Cllr Rachael Robathan, leader of Westminster City Council said:
“While we all recognise that public safety has to come first - and we will do everything possible to safeguard that - tier three is the last place we wanted to be. It puts some of our businesses, theatres, restaurants, and bars in a fight for survival. We have the biggest hospitality sector in the country - 3,700 licensed venues - which is about to be even harder hit despite our repeated attempts to support it with measures like al fresco dining. Jobs which might have been safeguarded by a pre-Christmas revival are again on the line.
“That’s why I am lobbying the Treasury with urgency to review the central Government grant support our businesses get. The current formula counts resident population, not the number of businesses, and that means we will have just £5m to spread among 39,000 companies in Westminster – that’s only about £130 per business. That cannot be right for a council which collects nearly nine per cent of the country’s business rates, or £2.4 billion, and it risks damaging the vibrant mix of cultural attractions, retail and shops that makes the West End a symbol of global Britain.
“Westminster City Council will support the new health rules and ensure our residents are looked after. Our officers will be out to ensure safety messages are clearly understood and, working with those venues that are open, we manage traffic as safely as possible.
“While the tier 3 rules are clear, the reality is we cannot stop people coming into the West End. This throws into sharp relief the looming safety risks around New Year’s Eve celebrations. I would again appeal to people not to hover in the West End just to see in the New Year - while it goes against the grain of our spirit as a City, the fight against Covid has to be the priority and closely packed crowds simply run the risk of prolonging this tier 3 misery even longer.”