DOZENS of leading figures from London’s restaurants and clubs have written to Boris Johnson and Sadiq Khan demanding urgent action to save the capital from remaining a “ghost town” for the rest of the year.
They warn that “immediate action must be taken” to prevent huge job losses and help the capital to lead the national economic recovery out of the worst recession on record.
The letter is signed by high-profile chefs and restaurateurs including Murano’s Michelin-starred Angela Hartnett, Fergus Henderson and Trevor Gulliver of St. John, Chris and Jeff Galvin of Galvin at Windows, and Oliver Milburn, Tom Mullion and Tim Steel of Kitty Fisher’s, as well as the Soho House clubs boss Nick Jones.
Westminster council unveiled its own plans to try to attract diners and drinkers back earlier this month.
They include closing roads in Soho and Covent Garden and making it easier to obtain a licence for outdoor tables and chairs.
The City of London Corporation says it is looking at similar measures.
The letter from hospitality bosses includes an emergency action plan to help central London draw back visitors. Among the 10 points are calls for stronger encouragement from the Government for workers to return to offices, scrapping quarantine for all foreign visitors and suspending the congestion charge.
Fergus Henderson and Gizzi Erskine
The letter says: “While scenes of mobbed urban parks and packed seaside towns fill our screens, the centre of London remains a ghost town.”
It adds: “The Government’s message is a confusing one. The dithering is not helping the economy get back on its feet, and it is not instilling confidence in the public to visit the attractions, theatres, museums, galleries, cinemas, hotels, restaurants and bars that we are so proud of and that makes London the greatest of capitals.”
The letter concludes that unless there is action, “London will not be able to lead a national recovery this time, as it has in the past, and many operators won’t make it to the end of the year.”