Oldham MP McMahon hosts hospitality roundtable

Date published: 04 December 2020

Earlier this week Oldham West and Royton MP Jim McMahon hosted a roundtable meeting with over 30 people from the hospitality industry, including GM Night Time Economy Adviser Sacha Lord, Oldham Council’s Director of Economy Emma Barton, John Townsend - Chartered Accountant, William Lees-Jones from JW Lees, and neighbouring MP for Oldham East and Saddleworth, Debbie Abrahams.

The meeting was convened in order to discuss the support available for hospitality businesses who have been impacted in Oldham harder than most areas of the country, what gaps there are in the support and the best course of action for the sector in Oldham going forward.

Speaking about the meeting afterwards Mr McMahon said: “What started off as a chat on WhatsApp between me and a constituent in Royton quickly snowballed into a meeting of over 30 people representing businesses from across Oldham and our great panel of experts.

“I’m really glad that everyone gave up their time to come and speak.

"I thought it was a really useful session with great contributions from everyone that got involved.

"One of the most important aspects for me, was how it highlighted just how diverse the issues that affect organisations within the same sector are.

“What became clear repeatedly during the meeting is that there is clearly an appetite from owners, operators and customers to re-open, but they need help and support getting to a state where they can do so safely.

“There is also a lot of frustration at the lack of notice given to these places about when they could reopen, lots of hospitality venues have perishable stock that can’t just sit around waiting for a go ahead to re-open.

"It can take weeks to plan properly to reopen one of these venues when you take into account planning rotas and ordering stock, giving them two days’ notice is quite frankly insulting after people have spent thousands of pounds over the last few months to ensure their venues are Covid secure.

“And I know from experience in pubs in Oldham earlier in the year just how much hard work has been put in, our licensed premises are licensed for a reason – they want to be able to keep people safe whilst they provide a service.

"It is in no-one’s interest to rush into reopening in an unsafe manner and that is not what any of these vendors are asking for.

“They all recognised that our numbers in Oldham are still quite high – they have of course come down a considerable amount in the last few weeks but they are high – there just needs to be a recognition from the government that the current economic support doesn’t help anyone.

“The government have been guilty of trying to force a one-size-fits-all approach too many times over the course of the pandemic.

"And the same is true here, the hospitality sector cannot fit nicely into one column, there was one member on the call yesterday who’s most expensive overhead is the chef – which means that in order to innovate and switch to more food focused service they need to be certain they are going to be able to afford it. 

“Going forward it is vital that we see more flexibility as our hospitality vendors seek to innovate and continue to provide the service they do for our communities, I’ve been a longstanding champion of local pubs.

"Our communities genuinely are better for having them, with more positive news on the vaccine front this morning it’s clear that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

"Government now must make sure that the hospitality sector is in a secure position to be able to bounce back as quickly as possible.”

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