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HomeLive StreamSoho residents blast ‘lack of consultation’ over return of alfresco dining

Soho residents blast ‘lack of consultation’ over return of alfresco dining


Welcome back to the Londoner’s Diary. First up Soho residents say the council “broke its promise” about consulting them on the return of alfresco dining. Later on DJ Erol Alkan describes the cognitive dissonance he has when it comes to clubs reopening, Naomi Ishiguro reveals her past as a “bibliotherapist”, Esther Rantzen tells us about her hopes for the afterlife, and Sarah Sands talks about her appreciation of the sound of silence after quitting as editor of BBC 4’s Today programme. In our SW1A today Sir Lindsay Hoyle tells us his technique for lowering his blood pressure and it involves his cat Patrick.

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Customers sit outside re-opened bars in Soho

/ AFP via Getty Images

Soho residents are fearing the return of alfresco dining and say the council “broke its promise” about consulting them on the scheme’s return.

“We understood that there would not be any extension of the scheme without the council getting in contact directly,” Tim Lord of the Soho Society tells us, adding that’s why he set up a survey of residents on the planned changes.

On February 24, Westminster Council announced it would once again open the streets of Soho to drinkers and diners as it did last summer. But respondents to the Soho Society’s survey say they are worried about what happens in June, when most coronavirus regulations could be lifted. Lord pointed out there were problems with “street fouling” and the lack of temporary toilets for women.

He also claimed: “The council says it doesn’t want it to turn Soho into a transient community, but a lot of its decisions are completely in contrast to that”.

A spokesperson for Westminster Council said they had been “liaising closely with the Soho Society” and added “We are also working collaboratively with the Soho Society on issues that it has raised such as letters to residents and public toilet provision. We will monitor the al fresco schemes throughout implementation and are ready to make changes where required.”



Sir Lindsay Hoyle famously has a menagerie (six pets, including Maggie the Tortoise). He tells us he feels lucky he can bring two to London with him. The Speaker says “hearing Patrick, my cat, purring at the end of a hard day, always makes me smile”. Hoyle often gets requests “from people eager to meet him”. Competition for Larry.

THE PM’s way with words bedevilled him again as he claimed “greed” and “capitalism” were behind the UK’s vaccine success — then took it back. Labour’s Peter Kyle snipes: “Greed gets you three photographers, a posher flat… But vaccine? That comes from scientific brilliance and… hard work — two traits that elude Boris Johnson.”


No chores will be heavenly

Dame Esther Rantzen

/ Dave Benett

Dame Esther Rantzen has identified what she’s looking forward to in the afterlife, if she makes it there. Dame Esther, who now has a podcast looking at the afterlife, as well as a new radio show with her daughter Rebecca, tells us: “I think it’d be quite relaxing… the two things that most bore me in the whole of life are having to fill my car with petrol and going to the loo. So I’ve decided that probably I won’t have to do either of those.” Goals.


Radio silence is golden for Sands

Sarah Sands has come to appreciate the sound of silence after quitting as editor of BBC 4’s Today programme in September. Instead of listening to politicians, she now enjoys far more peaceful activities, such as “contemplating a 13th-century Cistercian wall at the bottom of the garden”, which has led to a book on meditation, The Interior Silence. Sands, formerly of this parish, says she’s not the only one relishing the quiet. Recalling a conversation with John Humphrys, she writes in Saga magazine: “Did John miss presenting after being at the heart of the programme for 30 years? ‘Nope.’”


Novelist offered crumbs of comfort

Naomi Ishiguro

/ Naomi Ishiguro

Naomi Ishiguro, writer and daughter of Nobel prize-winner Kazuo Ishiguro, arrived at her current career via a novel route. As a bookseller in Bath she also doubled as a “bibliotherapist”. Ishiguro explains to the Meet the Writers podcast: “We’d have a bibliotherapy room on the shop floor with armchairs and a fireplace and it would be a [one-to-one] discussion… over tea and cake about reading taste.” Sign us up.


The beat goes on … but mindfully

DJ Erol Alkan has some cognitive dissonance when it comes to clubs reopening: he is excited about getting back to nights out, but also “slightly fearful”. He teases that his first record will be at a heart-pounding 150bpm before conceding to Clash magazine: “I’m going to be a lot more thoughtful about what I’m going to do… What purpose it plays as well. Also what clubbing offers to people now going forward as well.” Post-Covid thoughtful clubbing? The 150bpm version may be more likely.


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