This month, LCA Director Jenna Goldberg writes the foreword of our April issue of LDN, London in short. You can subscribe to receive this and future issues here.
Westminster has been attacked, Article 50 has been triggered, George Osborne has been employed (again). Those three events were probably the three major talking points of the month just gone, at least in our world. Despite the tragedy of the first item, the complexity of the second and the slightly surreal quality of the third, each grabs our attention and quite rightly compels us to debate and discussion.
Then there are the newsworthy items that are a little trickier to summarise and so can be lost amongst the headlines. There are three in particular in the pages of this month’s LDN that one could argue are even more critical to London’s long-term prosperity than Brexit or the editorial direction of the Evening Standard. Housing, schools and air quality, or more specifically, affordable housing, funding for schools and improving air quality. All are absolutely vital to London’s ongoing competitiveness on the world’s stage and to the quality of life for its existing residents but all suffer from the same malady – there is no easy headline and no quick fix. All three need long-term solutions and years of hard graft to get right.
Indeed, even the Mayor’s press release celebrating the partnership with L&Q to build 20,000 new homes manages our expectations by noting that fixing the housing crisis remains a ‘marathon not a sprint’. ‘Housing crisis solved’ is not a headline we are ever likely to read. Our guest contribution from Pat Hayes, Ealing Council’s Director of Regen and Housing, reminds us that a single estate regeneration, and a wellhandled, successful one at that, can take years to achieve.
London’s schools have seen a remarkable, almost miraculous improvement over the last 20 years and there nwas never a single moment of celebration, no one day plastered with triumphant headlines. It is perhaps because of this that the victory is now at risk of being eroded; proposed changes to the funding formula would result in reduced funding for 70% of London’s schools.
Meanwhile, a national ‘super-inquiry’ has just been convened to address our increasingly poor air quality and the impact of ‘invisible particulates’. I suspect if they were visible we might have gotten to it sooner. As more and more Parliamentary time is dedicated to Brexit over the next few years, it will be difficult to give due attention where it’s needed but we hope for now that you pore over the pages of LDN and take in the sheer volume of work and change that is taking place across the city, whether it makes for good headlines or not.