Teesside should have a ‘night time economy advisor’ to help a vital sector bounce back after the lockdown says the Labour candidate in the looming mayoral election.
Jessie Joe Jacobs believes pubs, clubs, theatres and venues are key drivers for the local economy and they need a dedicated champion to help them rebuild after a traumatic year.
“I support the campaign by ‘Seat at The Table’ for the government to appoint a cabinet minister for hospitality to protect and promote this vital cog in the economy,” she said.
“And I believe there should be a ‘hospitality and night-time economy ambassador’ for the Tees Valley too.
“The roles would be champions and guardians of hospitality In Parliament and within the mayor’s office, promoting the importance of the economic, social and employment contribution of the sector to society. They would advance the status of hospitality and tourism at a regional and national level.”
The role would be especially important at local level as pubs, restaurants and venues struggle to return after a long lockdown. There will be many problems to overcome but Jacobs is confidenty they have the drive to bounce back.
“I love our small independent businesses and our hospitality industry, ” she said. “They are the heart and soul of our communities, the ‘who we are’ of Great Britain. They are central to the character, personality and the heartbeat of the places we love and call home.
When the Hospitality Union started calling for support early on in the Covid crisis, estimating two million jobs could be lost UK wide, I was one of the first in the North East to join their call,” she says.
The often over-looked sector is huge. Hospitality employs 3.2 million people, produces £130 billion towards GDP every year.
The cultural and creative sector produces £10.8billion a year to the UK economy and generates a further £23billion a year and 363,700 jobs. Jacobs has been fighting hospitality’s corner since the first lockdown.
“I coordinated a regional response via Food and Drink North East. We got some of what we asked for but not all. When the Venues Trust and Music Trust launched their campaign for a cultural rescue plan, I quickly backed their call and added my voice to their campaign.
“I was pleased the government responded; but it feels like, the longer this crisis goes on, the harder it is for these businesses to bounce back and the harder these business owners will be finding things. “
People across the Tees Valley have missed the opportunity to enjoy a night out during a difficult period and Jacobs worries about the damage that has been done.
“Birthdays and celebrations are usually spent in our favourite bar, with our favourite people, eating and drinking our favourite meal and drinks,” she said.
“But this last year has been very different and as this crisis rolls on, the loss of those simple things, has become more apparent. But more worrying is the lingering fear, about what of those everyday things and places will still be left after this crisis?”
And Jacobs has urged those in the sector to get in touch to share ideas.
“If you want to talk to me about anything specific, have any concerns or you just want a chat, please get in touch. Times feel tough, it’s so hard to stay positive, but just remember that fighting spirit and bravery that drove you to start a business in the first place, that’s something nothing can take away.
“Dig deep, the end is in sight and there are brighter days ahead.”
Five Things You Can Do To Help
With the country still under lockdown those businesses are under tremendous pressure but there are things you can do to help
If you are local hospitality business is still open, why not order click and collect or take away.
If your favourite hospitality business isn’t open, why not drop them a message letting them know you miss them and , that you are looking forward to coming back to them when they reopen.
Support a crowd funder for a local venue or a hospitality fundraiser. Tht has been a success for the Westgarth Social Club in Middlesbrough and The Georgian Theatre in Stockton but there will be others.
Join my call for a National Minister for Hospitality and a ‘Hospitality and Night-time Economy Ambassador’ for the Tees Valley.
Lastly, post an image of your favourite pub or restaurant on your Facebook wall or Instagram. Remind everyone else about how much we value them.