can best support businesses and boost the trading environment over the Christmas period. Despite London moving up a tier level, the West End is, and will remain, open to our colleagues and customers this Christmas, with festive and magical moments that are unique to our district returning to our streets. We are actively promoting this messaging to encourage Londoner’s to support our businesses and enjoy the Christmas experience in the West End.

Last week we launched both our Christmas Guide, which you can view below, and announced the date for the switch on of the Oxford Street Christmas Lights, which was covered in Time Out and Secret London. From 2 November, our district will begin to light up, ecouraging visitors to enjoy an earlier, longer and safer Christmas season.

Finally, next month, we are pleased to welcome Andy Byford, the new Tranport Commissioner to our final West End Resilience LIVE of the year. This will be a fantastic opportunity for you, our members, to hear more about the short & long term challenges and opportunities for Transport for London, and to ask any questions you have on the work being done by TfL to support our district now and in the future. Click here for further information and look out for your invitation early next week.

Yours in Partnership,

Fri 23 October 2020