Deputy Mayor bangs Brexit drum

Deputy Mayor for London Rajesh Agrawal said a good Brexit deal for London was top priority at City Hall at the West London Futures Conference.

The event, organised by West London Business (WLB) also featured Emma Hindes, General Manager at Westfield London, setting out how the expanded Westfield would in early 2018 become Europe’s largest shoping centre. Hindes also said that West London had the potential to be famous for its global connectivity, green environment and vibrant town centres & business districts.

The conference also heard reports from WLB’s four policy commissions, part of the organisation’s consultation on the documents.

The policy commissions were launched in February 2016 to establish evidence-based public policy positions for the West London business community.

Rajesh Agrawal, Deputy Mayor of London for Business, said:  “We are a city of opportunities and we are a city of dreams.  You can achieve what you want to achieve.   You can be what you want to be.  And particularly West London is a thriving small business community and is served by excellent transport links, which is so important for businesses.  And now West London is also forging a reputation as a leading place for science and technology companies to thrive.

“There is no doubt that the greatest business priority for the Mayor and I is to secure the best possible deal for London from the Brexit negotiations.  In fact that is now the biggest challenge that we face today as a city… that is why for our businesses we need unfettered access to the single market which is absolutely critical and we also need continued access to talent.

“I want to ensure the continued development of partnerships between the public and private sector in West London, the UK’s second largest economic powerhouse after the central London economic zone.  And despite the economic uncertainties [this is an] exciting time for West London with significant investment across the sub-region from HS2 coming to the Old Oak Common area, Westfield expansion, Imperial College at White City and Brent Cross regeneration approved in Barnet.”

Acknowledging the daily frustrations of broadband, well known by Park Royal businesses, Rajesh said: “It is 2017 and believe it or not there are still about 10% of properties in London where they can’t get access to broadband.  This is totally unacceptable and both the Mayor and I are fully committed to improving London’s digital connectivity.   For New Year I took my kids to Lapland in Finland and we were in the northern most village 250km north of the arctic circle and in an Igloo in the middle of nowhere I had a full 3G connection – and I don’t get that in City Hall by the way!”

Emma Hindes, General Manager at Westfield London, said: “In White City, due to the success of the Centre and high demand for retail space, we are expanding, adding an additional 700,000 sqft of retail, dining and leisure space to the scheme and introducing John Lewis as well as over 70 new stores. We are targeting early 2018 for the opening. Westfield London will become the largest shopping centre in Europe.”

“I note that that the West London Built Environment Policy Commission concluded that we should together invest in West London’s brand to ensure we are famous as “a thriving place to live and work – green and globally connected – with local food and culture permeating through vibrant town centres and business districts”.   This a vision of today’s West London that I wholeheartedly endorse.”

“Other emerging ideas from the commissions … that stand out as particularly interesting are:  The potentially transformative impact of Autonomous (driverless) Vehicles in freeing up road space in West London if we get the right solutions in place; [and] the need to remain ambitious in the pace at which we bring new and affordable homes on stream for West London’s workforce.”

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