Manchester restaurateur and chef Simon Wood has spoken out against the government’s lack of supportfor hospitality, threatening that if he is forced to close without a proper financial support package he is of a mind to ‘tell them to shove it’.
Tweeting ‘they can fine me if they want’, he added ‘maybe everyone should do it until they support us properly.’
His furious comments follow a week of mounting pressure on the government to introduce a proper financial support package for the sector, and come amid numerous allegations of a ‘lockdown by stealth’.
Speaking to ITV on Monday night the chef went even further, taking a dig at both the lack of support provided to the sector so far and at plans being floated this week, which suggest new draft regulations would ban indoor mixing except for work purposes, and pubs and restaurants would be limited to outdoor service only.
“Hospitality is a safe environment. If it’s deemed not safe then support it financially and close it for the good of the public. No decent operator in the entire country’s going to argue with that,” he said.
‘The fact of the matter is, though, they’ve been told people not to go out.
“We’re in a stealth lockdown and we’re suffering and bearing the brunt of it – it’s really, really concerning that we don’t know what’s coming next and there’s mutings of outdoor dining, erm, I’m not sure I know many people that would come for a 12-course tasting menu on the balmy streets of Manchester in January.”
Making a reference to the recent allegations of rule-breaking in Downing Street, he added, “to be honest, without any kind of evidence, without everyone following the same set of rules, why should we – why should we jeopardise the businesses that we work night and day to keep afloat and we have done for more than just the past two years?”
“Forget the pandemic, hospitality is a tough industry with very low margins, we work very hard for very little a lot of the time. So you know it’s important that if they aren’t going to support us that we stand together as an industry and make a collective stance”.
Simon Wood is just one figure who has been vocal in speaking out about the need for better support in recent weeks.
He’s been joined by the likes of Andy Burnham and Sacha Lord, both of whom have been calling for an increase in support since the arrival of Omicron in England, which was the first catalyst for a drop-off in restaurant and Christmas party bookings.
In response to the suggestion that a return to outdoor dining could be introduced in Manchester as part of a two-week ‘circuit breaker’ after Christmas, Burnham tweeted:
“Outdoor only? Have they been to Manchester in December?!
“You can’t help but think they’re trying to think of any old excuse to avoid a financial support scheme for hospitality.”
And reaching the end of a long day of meetings with hospitality yesterday, Lord tweeted that he had ‘witnessed tears, anger, fear, anxiety and total lost hope’.
He said: “Every meeting or outburst has carried the same question. Where on earth is The Chancellor @RishiSunak?”
The comments echo feelings of concern shared by hospitality businesses up and down the country and come amid increasing calls on the Treasury to introduce better support for the sector.
Since the arrival of Omicron in the country several weeks ago, booking cancellations have skyrocketed across the industry – leaving many fearing they will not survive into the new year without additional restrictions and financial support.
It follows the announcement of a state of emergency in London, which was called by the capital’s Mayor Sadiq Khan over the weekend.
Khan appeared on Andrew Marr’s final BBC show on Sunday to peak about the urgent need for better support to be made available to the sector.
He told Marr that people should go to pubs and restaurants “if they can do so safely”. stating that “pubs, restaurants, and bars have worked so hard to make their places covid safe” before advising people to do a lateral flow before they visited, to socially distance where they can, and to wear masks where they can’t.
“It’s cheaper to support business with grants, with business rates relief, and with furlough than allow them to go bust,” he added.
Following the state of emergency announcement in London, the government held emergency COBRA and cabinet meetings on Monday to discuss future plans – with three different scenarios currently on the table.
Despite this, no Covid announcements have yet been forthcoming.
Featured image – ITV
A new little IKEA has just opened inside a Greater Manchester shopping centre
A brand new little IKEA has just opened its doors inside a popular Greater Manchester shopping centre this week.
Of course, the Swedish furniture giant has a home in our region already, with a popular site in Ashton-under-Lyne in Tameside, as well as another in neighbouring Warrington just over the border into Cheshire – but this new Greater Manchester hub is on a much smaller scale than the IKEA superstores we’re used to.
This is what the retailer is calling a ‘Plan & Order Point’.
Having opened doors in the Merseyway Shopping Centre in Stockport, the new IKEA Plan & Order Point is a smaller store dedicated to kitchen and bedroom planning, where customers can pop in for home furnishing advice and expertise to help design their ideal space at an affordable price.
IKEA says the new Stockport hub is all part of its “ongoing transformation to become more accessible and sustainable” for shoppers in the North West.
Inside the 71 sqm / 764 sqft store, you’ll find a selection of different kitchens to browse, from a complete room with a combination of different units and appliances, including oven and hob, all for under £1,200, to a kitchen with fronts featuring a foil made of recycled bottles.
On top of this, all kitchen fronts, worktops, and a variety of appliances from the wider range will also be showcased inside the store.
When it comes to bedroom planning and design, there’s also a space dedicated to the PAX wardrobe system inside the store – with doors, interior organisers, and knobs and handles to help customers build their dream storage solution.
You can book an appointment, free of charge, inside the new Stockport store to start your design journey with one of IKEA’s planning specialists, or use the in-store self-service tools to design your own solution.
Staff will also be on hand to help customers order products from the full IKEA range – which can be delivered direct to your door, or to the nearest collection point.
“Our investment in the North West is part of our long-term plan to transform our retail business, continuing to make it easier for people to enjoy what IKEA offers using a variety of convenient ways,” explained Michael Parker, Area Manager at IKEA UK.
“The North West is a key region for us, being home to over seven million people, and also being the place that IKEA first opened a UK store, 35 years ago in Warrington.
“This new Plan and Order Point will allow customers to get inspiration and expert advice in convenient locations closer to where they live.
“Together with our existing stores in Ashton-under-Lyne and Warrington, remote planning and different delivery and collection services, we’re enabling an IKEA that’s there for our customers, however they want to meet us.”
King Charles III acceded to the throne on 8 September 2022, and on the day of his Coronation, will be 74 years old – making him the oldest person to be crowned monarch in British history.
The King will be coronated alongside his wife and the Queen Consort, Camilla, in a religious ceremony held at Westminster Abbey in London – which is the same place his late mother, Queen Elizabeth II‘s Coronation was held in 1953, as was her State Funeral in September of last year.
The ceremony will be conducted by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, and is expected to be a more “simmered down” event in comparison to that of the late Queen’s Coronation.
Buckingham Palace said the Coronation will “reflect the monarch’s role today” and will “look towards the future, while being rooted in longstanding traditions and pageantry” – with more details about the ceremony and celebrations on a national scale expected to be announced “in due course”.
But, on a more personal scale locally, Manchester City Council has just announced that residents in the borough can apply to close their road off so they can throw a street party.
The Council says it want residents from all over the city to “dust off the bunting and join their neighbours to celebrate the historic weekend” by hosting a traditional street party, and for those wishing to do so, if you make sure to submit an application by a certain deadline, then the road closure fee will be waived.
On top of this, Oldham Council has also announced that it applications are open for residents to apply for £100 grants to be put towards community street parties.
100 grants are available being awarded on a first come, first served basis.
Other Greater Manchester boroughs are also expected to announce celebration plans in the coming weeks, so keep your eyes peeled.