London mayor Ken Livingstone today unveiled his long-term strategic vision for the redevelopment of London (see ...
London mayor Ken Livingstone today unveiled his long-term strategic vision for the redevelopment of London (see LGCnet
). The plan anticipates the population of London increasing by 700,000 over the next 15 years and the drawing in of another 600,000 jobs into the capital over the same period. The mayor laid out, with all the legitimacy afforded to him as the elected leader of the London 'city region', ambitious plans to build on the already considerable economic advantage London and the South East has over other regions of England. The mayor is using his office to negotiate with central government significant increases in public investment in infrastructure to underpin the development plans.
The question being asked in the English regions, some of which are facing relative economic decline and stagnant or falling population levels on current trends, is 'Who will put forward such a vision for us?'
Commenting for the Campaign for the English Regions, campaign officer Don Price said: 'Ken Livingstone is doing the job he was elected to do for London. It is no criticism of him to say that the other English regions will continue to lose out until they have strong elected government to fight their corner and to give a voice to their ambitions for the future. Livingstone has been given the mechanisms required to improve quality of life and deliver redevelopment in London, and the people in the regions of England deserve the same opportunities for their region.
'The UK already has a two speed economy. London having he mechanisms required improve its economic performance where other, in many cases struggling regions do not, won't improve the overall performance of the UK economy. This country needs a balanced approach to development and a move away from the problems of congestion and spiralling housing costs caused by the overheating of the economy in the South East and London. The UK economic performance as a whole is dragged down by the resulting stagnation and decline in other regions of England. The national economy is after all, the sum of its parts. Ultimately we believe the sensible redistribution of development will only be achieved when there is a balance of political power between the regions and the centre.'
The government recently published its white paper 'Your Region, Your Choice' which holds out the prospect of elected regional assemblies. The London proposals are published on the same day as the government publishes its 'Quality of Life Barometer' (see LGCnet), which confirms the uneven development among the English regions.