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Citizen today, April 2011 - London: embracing the future - EY - Global

Citizen Today, April 2011

London: embracing the future

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"“London is an amazing city but we can learn from others. We would like to have the dynamism of New York, the civility of Vienna, the spectacular setting of Sydney and the joie de vivre of Paris.” -- Boris Johnson, Mayor of London

Summary: Mayor of London Boris Johnson says he has “the most brilliant job in British politics.” Learn why he believes Londoners can be confident about their city’s future.

Ambitious dreams

London, under Mayor Boris Johnson’s leadership, aims to be “the best big city in the world.”

The Mayor’s role as the executive of London’s strategic authority is to promote economic development and wealth creation, social development and improvement of the environment

Before using many of his powers, the Mayor must consult with Londoners, and in all cases the Mayor must promote equality of opportunity.

The Mayor has a duty to set out plans and policies for London covering transport, planning and development, housing, economic development and regeneration, culture, health inequalities, and a range of environmental issues including climate change, biodiversity, ambient noise, waste disposal and air quality.

Together, these plans and policies must also contribute to sustainable development and the health of Londoners. The Mayor also has various other duties in relation to culture and tourism, including responsibility for Trafalgar Square and Parliament Square.

Who is Boris Johnson?

Being the mayor is a job Johnson has taken to with panache. Having been born in New York, he moved with his family to London when he was five years old and he has repeatedly made clear his admiration for the city he has governed since May 2008.

Underpinning his administration’s actions is the ambition “bring out the very best in London — helping its companies to grow, its communities to thrive and its people to prosper.”

The environment, too, is taking precedence. As part of the Mayor’s sustainable development policy, there is a formal commitment to reduce London’s carbon emissions by 60% from 1990 levels by 2025.

Johnson also wants to encourage activity and investment in projects designed to tackle climate change in order to demonstrate their deliverability and commercial viability to the private sector.

This will have the triple effect of boosting London’s low carbon economy, creating jobs and tackling climate change.

Growing for business

Canary Wharf is a prime example of the type of growth the Mayor’s looking for. It was an area of the city once known as a derelict dockyard. Then a large, national newspaper group moved in and it eventually evolved into a financial center and massive retail space.

The next evolution of growth may lie in Crossrails. This transportation construction project Crossrail, involving the construction of twin tunnels under central London at a projected cost of £16b, will link Heathrow Airport, the West End, the City of London and Canary Wharf and is scheduled to be fully operational in 2017.

It is expected to create 70,000 jobs over the lifetime of the project.

With London’s population expected to grow by 1.3 million over the next 20 years, extra investment is evidently vital. One area of focus for the Mayor is London Underground, where the current renovation program will, when complete, provide an extra 30% capacity.

Bike it

Cycling, though, is where Johnson — himself a keen cyclist — is most closely identified. Under his administration, hundreds of millions of pounds are being spent on bicycle routes, bicycle parking, education programs, adult and child bicycle training and events.

The most notable though is a bicycle hire scheme which successfully launched last year. When complete, it will provide 6,000 bikes from 400 docking stations across 9 London boroughs and the Royal Parks.

Planning for the future

Keeping a city moving is undoubtedly crucial for any mayor, but for London it is especially important, given the competition that exists between leading world cities. “We need to be able to attract the best and most highly skilled people to London from around the world,” adds Skinner.

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