POPULAR Brighton businesses have been buoyed by the support of an MP as they call for the creation of a new role in government to protect the struggling hospitality industry.

It is hoped the person appointed in this position could support the industry, which plays a vital role in the cultural and economic make-up of the city.

The likes of Cin Cin, The Chilli Pickle, Boho Gelato, Curry Leaf Cafe and Terre a Terre are among 47 businesses which make up Brighton’s Restaurant Association, a group which is urging the government to consider creating the role.

Brighton Pavilion Green MP Caroline Lucas is one of those spearheading the campaign, and has written to ministers at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) to call for action.

In the letter, she states that the hospitality industry “needs a seat at the decision-making table so that its importance to the UK economy is recognised and fought for”.

She said: “Hospitality is so important to Brighton’s economy and it has been heartbreaking to see so many businesses shuttered, jobs lost and livelihoods at risk.

“The government has dedicated ministers for sport and for culture.

“Hospitality needs one too to represent the interests of this vital sector and ensure it recovers from the Covid restrictions and continues to thrive in the future.”

Ms Lucas highlighted the importance of the hospitality industry by arguing that it provides more than three million jobs across the UK, and contributes five per cent of the nation’s GDP.

In Brighton and Hove, a statement released by the MP said tourism and hospitality accounts for about 14 per cent of all jobs (21,000 in total) and is worth about £890 million to the city’s economy.

She said Brighton businesses believe a minister for hospitality “would form a crucial and missing link between government and businesses to assist with both the development of quick solutions to aid the sector’s recovery and the long-term planning needed to ensure the sector thrives once the pandemic is over”.

A nationwide petition calling for the creation of a Minister for Hospitality has been signed more than 194,000 times.

As a result of the high levels of support for the campaign, the petition will be debated in Parliament today.

A government response to the petition states: “Responsibility for the hospitality sector is shared by ministers in the Departments for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, and Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.”

It has been an incredibly challenging year for hospitality across the UK.

Businesses have been forced to adapt or close due to successive lockdowns in March, November and now new national restrictions which were introduced last week.

As a result, many were only able to open for a small portion of 2020, and when they were open their capacity was often greatly reduced due to social distancing measures, severely slashing their profits.