It’s time for London to get smart

According to this entrepreneur

When my grandparents traded the arid Cypriot hills for a new life in London during the 50s, they were no doubt bowled over by the modern metropolis they would now call home. The inter-village donkey rides were upgraded to trips on the Underground, evening games of backgammon were replaced by visits to a state-of-the-art Cineplex, and the quiet stillness of village life was ceded for the vibrant neon of Piccadilly Circus.  

Yet, half-a-century later and visitors from overseas may be left questioning London’s supposed technological and infrastructural superiority. Whilst still a vital and much-loved service, our Underground falls behind the spacious and Wi-Fi enabled carriages of Seoul’s Metro.

Our suburban rail services are woefully inadequate compared to the pinpoint punctuality of Tokyo’s transit system. And Nairobi’s almost-cashless economy is a sign of things to come in London, but is still something that is far from fruition.

As one of the truly great cities of the world, it is only fair that we ask questions of why London’s innovation appears to have stalled over recent years. With Brexit looming, it is vitally important that London sends a message to the world that we are still a city of innovation and ideas. Under Sadiq Khan, TfL’s decision not to renew Uber’s license is sending the wrong message.

Our city has one of the fastest growing economies of all the Western global cities. We should match this success with an ambition that befits the kind of city we all want London to be.

Let’s become more vertically aggressive and build the towering skyscrapers that will add to the housing stock and drive down the cost of rent for small businesses. Let’s expand the ‘Boris Bikes’ scheme to include electric bicycles for use on longer rides that gets commuters out of polluting vehicles that clog up the roads.

Let’s create a City Hall-guaranteed online platform that enables like-minded aspiring homeowners to match and pool resources, making it easier to get onto the property ladder. London is no ordinary city, so why should we be satisfied with ordinary policies to bring us into the future?

As always, we must ensure sensible and sound fiscal behaviour, but with London’s economic dominance and the country’s changing relationship with Europe, now is the time for City Hall to think like a start-up and unlock the potential that is clear for everyone to see. 

Leon Emirali is an entrepreneur and investor and is standing for the Conservatives in next year’s London council elections. Follow him on Instagram and Twitter @LeonEmirali.

Social Bookmarks