New West End Company attended the Labour and Conservative Party Conferences in Brighton and Manchester recently to promote the case for investment in London’s West End.
Labour Party Conference
At the Labour Party Conference we hosted a private lunch with London’s Deputy Mayor for Business, Rajesh Agrawal entitled ‘International Tourism, Winning the Brexit Bonus’. The lunch was attended by several our members, including John Lewis Partnership, The Crown Estate and Longchamp, as well as the CEO of Heathrow Airport, the Managing Director of Global Blue and Westminster Property Association.
A focused discussion on supporting West End businesses post-Brexit on accessibility, Sunday trading and local job demand ensued. We are pleased to share that the Deputy Mayor agreed to support the Tax Increment Financing (TIF) bid and confirmed that the Mayor will raise the issue with the Prime Minister in a meeting next week.
Conservative Party Conference
This week at the Conservative Party Conference our Chairman Sir Peter Rogers and I hosted a similar session with the Tourism Minister, John Glen MP. Attendees included John Penrose MP, the co-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Best Brexit, the Deputy Leader of Westminster City Council and our members and partners: Selfridges, Global Blue, Heart of London Business Alliance, Heathrow airport, British Airways and The Crown Estate.
A useful exchange on the West End growth agenda took place, with London was championed as key gateway to UK tourism. The need for rapid infrastructure upgrades were pushed for, such as a third runway at Heathrow and improvements to the London Underground.
I also held questions with Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Greg Clark MP, where I raised the issue of business rates reform. He acknowledged the broken system and requirement to modernise with pure online retail paying a greater share and committed to further reforms, hinting at a major announcement around the Autumn Budget.
Conservative Party Conference Fringe Events
We also partnered with Westminster City Council for two fringe events at the Conservative Party Conference on air quality and the West End economy. At the air quality event I highlighted our business-led air quality strategy aimed at consolidating commercial traffic in the area to reduce pollution and vehicle numbers through schemes such as the West End Buyers Club.
At both conferences, I also took the opportunity to hold meetings with key policy makers from Westminster City Council, Mayor’s Office and Government to drive forward the West End growth agenda, confirming its position as one of the top economic centres of the UK.
New West End Company