Londoner’s Diary: ‘Meltdown’ looms for capital’s restaurants

·4-min read
 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

LONDON’s restaurant industry is facing “total meltdown” because of visa problems and staff shortages, warns one boss, as a popular east London restaurant is forced to close because of visa issues.

“The Government, by not allowing extra workers in, is strangling the life out of hospitality…We’ve been screaming silently for months now and there’s no way to demonstrate that publicly,” James Ogilvie Robertson, told us today. “We’re at absolute crisis point and [have] been for months.”

Ogilvie Robertson, who co-founded the London Steakhouse with Marco Pierre White went, on to say that staff shortages were creating a “chaotic and crazy” market where salaries were spiralling and shortages were getting worse.

His words come as Alexis Noble, the Australian owner of restaurant Wander, said she had been forced to close her restaurant after her visa application was denied.

“After finally reopening and just feeling like we were just getting back to normal it’s very painful to close again,” she wrote on Instagram, describing herself as “naïve” for not seeing the decision coming. Noble is appealing, but it doesn’t seem a happy time to be in the business.

MP’s not-so-fond farewell to aide

 (PA)
(PA)

APSANA BEGUM MP has let go of the communications aide who helped her with her trial over the summer, despite the intervention of his union. Andy Whitaker, who used to run comms for ex-Labour shadow chancellor John McDonnell, worked for Begum during her housing fraud trial. McDonnell was a character witness for her. She was acquitted last month. The National Union of Journalists intervened to ask why Whitaker was, to his surprise, being let go with little notice. Begum told the NUJ he was employed on “an ‘as-and-when-needed’ basis”. A strange look for a very Left-wing MP.

How Cara’s name really took flight...

Flying high: Cara Delevigne at the Met Gala (Getty Images)
Flying high: Cara Delevigne at the Met Gala (Getty Images)

CARA DELEVINGNE, above, may have budget airline Aer Lingus to thank for her name. Ahead of the centenary of the Anglo-Irish Treaty, the model’s father, Charles Hamar Delevingne, the descendant of one of the negotiators, told the Irish Times about his support for Anglo-Irish friendship. “I remember I used to go backwards and forwards to Dublin a lot and the name of the Aer Lingus magazine was Cara,” he said. “I loved the name.”

Miller: I won’t be held back by fear

Living in fear: Gina Miller is pressing ahead with her political party despite threats (Getty Images)
Living in fear: Gina Miller is pressing ahead with her political party despite threats (Getty Images)

GINA MILLER says she lives in fear “every day,” but will not let that stop her from pressing forward with her political party True & Fair. “I still have death threats [al]most every day. It’s an interesting day when I don’t, because I think maybe the internet is not working or my letter box is not working,” the campaigner told the FT Women at the Top summit yesterday. Miller added: “It’s important that I try... at the moment in our country there’s too much silence.”

SW1A

'Parmo' cheese and chicken meal ('Parmo' cheese and chicken snack)
'Parmo' cheese and chicken meal ('Parmo' cheese and chicken snack)

CHICKEN PARMO made its debut in Westminster’s canteens to much fanfare yesterday after a campaign by Matt Vickers MP — but connoisseurs weren’t so impressed. One Teesider told us it was nice to see it on the menu, but explained: “No bech.” The chicken was served without bechamel sauce under the cheese. “Not,” therefore, “a parmo”. So close.

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RED on red alert. Neil Coyle, a London MP, this morning blasted fellow Labourite Andy Burnham the Manchester mayor for “cheap digs at London”. Burnham had tweeted that rail fares in Manchester should be as cheap as London. Coyle pointed out some were more expensive and said for “anyone interested in facts” such attacks should end. Ouch.

Sixties in full swing at film screening

Rafferty Law, Clara Paget, Annie Doble (Dave Benett)
Rafferty Law, Clara Paget, Annie Doble (Dave Benett)

RAFFERTY LAW joined mother Sadie Frost for the screening of her new film about mini-skirt designer Mary Quant last night at the Chelsea Pig. Clare Hunt, who modelled for Quant, said the designer “started the youth culture” of the Sixties. Over at the Beano exhibition at Somerset House, presenter Zezi Ifore told us she still has her old copies of the magazine, as well as other classics such as Gemstones and Equestrian Doll. Nice.

Youth Music Awards hit the high notes

Pa Salieu performs (Will Ireland/PinPep)
Pa Salieu performs (Will Ireland/PinPep)

The Troxy in East London last night played host to the Youth Music awards. BBC Sound of 21 winner Pa Salieu “brought the energy and shut the house down,” one attendee tells us. In a good way, of course. TV presenter Vick Hope was another guest at the busy bash. One for the future... and maybe for now.

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