The One London Party has accused Ken Livingstone of “spinning statistics” after the Mayor told his regular press conference that West End sales figures “thoroughly settles arguments” surrounding the Congestion Charge.
The Mayor was speaking after figures published by the London Retail Consortium which suggested retail sales in Central London were six per cent up on the previous year on a like-for-like basis and that over the same period, UK retail sales grew by three per cent.
Speaking today Mr Livingstone said:
‘”These figures tell their own story. The fact that London’s West End retail sales have now exceeded the rest of the UK in growth continuously for two years is a tremendous achievement. More than 200 million people visit the West End every year, spending £5.5 billion. This testifies to the strength of London’s economy – retail sales in central London were up 6.8 per cent in the year to September.”
“This performance also thoroughly settles arguments that have taken place regarding the West End. The fact that retail sales in the West End have exceeded the rest of the UK for two years thoroughly refutes the argument that the congestion charge would harm the retail trade.”
“The sales boom in the West End also clearly justifies the effort and resource London has put into its promotion. Total visitors from outside London now account for almost half, with overseas visitors accounting for a quarter, of all shoppers in the West End. This is clearly underpinning its out-performance of the rest of the UK. Sales to visitors from the key new emerging markets of Russia and India rose by a massive 46 per cent and 20 per cent this year.”
However One London Party Leader Damian Hockney claimed the Mayor had “surpassed himself again in spin and manipulation of statistics” adding “Boasting of higher West End retail sales is like boasting that theatre attendance is higher in the West End than the rest of the UK. The area is a traditional shopping mecca, and has always outperformed the rest of the country in retail sales.”
Hockney accused the Mayor of failing to mention “what the London Retail Consortium itself has highlighted – that sales growth in London is at its weakest for six months, despite higher promotional activity by shops and the Mayor himself.”