The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has published a manifesto proposing steps it wants the next Mayor to take to maintain the capital’s global competitiveness, tackle the environmental crisis and improve job prospects and prosperity for poorer Londoners in partnership with business.
Describing 6 May’s rescheduled mayoral vote as “perhaps the city’s most critical election to date”, the 33-page document, entitled London Revival Plan, urges the contest’s winner to work with London’s business community to protect and enhance its position on the world stage in the face of “the triple shocks of coronavirus, Brexit and climate change”.
The manifesto argues that London’s economic dynamism can be championed from City Hall by means of “an even recovery for all of London boroughs” in which “business and academic networks are supported to create local wealth and prosperity” along with harnessing London’s established strongest international sectors.
It says business can assist the Mayor with transforming the capital’s “digital and physical infrastructure” as part of the “the UK’s race to net zero” by promoting “green, multi-mode transport” and superior digital connectivity, building the city’s long-term resilience.
In a third main plank, the manifesto says its it the duty of business to support communities at an uncertain time, stating as paramount investment in “emerging and high-demand skills” as well as closing the digital divide. There is also a commitment to helping to reduce crime and “unlock social housing”.
The CBI, a national membership organisation for nearly 2,000 firms, praises the nine “missions” for social and economic renewal identified by the London Recovery Board, a panel drawing from business, local authority and voluntary sector bodies which is co-chaired by Sadiq Khan and London Councils chair Georgia Gould, but agrees with the Board that “these cannot be seen as a ‘catch-all’ to aid full economic recovery”.
It recommends London’s Mayor working with England’s nine Metro Mayors “to advocate for inclusive levelling up across the UK, which includes metropolitan areas with high levels of deprivation, as seen in London.” And there is considerable stress on “championing the reconfiguration of high streets, activity zones and the CAZ [Central Activity Zone, comprising the West End, City and Canary Wharf]”
“Reconfiguring London’s major centres will be an important part of recovery,” the manifesto says, “and should look to expand on London’s reputation as a cultural hub. Moving forward, high streets should enable social interactions for work and leisure. This should include promoting (and developing around) the prominence of leisure/hospitality venues such as cinemas and restaurants”.
A widely-shared desire for a “comprehensive reform of the Business rates regime” is called for as a means of helping London’s high streets with better energy efficiency and so “aid levelling up of business investment across the capital.”
“International connectivity” including air travel should be “revived and strengthened”, says the manifesto, which comes out against the introduction of a tourism tax – similar to that levied on visitors in other large cities – “in this mayoral term”. The future Mayor is also urged to enlarge the work of London’s overseas trade missions to that it encompasses the development of creative industries such as Film London and events such as London Fashion Week.
Barking & Dagenham’s Council’s successful deal with a Los Angeles company to build a film studio, Eastbrook, is selected as a case study showing “the value of London and the UK’s screen industries to Brand Britain”. Five other “global cities” – New York, Paris, Singapore, Tokyo and the smaller but fast-growing Shanghai – are identified as case studies for comparison with London and competitors with it.
Read the CBI’s London Revival Plan manifesto in full here.
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