By Oliver Deed
The Prime Minister’s announcement of a referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union has dominated the newspapers, and political discussion across the country. In fact, if you had just landed on planet earth, you would be forgiven for thinking the EU referendum and Donald Trump’s seemingly relentless march towards the Republican nomination for US president were the only political shows in town.
But you would be wrong. On Thursday 5th May, Londoners will head to the polls to elect the next Mayor of London. This position comes with the second-largest direct electoral mandate of any European politician, behind only the French president, as well as wide-ranging powers to shape the future of London. For London businesses, this election is one worth paying attention to.
Realistically, it will be Sadiq Khan or Zac Goldsmith who will take over from Boris Johnson at City Hall.
Readers of Workspace’s HomeWork magazine will know already that a number of characters are battling it out to be Mayor, but realistically, it will be Sadiq Khan or Zac Goldsmith who will take over from Boris Johnson at City Hall. So you might be asking, as a business owner or an employee in one of London’s New and Growing Companies, where do things stand currently?
First off, both have had things to say on business policy. On January 27th, Conservative candidate, Zac Goldsmith released his business manifesto, outlining a series of pledges. Here are a few of the key ones:
- A Chief Digital Officer for London
- A new Business Advisory Group
- Use of TfL’s 560km network of rail routes to help deliver superfast broadband in London
- The inclusion of affordable office space in new developments
- Cuts to City Hall red tape
Not to be outdone, his Labour rival, Sadiq Khan has promised to be “the most pro-business mayor ever” with a series of pledges designed to grab the attention of businesses, including:
- A Chief Digital Officer for London
- Rewards for businesses who pay a London Living Wage
- A new Business Advisory Board
- A partnership between the Mayor and stakeholder groups to deliver a plan to improve skills for Londoners
- A new apprenticeship scheme for young people in London
- Use of Mayoral powers to protect incubator and start-up space from development
Now, the policy wonks among you are probably calling out for a bit more of a clear direction from both candidates, and that is entirely understandable. Almost two and half months out from the election, there is no doubt more to come.
After all, the challenges London faces are enormous, but so are the opportunities the city has to thrive and grow. On the desk of the next Mayor are issues that will have a direct impact on your business.
Business rates proceeds are set to be devolved to local authorities who will have the ability to cut them for businesses. Will the Mayor be given any powers to support local authorities set to lose out as a result of this, and if so what does that mean for your business rate liability?
The rollout of superfast broadband across the capital will be an important issue facing the next Mayor of London.
The next London Plan will be drafted under Khan or Goldsmith, and this will help to shape how commercial space and housing are delivered in London for years to come. The London plan could have a profound impact on the affordability of property, which in turn could have implications for recruitment and skills retention for all businesses in London.
The rollout of superfast broadband across the capital will be an important issue facing the next Mayor of London, and the success or failure of this could have consequences for New and Growing Companies in London.
There is much more to come from the two leading Mayoral candidates and it would be wise to watch out for what they have to say on the issues above in the coming weeks and months. One thing is certain – the next Mayor will help to shape London’s business community for years to come.
Oliver Deed is an Account Director at Snapdragon Consulting