Setting out his plan for how businesses can be supported to recover from the pandemic, the night time economy adviser for the Greater Manchester region said that over the past eight months he had 'watched in horror as the sector has been thrown to the wolves'.
In his Greater Manchester night time economy blueprint, released with the combined authority and Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham, Lord has outlined a number of key priorities including lobbying for targeted financial support, schemes to encourage the public to shop local, and increased support for businesses looking to retrain or diversify their offerings.
He also emphasised the need for greater mental health support for late night businesses and their employees, noting it is a sector that's 'typically disproportionately affected by mental health diagnoses'.
“To say 2020 has been the hardest year I have personally experienced is an understatement, yet despite the difficulties ahead, I remain confident in the resilience of Greater Manchester’s nightlife scene and its ability to return bigger and brighter, albeit looking significantly different,” said Lord.
“I wholeheartedly believe that the sector plays a critical part of the growth and leading status of our city-region however its with a heavy heart that I estimate it will take at least five years to recover to pre-pandemic levels.
“I am therefore under no illusion of the hard work ahead, but I have always maintained that together we are stronger. It’s time to look forward to rebuilding on our previous strengths, build on what we’ve already achieved and learn from previous mistakes.
“Alongside our Mayor and the ongoing work of the GMCA, I am committed to ensuring our sector not only survives but thrives.”
Last month Lord commenced a Judicial Review into the legality of the Government implementing emergency restrictions on Greater Manchester's hospitality sector without scientific evidence.
The region was the first in the country to have Tier 3 restrictions, which includes ordering wet-led pubs and bars to close and banning social mixing between households, forced upon it by central Government after talks between Westminster and local leaders on a financial support package for businesses ended dramatically without a deal reached.
Lord has recently stated that his legal case to challenge the restrictions will restart next month if no scientific evidence to support the restrictions is presented.
“Greater Manchester is known across the country and beyond for its thriving nightlife,” said Burnham.
“We are nationally and internationally synonymous with live music, and around one third of our workforce work in jobs or businesses that are significantly active at night.
“But sadly, the night time economy sector has been detrimentally affected over the course of 2020. Although the sector has been forced to take many steps backwards in light of the global pandemic, Sacha and the team know that we now need to focus on recovery with the same aim at the heart of the work we do; for Greater Manchester to be one of the best places in the world to go out, stay out, work and run a business between the hours of 6pm and 6am.
“We will learn from the difficult experiences of the past few months to build back better than before.”
Lord’s plan comes as almost one-in-ten night time economy businesses warned they will permanently close because of the pandemic, with 80% saying they will be making redundancies in the coming year.
Yesterday (17 November) the Night Time Industries Association (NTIA), which represents 1,200 independent bars, clubs and live music venues across the UK, said it feared nightclubs will become 'extinct' in UK culture as businesses continue to face no roadmap for reopening and growing financial pressures.
It claimed business owners within the night time economy are 'frustrated and angry' at being forced to remain closed despite working within the Government guidance and 'many' are now considering taking legal action.