Rishi Sunak must ‘get all the strikes settled’, the boss of one of London’s biggest landlords has warned.

Brian Bickell, who runs West End property giant Shaftesbury, said rail strikes in the run up to Christmas were devastating for the popular tourist area’s shops and bars.

The 68-year-old insisted the ‘strikes cannot go on’ and called on the unions, train operators and the Prime Minister to find a solution.

Warning: West End property giant Shaftesbury, which owns sites such as Carnaby Street (pictured), said rail strikes in the run up to Christmas were devastating

Warning: West End property giant Shaftesbury, which owns sites such as Carnaby Street (pictured), said rail strikes in the run up to Christmas were devastating

Warning: West End property giant Shaftesbury, which owns sites such as Carnaby Street (pictured), said rail strikes in the run up to Christmas were devastating

He said Shaftesbury, which owns swathes of Soho, Covent Garden, Carnaby Street and Chinatown, was finally seeing a ‘return to normal’ following the pandemic.

But industrial action by the RMT and Aslef has left many travellers too nervous to plan trips into London in advance.

Bickell said: ‘People are thinking, “Should we book something for the half-term holidays?” and have a lack of confidence. 

;With things like theatre tickets, it is sometimes quite difficult to get the money back. People need a bit of certainty in their lives and need to know the transport system is going to be there.’

Data from retail analysts Springboard showed rail strikes led to a drop-off in visitors to Central London in the run up to Christmas – a crucial shopping period. 

Its tracker showed footfall in the third week of December dropped by a fifth from a week earlier. And more strikes are on the way, with both Aslef and the RMT planning walkouts tomorrow and Friday. 

Bickell’s calls came as Shaftesbury said that despite the disruption, turnover at shops and bars across its properties was ahead of pre-Covid levels in December. 

Bickell said without the strikes, sales would have been even higher as ‘those days would have been normal days’.

Despite the bullish update, Shaftesbury shares slipped 0.2 per cent, or 0.8p, to 391.6p. 

The landlord said a planned £5billion tie up with rival Capital & Counties, agreed last summer, will ‘go ahead as expected’ in the first quarter of this year.

Competition watchdog the CMA is probing the merger over whether it would result in ‘a substantial lessening of competition’. It will decide whether to clear the deal on February 22. 

Capco also hailed a bumper Christmas. Boss Ian Hawksworth said there is ‘continued momentum at Covent Garden’ and he is confident about the year ahead for the West End.

But Capco shares also fell by 0.4 per cent, or 0.5p, to 114.5p.

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This post first appeared on Dailymail.co.uk

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