Monday 10 August 2020 3:52 pm

London restaurants urge Sadiq Khan to drop congestion charge

London’s restaurants and bars have called on Sadiq Khan to drop the congestion charge and encourage public transport use to boost visitor numbers following months of coronavirus lockdown. 

In a letter signed by top chefs and restaurateurs, including St John’s co-founder Trevor Gulliver, Angela Hartnett and D&D London’s David Loewi, the industry has urged Khan to “rise to the challenge” to welcome visitors back to the capital. 

Read more: London calling: Why it’s time to bring life back to our city’s streets

“Leave the bunker, rise to the challenge, let the world and the suburbs and the home counties see that we are getting ready to welcome back all and will impose the necessary practices to make the environment as safe as we can,” the letter said. 

A failure to act could set London restaurants’ recovery from coronavirus back by as much as three years, Gulliver told City A.M.

“It is going to be a disaster for some businesses,” he said. 

The latest data from Springboard showed that retail footfall in the UK was up 3.8 per cent last week, but by just 1.8 per cent in Greater London. 

It comes after industry body UK Hospitality wrote to Khan in July. It

It demanded urgent improvements to the “insufficient and inadequate” support provided for struggling London restaurants and bars after the coronavirus lockdown.

Khan said today that getting businesses and venues thriving in central London again “should now be an urgent priority”.

“If more people aren’t confident the virus is under control, our wonderful eco system of shops, bars, cafes and cultural venues is at risk of a damaging slump that could take years to recover from”, he told City A.M. 

Read more: Sadiq Khan: Saving London’s shops and cafes is ‘urgent priority’

Meanwhile, the capital’s events industry will light up iconic venues including the Royal Festival Hall, the National Theatre and the Tate in red tomorrow night in a “final call to action”.

The sector has warned it is on the verge of collapse without financial support from the government. 

Tomorrow’s event comes ahead of the end of the self-employed income support scheme and the government’s job retention scheme in October.