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8 things the next London mayor MUST DO for businesses in the capital

by LLB Editor
4th Jan 16 8:40 am

London business leaders speak out

There are exactly 121 days to go until London gets its next mayor. Which burning issues do Londoners want their next mayor to tackle? Here’s what the capital’s top entrepreneurs told us:

1. Sort out airport capacity

Veteran venture capitalist Jon Moulton said: “A new mayor must stop the messing around of the decision on new airport capacity. If the English Rugby team was as good at kicking a ball down the road as the politicians have been on this; we would dominate world rugby. We really want a world leading airport set up – and soon.

“London needs to find cheaper ways to improve transport links than Crossrail and again on a timescale which is relevant to those voting this year. Movement within London gets ever harder and new and radical solutions need developing and implementing.”


2. Build London’s reputation of world’s best business destination

Lord Bilimoria, independent cross bench peer and founder and chairman of Cobra Beer, said:

“The next London Mayor must champion the capital’s attractive qualities to maintain and build on its reputation as a world-leading destination for great businesses and ambitious minds.  The London Mayor is in a powerful position to support and develop opportunities for small businesses to grow and thrive. I would like to see an improvement in broadband connectivity and telecommunications infrastructure in the city, as well increased support for London’s growing tech hub. 

“Furthermore, I hope they will follow Boris Johnson’s lead in supporting international students, who not only contribute to the capital’s economy but make up a large part of its talented workforce. We need to promote positive immigration, the type which has turned London into the most successful and cosmopolitan city in the world. It has given us so much: outstanding scientists; the best talent for our financial sector; and skilled chefs, such as those found in our world class curry restaurants, which have transformed the city’s food scene and allowed us to experience tastes from all over the globe. The ability to bring the best and brightest here has helped to build London into the most vibrant city in the world. This should be celebrated.”


3. Immigration

Russell Gould, COO, Everline, said:

“The next mayor of London needs to ensure the attempted clampdown on immigration doesn’t prevent the arrival of the right people and skills such as the best engineers or computer scientists. We need to avoid blanket restrictions that only end up harming the UK’s long-term prospects. We also need to make sure that investment in apprenticeships and the development of digital skills in schools takes place to nurture home grown talent in the areas currently suffering from a skills shortage – mainly the STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) subjects. This needs to be balanced carefully however, so that we don’t move too far away from the arts subjects, which could stifle the creativity and free thinking that has seen London become a world renowned innovation hub.”


4. More support for start-ups

Doug Monro, co-founder of job search engine Adzuna, said: “With the UK skills shortage continuing to bite, there’s plenty of scope for the new mayor to make some bold and exciting moves to help London businesses attract and retain top talent. Particularly for start-ups and small businesses, training more skilled workers in key areas like software development and data science, and helping attract people with those skills to London should remain a top priority, in 2016 and beyond.”

“It would also be great to see more London-wide support for start-ups, with investment and support for entrepreneurs across the capital, not just in Shoreditch!”


5. Increase investor engagement with UK tech businesses

Dan Wagner, founder and CEO of Powa Technologies, said: “Boris Johnson’s ambitions for the London of 2020 are to see a city which leads the world with its tech and financial prowess. In order to see this ambition realised, the next London mayor must not rest on his laurels: London may be a global leader but it will not remain in this position unless the mayor creates an environment that encourages domestic investment. At the moment, there is a lack of understanding about the technology sector amongst the UK investment community, and the mayor has a role to play in increasing investor engagement with UK tech businesses.”


6. Make London an attractive place for skilled IT workers

Paul Statham, founder and CEO of Condeco Software, said: “London is fast becoming a worldwide technology hub, with more and more UK tech firms experiencing fast growth. One of London’s advantages is its tremendous access to skilled professionals, but the talent war is continuing to heat up and companies are going to hit a point where a lack of top tech talent holds back growth. The next London mayor must take this possibility seriously and take actions to nurture skills and make London an attractive place for skilled IT workers to stay. This will need a holistic commitment, including everything from apprenticeships to transport links and housing prices.”


7. Strengthen London’s digital infrastructure

Nick Giles, co-founder of Seven Hills, said: “London is fast emerging as a global hub for the digital industries, and the next London mayor needs to ensure the capital’s digital infrastructure is able to support that growth – the UK has the largest internet economy in the G20 as a proportion of GDP, and yet much of the capital’s infrastructure is still reliant on copper wiring. As our digital economy disrupts an ever-increasing array of sectors, from media and finance to health and education, we need to make sure that our city’s broadband capabilities are able to support the innovation of our businesses. Whoever the next London mayor is will need to quickly address the broadband issue, before it begins to impede economic growth.” 


8. Boost the tech sector

Russ Shaw, founder of Tech London Advocates, said: “Technology is the fastest growing industry in the capital, and is absolutely crucial for the continued growth and economic importance of the city. It is therefore vital that the next London mayor understands the growth of the sector. That’s why Tech London Advocates has invited the four main mayoral candidates to ‘pitch’ to the technology community at our DebateTech event next year. Our group will present their policy and business recommendations to the candidates, demonstrating the needs and requirements of London most important sector.”

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