// Nickie Aiken, MP for Cities of London and Westminster, calls for extending Sunday trading in central London by 2 hours
// She says it will “provide a major boost to the economy” amid the coronavirus pandemic
// Aiken would welcome the current business rate freeze being extended for another 12 months
Extending Sunday trading in parts of London by two hours would “provide a major boost to the economy” amid the coronavirus pandemic, a Tory MP has said.
Nickie Aiken, MP for Cities of London and Westminster, warned that despite the government’s “unprecedented” support for business, “central London is still struggling”.
Speaking to the Commons, Aiken said later Sunday trading would have a “knock on effect for bars and restaurants” as she outlined a list of measures which she said the government “may wish to consider that could help protect jobs and businesses”.
- Retail sales jump in August as online boom offsets struggling high streets (BRC)
- Retail sales return to pre-pandemic levels, except for high street fashion (ONS)
- Footfall “not returning” to city centres as office staff stay home
“Adding an additional two hours at the end of Sunday trading, extending it from 6pm to 8pm would provide a major boost to the economy,” she said.
“Now while I appreciate that this is quite controversial for some of my colleagues, I would like to make it clear that I’m only calling for it at this moment for international designated areas such as Knightsbridge and the West End.
“I’m sure there would be a knock on effect for bars and restaurants as people decide to travel to central London later and enjoy a meal and drinks once the shops close.”
She added: “We must ensure that London is seen to be open to the world so that it can continue to compete with other global cities such as New York, Paris and Tokyo.
“I would ask the Government to consider these measures as I have suggested in order to protect both London’s position as a global cultural hub and the UK’s standing as a major business and visitor destination, safeguarding millions of jobs and livelihoods across the nation.”
Pre-Covid she noted over 600,000 commuters came into Westminster every day to work, another 500,000 in the City of London.
“The local economy relies on these small workers spending in small shops and independent cafes and restaurants, but they are not coming back in the same numbers,” Aiken said.
“Central London is the economic powerhouse of UK plc, driving forward this government’s levelling up agenda and is usually a first out of the traps following recession or downturn, sadly this time it looks like we will be amongst one of the last.”
She said the furlough scheme had secured jobs in the West End, but added: “As the MP for Theatreland, I want to make sure that we can protect the theatres even more so and I welcome the Government’s £1.5 billion cultural support package, but I hope that we can keep the theatres open when they come back in the new year and a bit more help for them would be welcome.”
Aiken also said she would welcome the current business rate freeze being extended for another 12 months.
with PA Wires