London wants more money and more power.

Money for London

Feeding the milch cow
Feb 16th 2006
From The Economist print edition

Emboldened by its own success, London wants more money and power

FROM Dick Whittington on, whenever a British lad sets out to make his fortune, he heads to London. Britain's capital dominates national life in every way. It is more productive than the rest of the country, accounting for 18% of Britain's GDP with only 12% of its population. It has the best museums, the biggest theatres, the most foreigners and the most exciting jobs. Globalisation has only increased its economic dominance. The city is a world financial centre, and its population is growing by around 50,000 a year.

So it looked rather odd when, last week, London First, a business lobby group, released a report arguing that the capital needed more cash from central government. Despite the city's impressive growth, it wants the Treasury to put an extra £6.7 billion into transport and education in London by 2011.

This plea will startle other Britons, who, if they think of it, expect London's wealth to be redistributed to the rest of the country (one reason why London's public services are so poor). Certainly the official line used to be that London's development should be restrained so that the shires would not be left behind. The businessmen argue, correctly, that London competes for investment not with other British cities, but with the likes of New York, Paris and Shanghai. What's good for London is good for the rest of Britain, and without better transport links and a brighter workforce, the city risks losing the fickle foreigners who have fuelled its success.

In any case, not every London street is paved with gold. Parts of the capital are very deprived: three of Britain's five poorest districts are in London. At 7.3%, its unemployment rate is the highest in the country.

The city's wealth, too, is skewed towards the extremes, as the chart shows, with more than half of residents in either the top or bottom national income quintiles (and both victims of London's appallingly high prices). That is in large part due to London's heavy dose of immigrants. A third of its workforce was born overseas, and migrant workers tend to be either very well educated or almost totally unskilled. More education and better transport, says London First, would both reduce deprivation and improve the capital's economy by allowing more people to get jobs.

Along with more money, Londoners want more control over how their city is run. Ken Livingstone, London's mayor, has far less power than, say, the mayor of New York but far more than his colleagues in other British cities. He has control of London's transport network, as well as limited powers over planning and the police. He can even levy a small tax on his citizens.

Mr Livingstone has made the most of his powers, especially in transport. His congestion-charging scheme has reduced traffic snarl-ups, and he has revitalised the bus network. Beginning in 2007, he will gain control over some of the commuter rail lines that serve the city.

Many Londoners see extending his powers as the key to further improvements. London First supports his bid for personal control over skills training, which is currently the preserve of regional agencies. Mr Livingstone has also suggested granting himself more powers over planning, to prevent his decisions being scuppered by unco-operative local authorities. A governmental review of his purview is due to report soon.

Yet despite this talk of more independence, London's fate still depends on central government, which holds the purse strings. Tony Travers, of the London School of Economics, points out that Mr Livingstone's own piggy-bank is now empty. London First claims that even if the mayor did get extra revenue-raising powers, new taxes would merely drive firms overseas. “If we want more cash for economic development,” says Mr Travers, “it will be a case of battering against the Treasury's door until they hand over the money.” There is an argument for letting London keep more of its own wealth to spend within its city limits. But convincing the rest of the country could be tricky.

London is also undergoing a boom in building skyscrapers -

Skyscrapers that have just been built and are currently being built.

How a part of London's skyline should look in 2008.

This astonishing rendering/montage shows the enormous growth that's predicted and proposed for Canary Wharf over the coming years. The nucleus is already there but the density is such that you can't even see half of Heron Quays and West India Quay is completely invisible.

This rendering shows Riverside South on the left, some unbuilt proposals for Heron Quays including Will Alsop's technicolour proposal to its immediate right and directly infront of them the London arena. Part of the Millenium Quarter is also visible with the new proposal for 1 Millharbour though many rises have vanished too again because of the density. Behind HSB and Citigroup is two towers for North Quay and finally a completely Barclays tower.

Visible or invisible because of density are 14 skyscrapers over 500ft tall, plus a further 7 over 100m tall. To put it another way Canary Wharf in 2008 when all this is scheduled for completition will be comparable to today's San Francisco.

2012 - Year of the London Olympics.

Sunset on an evening in 2008.
Quote: Originally Posted by Blackleaf

London wants more money and power

Who doesn't?

As for the skyscrappers? Somehow it just doesn't look right in old European capitals.
Quote: Originally Posted by DasFX

Quote: Originally Posted by Blackleaf

London wants more money and power

Who doesn't?

As for the skyscrappers? Somehow it just doesn't look right in old European capitals.

Yeah, it's got nothing on the gold encrusted skyscrapers of toronto, man theyve got enough for both of them, and they dont look out of place there

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