London’s financial executives return to the city… or do they?
Lord Mayor William Russell is very keen to see London’s financial sector returning to the Square Mile, but lefty Sadiq Khan is stalling. Here is an insight into the two viewpoints from today’s discussions
Conflicting reports have been circulating today around whether the City of London, a square mile which is the world’s largest and most important financial center, is about to see a return en masse of workers.
London’s world dominating financial services business is very different to many other location-specific industry sectors in that the dynamic of being in the City, among colleagues, friends, commercial partners and the full range of infrastructure, business opportunity and lifestyle that goes with it is a driving factor for success of individuals and companies.
Unlike many provincial areas in which there has been a quiet apathy among the general workforce who have silently not minded being at home for several months, London’s executives are keen to return to work, many (me included) disapproving strongly of the government’s coercive measures of forcing closures on every business and public space nationally.
Positive voices from within have said today that despite the sights across the Square Mile remaining strikingly familiar, those who have already returned will have noticed a number of changes. A new dawn has begun in the City.
A lot of effort has been poured into ensuring that workers, residents and visitors are able to engage with the incredibly special spaces that make the City unique in a safe and sustainable way.
Lord Mayor of London William Russell, whose tenure began just before the absurd lockdown, taking over from Peter Estling who I had the pleasure of meeting early this year, has been very upbeat this morning about the return to work for many people.
He said that the City is welcoming people back to Central London.
“Social distancing remains key, so our transport recovery plan is creating additional space for pedestrians and cyclists on the City’s narrow historic streets — in parallel with work done by employers to make offices Covid-19 secure. It is fantastic to see a growing number of people enjoying this new space to move safely about the Square Mile. The initial phases of this work are almost complete and over the coming weeks semi-permanent measures, including additional seating, will be installed” said the Lord Mayor.
“Many of these changes have the potential to accelerate the objectives of our City Plan 2036 and Transport Strategy, which both focused on sustainable travel and the greening of our urban landscape well before Covid-19. Projects such as the widening of footpaths outside Mansion House at Bank Junction show the real difference we can make to the look, feel and use of our public spaces. The work we have undertaken will enhance the City’s long-term attractiveness by also helping to combat air pollution and improve road safety” he continued.
“Numerous vibrant and historic attractions across the Square Mile have also reopened. Social distancing requirements mean that they are operating with reduced capacity, but this also means visitors are having an altogether unique experience. St Paul’s Cathedral, Tower Bridge, the Museum of London, the Guildhall Art Gallery, and the galleries and conservatory of the Barbican have all been welcoming people back” he said.
“Of course, it’s not only about arts, culture and heritage here. We recognise that our fantastic retail and hospitality offerings have been facing exceptionally difficult trading conditions. As more and more people return to the City, I hope they will enjoy the many historic pubs, cafes and top rate restaurants across the Square Mile — building on the successful Eat Out to Help Out scheme. In line with our commitment to supporting these businesses and enabling outdoor trading, we are also working to reallocate some street space to al fresco dining where it is safe to do so” he concluded.
On the other hand, socialist Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, whose interest in private enterprise, entrepreneurship and large corporate powerhouses that not only built London but have made it into the plate glass, sophisticated world-beating talent base that it is today is a forced one by circumstance. He is Mayor of not only a highly capitalist city, but the birthplace of capitalism, yet holds socialist views which he has to suppress as he represents Greater London, one of the most wealthy free market epicenters in the world.
Mr Khan this morning contradicted Lord Mayor Russell’s enthusiasm, by saying Central London will be empty for some time yet.
Perhaps that is wishful thinking on his part, bearing in mind that he represents a political party whose Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer (the person who makes the budget and is responsible for government policy on financial matters) John McDonnell is a self-confessed communist who wrote publicly “I will foment the overthrow of capitalism” and that London’s financial sector was his main target which he intended to attack with vigor should be be elected.
A man who was about to cut the head off his own country.
Thankfully he was not elected, and is now out of that position, however Mr Khan’s motives for attempting to revel in the false sense that people are not going back to work in London are questionable to say the least.
He said this morning ““The reality is that unless we have a vaccine for the virus we aren’t going to get anywhere near 100 per cent for some time – that’s just a reality unless you’re reckless.”
Another socialist using a ‘virus’ to try to scare people into submission. He continued “We think on the London Underground that a safe number at any one time is about 25% [capacity] and a safe number on the buses is 40 per cent.”
More draconian restrictions from the party that despises prosperity, has not been elected into government, yet is responsible for overseeing London’s councils.
It comes as City Hall (The Mayor’s office) is launching a survey asking London business owners how much of their workforce can safely return to their workplace under current government guidelines.
Mr Khan said this could provide clarity on predicted High Street footfall for the short-to-medium term future, while adding that it will also show the need for further government intervention.
A good piece of advice, as per the old British adage, is ‘Keep calm and carry on.”