I AM writing on behalf of 15 independent cafes in Glasgow.

We are now almost two weeks into the unlocking of the hospitality sector in Scotland. However, while restrictions might be easing, our city centre remains deserted. As long as “work from home” and “stay local” are pillars of government guidance, businesses in Glasgow that rely on the city centre office community face the real threat of closure.

We have been in direct contact with many of the large city centre employers, including JP Morgan, Morgan Stanley and Barclays who have all indicated that they will not be returning to the office for the foreseeable future.

Indeed, the conversations we have had as business owners confirm the difficulty of the current landscape.

Whilst many businesses remain closed, and some like Café Nero reopened briefly before closing again, a few businesses have been operating in the city centre as takeaways and are reporting 15-25% of pre-lockdown sales. These numbers are simply not sustainable.

The challenge is made greater by ongoing disengagement from many landlords and the fear of being hit with massive bills for the period of lockdown.

We agree that public health is and always should be the top priority. We are not asking for a change to the guidance.

However, we do urge the government to support independent cafes and shops. Failure to do so will result in mass redundancies and closures, with terrible consequences for our city.

Nationwide chains will be mainstays on our high street for many years to come and they undoubtedly play a vital role in Glasgow’s economy but if local, independent cafes and shops are forced to close their doors, what will be left to differentiate us from any other urban centre?

Together, we employ over 200 people. We are determined to fight for their livelihoods. We ask that the Scottish Government joins us in this fight.

The businesses represented in this letter are not start-ups, but long-established businesses that are at the heart of Glasgow’s hospitality economy.

Where the Monkey Sleeps has been serving sandwiches to Glasgow’s office workers for almost 20 years. I took over the reins eight years ago and have been extremely proud to be part of Glasgow’s vibrant independent cafe community.

I am very concerned about the long-term impact COVID-19 will have on these small businesses, the people they employ and the city that they add character and community to.

Sofie Gillespie,

Owner of Where the Monkey Sleeps,

Glasgow.

MY local High Street was a grim place before the lockdown. The mind boggles as to what state it (and others) will be in now and in the months ahead.

What plans does the Scottish government have for rescuing these vital parts of local communities?

D McIntosh,

Glasgow.