Local government secretary Robert Jenrick: Get out there and don’t waste the summer
'Streatery' gets renewed in Belsize Park
06 August, 2020 — By Tom Foot
Robert Jenrick MP has lunch with Oliver Cooper, the leader of the Camden Conservatives
A CABINET minister has urged critics of outdoor dining schemes not to “waste the summer” objecting and get their wallets out to help struggling businesses survive.
Local government secretary Robert Jenrick MP said he was happy to dispense with normal procedures if it meant “decisive action” to boost the economy.
The minister ate a few bites of a smoked salmon bagel at Roni’s while chatting to Camden Conservative leader Councillor Oliver Cooper during a tour of the Belsize Village “streatery” on Thursday.
The outdoor scheme, organised by the Belsize Village Business Association, has faced criticism from some residents for the way it was imposed on the area without meaningful consultation.
But Mr Jenrick said: “We are living through a global pandemic. We have to do everything we can to support businesses in this community and help people get out and about again. People I have spoken to today are loving it. They are hoping this can go on for longer.
Mr Jenrick tackles a bagel
“I would say to these people, if you want these businesses to continue, these cafés and restaurants to still be here, we have to get them open. We need to get people eating and drinking in them. We have got to act quickly and decisively and enable communities to come together again. We cannot waste the summer.”
The outdoor dining scheme in Belsize Village – open until 10pm seven days a week – was introduced as a trial by the Town Hall in June. It has this week been approved to go on until at least the end of September.
Mr Jenrick added: “Really, these changes aren’t being imposed on people. Councils can, if they want, say no to any applications for outdoor tables and chairs, if for example they can get in the way of the disabled. We have tried to make it as light touch as we possibly can.”
Asked what the government was doing to help al fresco dining in poorer neighbourhoods that do not have quiet cul de sacs or a village feel, Mr Jenrick said: “The same principle applies to everywhere in the country, affluent areas or not.”
Robert Stephenson-Padron from the Belsize Village Business Association said: “July 30 was a special milestone for Belsize Village – it marked Belsize Village’s first ministerial visit in modern history and marked the most economic activity on any evening in the village possibly ever, at least as far back as 2005.”
Co-coordinator Aya Khazaal added: “It was heartbreaking to see the damage caused by the pandemic to life, livelihoods and our local economy.”
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