Meeting aims to stop future demonstrations damaging trade for retailers in London’s West End.
London Mayor Boris Johnson has vowed to protect retailers from political protests and demonstrations, which have damaged trade for retailers in London’s West End.
Johnson said the meeting will be chaired by deputy mayor for policing Kit Malthouse and include representatives from the Metropolitan Police and local authorities. It will explore ways of preventing the disorder at recent protests from occurring again.
Details of the meeting came as it was revealed that retail spend in the West End dropped 4.8% year on year in March. Tough trading conditions took a toll, and the hijacking by anarchists of a TUC protest march against Government cuts on March 26 resulted in rioting that disrupted retailers’ business.
Johnson said: “We are having a conversation with the police and [business improvement agency] the New West End Company to make sure there is no repeat of the events of a few weeks ago.”
New West End Company chairman Dame Judith Mayhew Jonas said changes to march routes will be explored because “the West End is a place for families at the weekend”. She added that in the past, marches have been routed away from the main shopping district.
Both were speaking at the unveiling of plans to boost trading in the West End with traffic-free events. There will be a car-free weekend on December 10 and 11 and, for the first time, the district - including Oxford Street and Regent Street - will be pedestrianised on Boxing Day, the busiest shopping day of the year. It is hoped this will put an extra £50m through stores’ tills.
Johnson said: “I am delighted we have secured two new dates for the popular traffic-free events, which will give retailers a major boost and set the tills ringing in the West End.”
Marks & Spencer retail director Steve Rowe, who attended the launch, said he would like every weekend in December to be traffic free to maximise visitor numbers.
The New West End Company is also running a travel advice campaign, designed to allay concerns over the disruption being caused by the Crossrail development and works on the Tube.