19th June 2020
- Wales – as mentioned in yesterday’s update, First Minister, Mark Draeford, confirmed non-essential retail can open on Monday. Whilst we have yet to see the legislation this does not include AGCs (nor LBOs). The next date to watch is 9th July. There have been heavy signals that the Tourist Sector will be able to open after the 13th July.
- England – Members are sending me copies of the letters that their MPs have received from DCMS Minister, Nigel Huddleston, in response to lobbying on the AGC U-turn last week. The letters are identical and frankly very disappointing, making excuses rather than addressing the clear mistake Government has made. I have included below some words members might like to use in response to their MPs which sets the record straight. We continue to press for the earliest possible opening on AGCs but DCMS keeps pushing back to say they are focusing on the 4th July for all sectors, but will always add that this is subject to the science so nothing can be guaranteed. We have another call with DCMS on Monday (and we will up the frequency of conversations) so that we are as close as we possible can be to this. We do not want to be given another indicative date only for it to be missed again.
- Scotland – there is no news since yesterday. We remain focused both on Tourism re-opening on 15th July whilst at the same time exploring with Scottish Government an earlier opening for AGCs. We have a meeting with Scottish officials on Monday and we have ensured that our Covid-19 Guidance has been lodged. This is the current tourism and hospitality sector guidance in Scotland https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-tourism-and-hospitality-sector-guidance/?utm_campaign=595391_FindBusinessSupport%20-%20COVID-19%20Updates%2068&utm_medium=email&utm_source=Scottish%20Enterprise&dm_i=4X7B,CREN,3ZLPHV,1FTZ4,1. This is the retail guidance https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-retail-sector-guidance/?utm_campaign=595391_FindBusinessSupport%20-%20COVID-19%20Updates%2068&utm_medium=email&utm_source=Scottish%20Enterprise&dm_i=4X7B,CREN,3ZLPHV,1FTZ4,1
Rates Relief and Grants
- Scotland and Wales continue to be a mess with different Councils persisting with different approaches. We are having one last push in Wales where it has been impossible to find anyone with whom to have a meaningful conversation. As I said yesterday Councils push it to the Government and the Government pushes the issue to the Councils. Our lobbying is now being stone-walled. In Scotland we are meeting again hopefully next week, with the official responsible for rating policy to see if there has been any progress on establishing the clarity we have been asking for since March.
- One interesting one today was publication of a Code of Practice between Landlords and Tenants. This is basically setting out how the two sides of the equation can share the pain of the Covid-19 crisis. It is not binding but if you are having difficulties with your landlord you may find this useful. It sits alongside a further extension of the eviction moratorium until September.
- I have been working with KPMG on some fully-funded customs training for members. I will send members and email on Monday with details but if this piques your interest drop me a line over the weekend. It’s offered on a first come first served basis.
Suggested response letter to MPs – please use your own words if you can.
For members who also have FECs you might like to include the penultimate sentence in bold, too.
Thank you for passing on the Minister’s reply to your letter in which you kindly raised my anger at the Government’s decision not to allow Adult Gaming Centre businesses like mine, to open on 15th June as had been clearly indicated in Government Guidance, public statements and private conversations with my trade body, bacta. We were in exactly the same position as other non-essential retailers on the list of venues due to open. That list is still defining High Street Gambling Arcades as shops.
Frankly, I am disappointed that the Minister has not given an explanation as to why this was the case and chosen rather to defend what is clearly a mistake.
There is no scientific reason why we could not open. With the social distancing and hygiene measures we have put in place we are at very low risk of being the source of Covid-19 transmission. There are less than 1000 AGCs in England we have low customer numbers and dwell times, much less incidentally than many other retailers. Betting Offices, which number close to 8000 in the UK have, as well as being our High Street competitors, many similarities to my business for the purposes of determining risk. They provide recreational gambling including exactly the machines in my AGCs.
At least the Minister has indicated that the 4th July is when the next round of business openings will occur. If the Government will not correct this mistake before then they must do so on the 4th. This must be the same date as my seaside arcade business which needs to get open if we are going to see any income at all this season. My business can’t take another hammer blow.
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