On Thursday the 20th of August, Minister for London Paul Scully visited businesses across South Bank to discuss the issues currently faced by Central London SME businesses due to the continuing effects of Covid-19, and the innovative measures they are taking to welcome visitors back into London safely.
The visit was arranged and lead by South Bank Employers’ Group, the delivery agent for the BID, to highlight steps that have been taken area-wide to ensure South Bank is perceived as safe and secure for visitors. This included an introduction to representatives from South Bank Patrol and South Bank Clean Team, both funded by the BID, who explained the growing importance of keeping South Bank clean for visitors since lockdown and the diverse challenges South Bank faces currently, from petty crime and illegal raves through to begging and homelessness.
The Minister visited both new and established business to understand the initiatives they had put in place to allow their customers to safely enjoy their Summer in South Bank. After beginning his visit in Southwark, the Minister spoke to representatives from OXO Tower Wharf, including Coin Street Community Centre, the gift shop Brand Academy, and OXO Tower, Bar and Restaurant, to understand how independent businesses and social enterprises were tackling current circumstances, including setting up new revenue streams and participating in the Eat Out to Help Out scheme.
The visit then moved on to Limin’ Beach Club, a new Caribbean themed experiential restaurant in Gabriel’s Wharf, to discuss the opportunities that have become available for new establishments in the area. The final stop of the visit was street-culture led destination Leake Street Arches, where the minister spoke to representatives from landowner LCR, the UK Government’s Placemaking Expert, on how they have been working with their tenants to make the area safe, alongside the owner of the recently reopened Board Game café Draughts, also based in the arches.
Throughout the visit the focus was also on the further steps that need to be taken to advocate for the particular circumstances that Central London businesses currently face. Nic Durston, Chief Executive of South Bank Employers’ Group, said, “We were delighted to welcome the Minister and his Policy team for such a meaningful period of time. It was reassuring to hear that the challenges South Bank and Central London in general now face are being carefully considered by Central Government and we look forward to fostering a closer working relationship with Minister Scully as we address Central London’s collective recovery from this pandemic.”