Pub in Harry Potter-theme porta-loo protest against Palace Theatre
Top boss of Nimax Theatres apologises for inconvenience
13 October, 2017 — By Eshu Christianson
Coach and Horses protest
PROTESTERS in fancy dress took to the streets of Soho to oppose building work they say has hit their trade.
Supporters of nearby businesses wore colourful outfits at the demonstration – which had a Harry Potter twist – outside The Coach and Horses pub in Romilly Street, on Saturday.
The protest was against a compound by the Palace Theatre set up outside the pub for nine months.
Owner Alastair Choat said: “The Harry’s Porta-Loo symbolises how councils and big business are taking a dump on small hard-working UK businesses. It’s time we levelled the playing field.”
Last weekend a group of local businesses including The Coach and Horses launched 0a petition to get fair compensation when private or public works significantly affect custom.
Mr Choat added: “We have lost huge amounts of trade… It’s time small businesses were consulted properly and compensated if public or private works damage their trade significantly.”
Campaigners also claim that setting up the compound in Romilly Street created an alleyway that became a mini “drug ghetto”.
Mr Choat said: “Staff and customers get abused on a daily basis by drug users who have taken over the area due to dimly-lit spaces created by the site. I’ve even received a death threat.”
The compound was removed this week following the weekend protest. The works are part of a larger project being undertaken by Transport for London, Westminster Council and The Palace Theatre to overhaul the flow of traffic in Shaftesbury Avenue as well as refitting the Grade II-listed basement bar in the theatre.
Nica Burns, chief executive of Nimax Theatres Ltd, operators of the Palace Theatre, said: “We have met with and apologised to Mr Choat for the inconvenience, even going so far as to offer help with the promotion of his business.”
The complexity of three such large organisations working together has been blamed for the breakdown in communication with residents.
Ms Burns was at pains to stress the importance they place on their social responsibility, saying: “We are a part of the community… we didn’t realise that Mr Choat hadn’t been contacted.”