Whoever wins on 5th May should use London’s position as a gatekeeper to promote businesses beyond the capital.
London is a global city, one that rightly aspires to be the best place in the world to do business. It is also our capital, and its success helps power the country’s economy. The Key Cities group (which consists of 26 cities across England and Wales) welcomes the role the next Mayor of London will play in providing direction and inspiration for all cities across the country.
Previous London mayors have served as outstanding global ambassadors for the London brand, but the next person to hold office has the opportunity to advocate for all cities, rather than just the capital. The incoming Mayor can help replicate London’s success and prosperity by advocating the benefits of devolution for all cities that are ready to control their own destiny.
He or she can also use his public profile to promote creative solutions and advocate the opportunities that come from some of the country’s most pressing needs, be they in the areas of skills, infrastructure or transport. All candidates for London Mayor have recognised the urgency of the housing crisis in the capital, and all have been looking for different ways of using the Mayor’s powers to support councils to get more homes built. A bold Mayor can help pioneer and pilot solutions that may be relevant to the rest of the country. After all, London is not the only city with a housing crisis. Many of our Key Cities group are growing rapidly, but are severely constrained by a lack of affordable housing. The London Mayor can speak for growing cities everywhere who need more homes.
I would hope that London uses its status as a global city to generate greater investment in other places in the UK. Foreign investors naturally regard the capital as their entry point into British markets. London is in a sense a gatekeeper for the whole country – it can signpost new businesses to supply chain options located in other British cities. After all, a dynamic and competitive supply chain requires an extensive network, and our Key Cities are ideally placed to provide just that. If we have an ally in the Mayor of London, we can achieve higher productivity and a more inclusive economy together.
As I have written before, London’s achievements do not need to detract from cities elsewhere in England. And our successes in the Key Cities group do not need to detract from London. We might be distinct cities, with unique needs and traditions, but we are part of the same national economy, providing jobs, investment, expertise, and opportunities for one another. We should never turn inward, but neither should we forget our links with each other. The evidence from London is that devolution works and this should be used to strongly promote devolution elsewhere. The Mayor is uniquely positioned to do that. He can correctly argue that London can only be made greater, by stronger and more resilient economies around the UK interacting with it.
The Mayor of London should be the leader of the city movement in the UK. He (and the polls suggest it will be a ‘he’) can use his powers and his profile to push the devolution to other cities, using the capital as a success story. He can campaign for more imaginative solutions to problems which affect London, and cities across the country. And he can use London’s position as a gatekeeper to promote businesses beyond the capital. Most of all, the Mayor can make the case that resilient and empowered cities make each other greater, and our country the stronger for it.
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