London isn’t London without it’s nightlife – and up until a couple of months ago, some of the best in the city could be found in Vauxhall. The LGBTQ+ heritage site was home to spots like the Royal Vauxhall Tavern, Eagle London, Above the Stag and Fire: places where communities were forged, cabaret was at its most creative and people danced until dawn and beyond.
Thanks to lockdown, these venues are looking at remaining closed for months. If that happens, we’re almost definitely going to lose them. The solution? Not lifting lockdown, but asking the government to change the way its grants work.
At the moment, businesses whose buildings have a rateable value (annual rental value) of up to £51,000 can get a grant from the government of up to £25,000 to tide them over. It's supposed to help small independent businesses like restaurants, bars, clubs and hairdressers. The problem is that because land in London is so expensive, even the smallest club’s rateable value could work out as more than £51,000.
Vauxhall’s nightlife venues are calling for the government to expand the rateable value threshold for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses from £51,000 to £150,000. They're supporting a petition called #RaiseTheBar which is asking for that change. More than 12,000 people have signed it already.
The campaign has the backing of Night Czar Amy Lamé. ‘London’s night-time economy makes a huge contribution to life in our capital, but so many local businesses are under threat,’ she says. ‘Our much-loved LGBTQ+ venues in Vauxhall have rightly closed their doors to play their part in tackling this health crisis, but they are not getting the support they need from the government after losing their entire income... it’s essential the government raises the bar so that these treasured venues can get the support they need.’
You can sign the petition here or show your support on social media with #RaiseTheBar.
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