Fight strikers and stop Whitehall ripping us off, London firms tell next mayor

London businesses have revealed their top priorities for the next London mayor in a landmark new survey conducted by ComRes for LondonlovesBusiness.com

With the 2012 mayoral election now less than eight months away, the LondonlovesBusiness.com/ComRes results suggest that an urgent rethink is needed in many areas of City Hall policy. But they also offer a clear mandate for the next mayor to push central government for greater power and autonomy over London affairs.

London businesses’ priorities for the next mayor are:

Unions: Stop strikes

  • 57 per cent of business leaders said that “limiting the number of strikes held on the Underground” was a top transport priority, compared to 51 per cent of members of the public.
  • 60 per cent of London’s executives said that they “would vote for a mayoral candidate who takes a strong line on public sector strikes in London”.
  • 53 per cent said they have “little sympathy for public sector workers striking over spending cuts”.

 

Crime: Make the streets safer

  • 71 per cent of Londoners, and 65 per cent of business leaders across the city and the South-east, said that reducing crime should be high on the mayor’s priority list.
  • 40 per cent of all Londoners cited street crime as a great threat to companies and workers.

 

Transport: Tackle roadworks, abandon plans for a new airport and make investment in public transport the #1 policy at City Hall

  • 57 per cent of London business leaders say that reducing disruption from roadworks should be a top priority for the next mayor. Just 14 per cent said that a new runway at Heathrow or a new airport in the Thames Estuary should be a priority.
  • Improving public transport and transport links was cited by firms in the capital as the “the single most important thing that the Mayor could do to promote London as a world class place to do business”.

 

Tax: Stop central government siphoning London’s wealth

  • 57 per cent of business leaders said that Londoners “are unfairly subsidising other parts of the UK”.
  • 70 per cent of the capital’s business leaders argue that “government money spent in London benefits the whole of the UK because of the surplus tax generated by London’s economy”.

 

Education and skills: Improve rudimentary skills

  • 58 per cent of business leaders in the capital believe that “graduates in London too often lack basic literacy and numeracy skills”.

 

London living costs: Build homes that our workers can afford

  • 69 per cent of London business leaders – and Londoners as a whole – believe that the affordability of living in their neighbourhood has got worse over the past five years.
  • 89 per cent of London executives believe that “London is too expensive a place to live if you earn an average salary”.

 

ComRes surveyed 501 London business leaders and 501 members of the public living in London online between 25 July and 2 August 2011. A further online survey was conducted among 401 members of the public and 260 business leaders living in London and the South-east between 9 August and 11 August 2011 to address two specific topics: priorities given by the mayor and threats to London’s businesses and workforce.

 

What business wants from the next London mayor

 

“London’s transport system needs immediate attention and [policymakers] need to do something about the strikes, now!”

Peter Gordon, founder and managing director, In-Deed Online

 

“I’m sure the problem exists in the towns, villages and cities across Britain. But it’s the roadworks in London caused by the utility companies that really make my blood boil.”

Charlie Mullins, founder of Pimlico Plumbers

 

“It is 20 years since the latest roadworks legislation was placed on the statute book and it is about time these provisions were implemented. For too long road users – whether using foot, cycle, bus, lorry or car – have been bearing the cost of utilities digging up the road via the congestion they cause. A large majority of our members (71 per cent) support the need for heavier penalties on utility companies which cause disruption. Anything that can stimulate more efficient working to reduce or eliminate this congestion is welcome and we hope the proposals will be positively received and can be implemented quickly.  We very much welcome TfL’s lane rental consultation being launched just one day after the Department for Transport’s.”

Edmond King, president of the AA

 

“The real thing that London needs is more and better programming talent. All jobs and industries are moving towards software, and programming and math knowledge is becoming essential. If London wants to compete in the future, this is the only thing that will make a real difference.”

Joshua March, technology entrepreneur and director of Conversocial

 

“A young person in London would have to not eat, pay rent or go out and save every penny of their wages for three years to get the deposit required for a starter home. The mayor needs to find a way of ensuring more homes of all types and sizes are delivered in the capital.”

Steve Turner, communications director, Home Builders Federation

 

 “With a growing number of businesses from the fast growing economies in the Far East looking to expand their operations into Europe, London is in competition with some pretty slick transport networks as seen in Switzerland and Germany. We simply cannot afford to let our ageing transport infrastructure fall behind whilst other European centres are spending money on theirs.”

Richard Reid, chairman, KPMG London

 

“Given London’s pre-eminent position in the UK economy, the capital’s businesses accept that some of their taxes will always be redistributed to other parts of the country. It is often forgotten, however, that parts of the capital face the very same challenges around deprivation, inequality and worklessness that are seen elsewhere in the UK and those can only be tackled with significant public backing. We have long argued that there needs to be a rebalancing of regional spending so that more of the taxes that are raised in London are spent in London.”

Colin Stanbridge, chief executive, London Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI)

 

“Policymakers need to focus on letting businesses do business – and working out how we can prevent a lost generation in London. The country need politicians who know what they stand for so that people can get behind them, There are too many flip flops and U-turns – such as Boris walking down the streets of Clapham with a broom having said the day before he wasn’t coming back.”

Chris Cole, joint MD of Make It Cheaper

 

“Particularly in light of the London 2012 Games next year, public-sector strikes at this time could cause huge reputational damage to London, during a year when we are looking to build London’s reputation and focus on the positives the Games can bring, not just to London, but to the rest of the country as well.

There is also a concern, after the civil unrest of early August, that any strikes could be seen as a focus point for those who might wish to hijack legitimate protest for their own purposes, and we could see further unrest. Many small businesses are either physically rebuilding themselves, or suffering from the knock-on effect on footfall in their shopping centres and their high streets, and they are concerned they would not survive another round of unrest and looting.”

Hannah Holdroyd, London development manager at the Federation of Small Businesses

 

Personal tax is obscene and makes London so expensive that young Londoners have to turn to the bank of mum and dad for everything.”

Harry Hill, Founder, Rightmove.co.uk

 

 

 

 

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