Businesses hit by riot threat

Elizabeth Fournier
BUSINESS groups in London warned yesterday that ongoing riots in the capital could add to the UK’s economic woes, as more high street stores were vandalised and looted by rioters.

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) reacted strongly to the outbreaks of vandalism, saying struggling shops would be hit hardest by the damage.

“Clearly, with high streets under pressure anyway, at least some of the businesses destroyed will not be able to re-establish themselves, causing long-term damage,” said Stephen Robertson, director general of the BRC.

Many shops and restaurants across London closed early last night on police advice, though several local business owners said they had been told this was largely a “precautionary” measure.

“We are liaising with businesses and communities across London, including at a borough level to keep people up to date with what we are doing,” said the Met Police’s deputy assistant commissioner Steve Kavanagh.

Despite reports that damage had been done to retail outlets on Oxford Street overnight on Sunday, the New West End Company – which represents retailers across the shopping district – said that there had been no damage to property, and business was continuing as usual in the area.

“Retailers are aware of and prepared for these kind of incidents,” said chief executive Richard Dickinson. “We’ve had no intelligence to suggest anything will happen in this area.”

National Rail said last night it had closed more than 10 London stations “for safety and security reasons”, with Barking, Harrow-on-the-Hill and Bethnal Green all affected by the closures.

Police last night ordered all London football clubs to call off matches, in an attempt to curtail the spread of violence.