Business

Get out and show Londoners the city is safe, business leaders tell Boris Johnson and Sadiq Khan

Employers groups also criticised “muddle” in the Government’s back-to-work message

Business leaders today called on Boris Johnson and Sadiq Khan to show leadership to a nervous public by visiting the West End and highlighting safety improvements on public transport.

Employers groups also criticised “muddle” in the Government’s back-to-work message and called for a clear narrative that people should feel safe travelling into London.

Simon Thomas, CEO of the Hippodrome Casino, said: “We need national and London politicians to get on public transport and physically tour the West End — we want to see demonstration, not proclamation, from them.”

He added: “People are very quick to compare the current situation with the Second World War. Well, it’s high time Boris Johnson and Mayor Sadiq Khan visited the West End and ‘looked us in the face’, and confirmed they’re standing alongside us and we’re very much back in business.”

John Dickie, director of policy at London First, said the future prosperity of the capital “relies on getting more people back to their workplaces more often.”

He warned: “Government needs to end its messaging muddle. Businesses and employees need clear, consistent and unambiguous messaging from central and London governments, supporting the safe return on public transport.”

Figures compiled by the Heart of London Business Alliance, which represents firms trading in the West End, show footfall there is about 50 per cent lower than a year ago, compared with 95 per cent down in April. The area around Leicester Square, Soho and Piccadilly Circus was down by 49 per cent a week ago compared with a year ago. Bond Street was down 35 per cent, Regent Street 55 per cent and Oxford Street 54 per cent.

However, some Tube stations — including Bond Street, Marble Arch and Oxford Circus — were over 10 per cent busier last week than a year ago.

Alistair Elliott, group chairman of Knight Frank, said: “Getting back to normal as quickly as possible is crucial or else the circumstances might become irreversible and much more damaging to health and well-being than any virus could possibly be.” Knight Frank opened its offices across the UK on June 10. Ray Newton, of Edwardian Hotels London, said rebuilding confidence in public transport was “key to getting the city back up on its feet”. Ros Morgan, chief executive of Holba, urged “a major campaign” to highlight massive safety improvements made to public transport in London. “While the promotion of walking and cycling routes are important, public transport is key to getting people into the city centre from outside Zones 1 and 2.”

Prince William’s former private secretary today said he was “honoured” after being confirmed as the UK’s top civil servant. Simon Case was appointed Cabinet Secretary and Head of the Civil Service as part of a shake-up by Boris Johnson and his most senior adviser Dominic Cummings.