Further London attacks causing longer-term harm to West End

Nuala Calvi

London’s second wave of terrorist attacks could have a greater long-term effect on the West End than the initial bombings, according to the Society of London Theatre.

The body, which represents West End venues, also said security measures had been stepped up since the events of July 7, with bag searches at theatres becoming routine.

SOLT chief executive Richard Pulford said: “We are getting quite a lot of feedback that the last events are making this more of a worry. There have been quite a lot of no-shows, particularly for those with family appeal, like Mary Poppins or Billy Elliot. Bookings have fallen slightly, but we don’t know at the moment whether that’s short term or long term.”

Since the first incidents, many theatres have brought in extra staff to increase security.

John Hindley, deputy manager of the Lyceum, said: “We have put a security guard on the stage door and in the evenings we have five guards on the main doors in addition to our normal staff, doing random bag searches.

“People have been absolutely fine about it. In fact, a lot assume every single bag will be searched and say they haven’t had their bag searched.”

A spokesman for the Ambassador Theatre Group said it had advised all its theatres to put additional safety measures in place. “It’s good to send out the message we are looking after our customers and on the ball,” he said. “Before each show we search each theatre from top to bottom. Everyone who comes into the building has their bag searched, whether or not a show is on.

“We have closed all our cloakrooms so we can’t leave bags unattended. After shows, we again search the buildings, and staff have been told to be more vigilant and proactive to notice anything.”

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