EVERY major business and hospitality body in the Bournemouth, Poole, Christchurch and Wimborne area has backed a call from local operators for more government support.

The new network Wonky Table has written to ask for more help, including an extended furlough scheme and a cut in VAT.

Wonky Table– which started as an informal WhatsApp group – now represents 200 restaurants, bars, clubs, pubs and event management businesses.

Andy Lennox, former boss of Koh Thai and founder of the restaurant Zim Braai, said: “It’s been a whirlwind couple of weeks with a continual stream of people joining the groups and getting involved. It’s been quite overwhelming.

“The letter we wrote will hopefully help in some small way to further the next phase of government support for our industry. However, most importantly this letter has the support of every major business or hospitality group in the conurbation.

“There is one vision going forward. One conurbation together, coming out of this together.”

The letter, written by Mr Lennox, welcomes previous government support for tourism and its “swift and professional implementation”.

“Our thanks go out also to BCP Council for their administration of grants in our area – by the government’s own reporting they have been one of the best in the country and should be applauded for swiftly administering this vital lifeline,” it adds.

“However, the battle is not over, and the hard work begins now.”

The letter calls for:

  • Extension of the Treasury-backed furlough scheme until the end of the government-imposed closure “and beyond”.
  • Another nine months of protection from action by landlords and other creditors.
  • A reduction in VAT to 10 per cent for at least two years, along with measures to reduce taxes on the industry permanently.
  • A lowering of the threshold for businesses in the industry accessing government help.
  • Lobbying of the insurance industry, which has been refusing to pay out on pandemic policies because Covid-19 was not known and named.
  • Creation of a Covid-19 hospitality fund to be administered by local councils.

The request has been backed by town chambers of trade, business improvement districts in in Bournemouth, Christchurch, Poole and Wimborne, the national body UK Hospitality, local hospitality association BAHA and BCP Council’s cabinet measure for tourism.