Business group manifesto calls for Green Belt reform and careers service from next London Mayor

Business group manifesto calls for Green Belt reform and careers service from next London Mayor

One of the capital’s leading business groups has urged the next Mayor of London to review Green Belt land for possible development, launch a new service to help Londoners into jobs and collaborate on an economic growth strategy, along with striking a better Transport for London funding deal and arguing for greater devolution.

In a 16-page manifesto, BusinessLDN, formerly London First, which represents many of the city’s largest businesses and educational institutions, says the coming mayoral and general elections “represent a moment for reset, creating the opportunity to build a new partnership between all levels of government and business to meet the challenges and seize the opportunities facing our city”.

Subtitled “building a capital fit for the future”, the document says London has “bounced back following the pandemic” but that it also endures the highest housing costs in the country and one of the highest poverty rates, as well as having to cope with the cost of living crisis, industrial action and the effects of “geopolitical tensions”, all of which hinder “getting London’s businesses firing on all cylinders” to help Britain break out of “a cycle of decline”.

The manifesto describes devolution as the starting point for change, enabling London government to “tailor spending priorities to meet local needs” and “boost growth” and points out that despite providing the Treasury with a “tax surplus” – the difference between the amount of tax raised in London and the amount spent there – of £38 billion in the financial year 2021/22, the city is “continuously dependent on grants from the Treasury, often dispensed through opaque process with short-time horizons”.

It urges the next Mayor to “develop a new economic strategy that builds on the capital’s economic strengths” working closely with the private sector and government to bring in investment, and recommends a more streamlined London Plan – the Mayor’s master bluerpitn for the city’s spatial development – to “make it more concise, strategic and flexible in nature” along with championing public-private partnerships to deliver public realm improvements to places such as Charing Cross Road and Marble Arch.

On Green Belt, the manifesto asks for “poor quality parts close to existing or future transport nodes that are appropriate for sustainable residential development” to be identified, saying that brownfield development alone cannot meet the scale of London’s housing need. It adds that the Mayor should establish a “City Hall Developer” focussed on “unlocking more public land for development”.

Transport and other infrastructure are also addressed, as are the linked themes of immigration and skills. “One of the biggest barriers to getting more people into the jobs businesses are creating is London’s fragmented and underfunded careers system,” the manifesto says, advocating the launch of a cohesive London Careers Service and the Mayor collaborating to implement the London Local Skills Improvement Plan put together by BusinessLDN and other business bodies.

There are also proposals for addressing climate change and those types of crime which have increased in the capital of late. Read the manifesto in full HERE.

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