Let’s celebrate the power of our great cities

Headline Date 03-05-2022

A message from our Chief Executive

Last night at a packed event in Westminster we unveiled a new umbrella brand for the South Westminster BIDs: London HQ, which I hope will help to amplify the positive story we have to tell about this unique part of central London.

We also launched a report with WPI Economics on the power of cities. In the face of our recovery from the pandemic, Brexit, the cost of living emergency, the war on talent, climate change and levelling up, there has never been a better time to remind ourselves about the important role cities like London play in our shared national prosperity. The report reveals the untapped potential of cities to contribute an extra £63bn by 2030, should they have London-level growth targets.

Cities are a huge national success story – through collaboration and innovation they shape and influence what our urban future looks like. They should be celebrated and recognised for the contribution they make: spreading prosperity and supporting growth, creating a ripple effect far beyond their boundaries.

The long awaited Levelling Up White Paper is clear on supporting other cities. The case for supporting areas outside of London who are suffering from poor economic outcomes is a strong one. However, this narrative is often accompanied by a framing against London. The truth is that Londoners are struggling too, with the city seeing the highest poverty rate in the country.

As a supporter of BIDs since they arrived in the UK more than 20 years ago, I appreciate the vital role that partnership plays in unlocking potential and tackling inequalities.

We stand on the edge of a new era of public / private partnership – and I hope we can forge a new compact between businesses, communities and policy makers, especially in the UK’s major cities, giving the private sector a real say in how our cities evolve in the future.

Devolution is a buzz word in the White Paper, offering other cities in the UK the opportunity to follow London’s devolution example. I could not agree more, but let’s not believe that London’s devolution model is the gold standard. We should push to go further here in the capital too.

I champion businesses being given a more formal voice in the civic governance process. There are of course models for this already – businesses have had the vote in the City of London since 1384.

Is it not time to consider a more inclusive process and representation of an area’s community, especially in major economic hubs such as the CAZ? It would be recognition of the significant contribution being made by the private sector in the ‘public’ realm.

Under our new London HQ banner we will be championing our part of the capital and the significant contribution our business communities play in promoting vibrancy and shaping the city of the future, where benefits are shared by all.

This is all part of developing a new narrative for London – empowering communities, sharing prosperity, and working more collaboratively.

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