West London still needs to push itself if it is to maintain its position in the UK economy – tackling issues such as power, waste, and congestion, says Jo Valentine of London First.
Baroness Valentine was speaking at the West London Business Dinner at the Waldorf Hilton.
She picked the three issues as key to the future of the sub-region. “There is no forward thinking on planning future power needs”, she said. London as a whole needs to make sure it makes provision for the power needs of both business and domestic customers, ensuring we do not have any of the shortages we remember from the 1970s.
Waste – focussing on sewage – was also a key issue. And she said the Thames Tideway Tunnel – the “Supersewer” – which aims to upgrade London’s victorian system and reduce the amount of “peak flow” raw sewage into the Thames, was an important new piece of infrastructure.
She discussed congestion, and said that she felt some form of road pricing would be good for business, as it would reduce traffic on the roads, allowing for speedier travel around the sub-region. She cited Singapore as an example of where this has been achieved.
Finally, she turned to aviation, and repeated her call for new links to developing economies. “UK Plc does twenty times the business with a nation where we have a direct flight as we do where there is no direct flight”, she said, emphasising that we need to find a way, in the short term, of getting more flights in and out of Heathrow and other London airports to ensure that this happens.
On expansion, she said that she felt Heathrow was the “least bad” option, and that “the voice of the West London Business community was one politicians should listen to”.