This is the 100th edition of LDN (in its current form that is, as it has existed in different formats for almost 20 years!)!
Thank you so much for reading and for letting us know that you really value it. In our recent readers’ survey, 94% of our respondents said they like receiving LDN and 96% told us they learn something new in most editions.
A lot happens in our world every week and our brilliant research team, Stefanos and Emily, are single-minded when it comes not only to ensuring that you have the headlines delivered to your inbox every Wednesday afternoon but that each densely-packed paragraph accurately captures the details and nuances of the story.
We really believe that understanding the bigger picture helps us to be better at our jobs. This is of course true for us at LCA as we advise clients on how to navigate the ever-changing political landscape – from the hyper-local to the national and even global – but it’s almost certainly true for all of you as well.
We hope that, as we traverse a period of potentially intense change for the capital and the country, you will find our insight more valuable than ever.
We have made a few cosmetic changes for the occasion, our graphic design team like to keep things fresh, and of course we will soon launch our special election section as well as some extra opinion pieces from the LCA team.
Thanks again for reading and as always please don’t be shy if you have any feedback or comments, we love to hear from you.
Jenna Goldberg, Director
LDN HITS 100
So what does the 100th edition hold? We’ve got the latest on polling, parliamentary candidate selections and news of City Hall’s organisational transformation.
It has also been a week of sombre reflection, the Grenfell fire, the Croydon Tram Crash and the London Bridge terrorist attack all in the news.
Aside from the above, planning matters in Greenwich, Westminster and Tower Hamlets feature in today's edition. We also have a quick rundown of yesterday’s tremendous London Conference, where we heard some early pitches from most of the Mayoral candidates.
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GENERAL ELECTION LATEST
Today marks the official start of the five-week campaigning period, ahead of polling day on 12 December. Parliament has been formally dissolved and all of the parties have now launched their national campaigns. The Conservatives are still leading in the national polls, though in London there’s a slightly different story. A survey of 1,175 Londoners (taken between 30 October and 4 November) by YouGov for Queen Mary University’s Mile End Institute has found that:
- Labour is ahead in London with 39%, followed by the Tories at 29%, the Liberal Democrats at 19%, the Brexit Party at 6% and the Greens at 5%.
- The polling suggests a sizeable (if not overwhelming) boost for the Liberal Democrats since the last election in 2017, as they are up by 10 points. For their part, Labour and the Conservatives will be concerned at signs of an eroding vote share (down 16 and four points respectively), which could well cost them seats across the city.
- Of the three top parties’ leaders, Swinson enjoys the highest satisfaction rating, with a net score of +2 (compared to -19 for Johnson and a dismal -45 for Corbyn).
- And as for the big issues for Londoners: Brexit is by far the most pressing, followed by health, the economy, crime, and the environment.
MORE CANDIDATES BY THE DAY
The latest Parliamentary candidates announced for London include:
- Leader of Westminster City Council Nickie Aiken, who has been selected to contest the Cities of London and Westminster by the Conservatives, replacing incumbent Mark Field who is standing down.
- Former Southwark Labour Councillor Gordon Nardell, who will stand against Aiken. Nardell was selected as a replacement for Steven Saxby, who was suspended from the party last month.
- Bell Ribeiro-Addy, Diane Abbott’s Chief of Staff, who has been selected to stand for Labour in the seat currently held by Chukka Umunna (Lib Dem, formerly Lab) in Streatham.
- Abena Oppong-Asare, Chair of Labour Women’s Network, who has been selected as the PPC in place of Teresa Pearce who is standing down in Erith & Thamesmead.
- Olga FitzRoy, who will stand for Labour in Croydon South, leading an effort to unseat Tory Chris Philp, who is seeking re-election.
And in the Mayoral election, the latest candidate to enter the race is pastor and CEO of Tottenham-based charity The Peace Alliance Nims Obunge, who will run as an independent (read on for more on the Mayoral election, in the Caught Our Eye section below).
KIDBROOKE STATION SQUARE
The public hearing for the Kidbrooke Station Square development in Greenwich took place on 31 October. Jules Pipe, Deputy Mayor for Planning, Regeneration and Skills, granted approval for the development, with what seems to be only minor amendments. The scheme had been refused planning consent by Greenwich Council in July this year, before being called in by the GLA in August. The Council had justified its refusal by arguing that the construction of the proposed buildings would represent an ‘overdevelopment’ of the site, amongst other factors. However, the public hearing report states that the GLA deems the scheme’s density to be ‘appropriate’. The development, which is to be delivered by the Kidbrooke Partnership LLP joint venture between Transport for London and Notting Hill Genesis, will see 619 homes delivered on the site, of which 51% will be affordable (an offer apparently unchanged from that refused by Greenwich), in addition to a nursery and office and retail space.
WESTMINSTER CITY PLAN PROGRESSES
The latest iteration of Westminster’s City Plan has been released. Councillors are expected to approve the document at the next Full Council next Wednesday (13 November), ahead of submission to the Communities Secretary for his final approval. The plan has undergone a period of consultation following the publication of its draft in November 2018 and a full log of the comments, official responses and consequent amendments have been published as a Schedule of Proposed Minor Modifications. One key change is that the borough has lowered its overall target for homes in the period between 2029 and 2040, from 29,900 to 22,222 – though their target of 1,495 new homes annually between 2019-2029 specifically has been retained, as has its 35% affordable minimum requirement. The final City Plan also includes a higher requirement for affordable housing in estate regeneration schemes (seeking to provide 50% - an increase from 35% following discussions with the Mayor of London’s office), as well as more protections for existing affordable and family sized housing more generally.
WHO LET THE DOGS OUT
Following a lengthy pause since the end of its consultation in August 2018, the Isle of Dogs and South Poplar Opportunity Area Planning Framework (OAPF) was adopted with the Mayor’s approval (but very little fanfare), meaning it now has material weight in planning processes. The current London Plan designates 39 areas with wide expanses of brownfield land, across London, as Opportunity Areas with significant capacity for redevelopment. The corresponding Planning Frameworks are intended to help specify how these areas can be developed. This particular 390-hectare area is home to some of London’s most deprived communities and the OAPF also seeks to ensure any development delivers improvements and opportunities for local residents. A GLA officers’ report to the Mayor suggests ‘there are no matters of substantive change’ between the draft and final documents and the headline figures have remained the same; namely an ambition to deliver a minimum of 31,000 additional homes (of which at least 35% should be affordable) and 110,000 additional jobs by 2041. However, there is an expanded public realm section and greater emphasis on new developments improving air quality.
MAYFAIR NEIGHBOURHOOD PLAN
Following the South Bank & Waterloo Neighbourhood Plan referendum last week, local residents and businesses voted on the Mayfair Neighbourhood Plan on 31 October. 86% of participating residents (on a 14% turnout) and 91% of businesses (on a 38% turnout) voted in favour of the plan, meaning that Westminster City Council will now be required to take the plan into account when making decisions on planning applications within the plan’s boundaries.
LEST WE FORGET
- The British Transport Police has revealed this week that the driver of the Croydon tram which crashed in November 2016, killing seven and injuring a further 50, will not face charges due to insufficient evidence. The families of the victims responded to the news with anger and frustration, with one relative calling it ‘a kick in the face’. TfL is keen to show that lessons have been learned from the crash and it was announced last month that London’s trams will be fitted with automatic braking systems to prevent a similar incident occurring in future.
- Meanwhile, reactions to the Grenfell Inquiry’s Phase 1 report continue. Grenfell United, the most prominent group of survivors and victims’ families, have welcomed the report’s recommendations, calling for these to be implemented as soon as possible. Many Grenfell families have called for the Fire Commissioner to resign over the report's findings. For his part, Sadiq Khan, as well as the national Labour leadership, have stood by the London Fire Brigade (LFB).
- The families of those who lost their lives in the London Bridge terror attack in June 2017 have voiced their concern regarding the safety barriers installed after the attack took place. The victims’ families have highlighted that the barriers to prevent a repeat attack installed on many of London’s bridges are not permanent, saying that progress towards the installation of permanent barriers has not been fast enough.
THE LONDON CONFERENCE
We were delighted to attend Centre for London’s 9th London Conference yesterday – all the more so as LCA Chairman Robert Gordon Clark and Director Jenna Goldberg took attendees on a whistle-stop tour of key issues and trends in the leadup to the upcoming General and London Elections. We also had our ever-evolving Who Runs London graphic on display, which generated plenty of discussion!
The Conference also saw most of the 2020 Mayoral frontrunners grilled in one-to-one interviews with Daily Mirror Political Editor Pippa Crerar and Sadiq Khan delivered the Conference’s keynote speech. There weren’t really any policy pledges announced, but with a General Election to be fought between now and May 2020 that was always going to be tricky. It was however interesting to see how candidates' lines-of-attack and messaging are beginning to take shape, suggesting that the election may well be fought more on ‘values’ than policy and that crime and safety may come before even Brexit as the number one issue. Of course, with six months to go, these are just the opening skirmishes.
Here’s a quick, indicative round-up of key positions put forward by the candidates:
- Sadiq Khan focused on Brexit and the upcoming General Election, arguing for a London which remains ‘open’ while criticising the Government’s approach to Brexit and immigration.
- Conservative Shaun Bailey said that if he were to be elected Mayor, his first priority would be tackling knife crime, which he said is ‘a social mobility issue’.
- Green candidate Sian Berry said that as Mayor, her priority would (predictably) be the environment, asserting that Khan has moved too slowly and with too little ambition in this area and arguing London is ready for a Green Mayor.
- Siobhan Benita, who is standing for the Lib Dems, said that London is a ‘liberal city’ which she wants to transform into a ‘Liberal Democrat city’. She highlighted tackling violent crime as her first priority.
- Independent candidate Rory Stewart conceded that the audience of the conference is more knowledgeable about the issues facing London than he is, saying that he intends to walk all 32 boroughs to learn from Londoners.
As part of a wider, ongoing organisational transformation programme led by Mary Harpley, the GLA’s Chief Officer, City Hall will be undergoing a number of changes in the coming months. The Directorates for Housing & Land, Resources, and the Assembly Secretariat will see their functions remain largely intact and their Executive Directors will stay in post. However, the existing Directorate for Communities & Intelligence is to morph into a new Directorate for Communities & Skills; the current Directorate for Development, Enterprise & Environment will give way to Good Growth; and an all-new Directorate of Strategy & Communications is to be created (albeit on a fixed-term basis of 18 months). Four new Executive Directors have now been appointed to lead this newer set of departments – all to begin in their new roles this coming January:
- Philip Graham, currently National Infrastructure Commission Chief Executive, has been appointed as Executive Director, Good Growth.
- Sarah Mulley, who is currently interim GLA Executive Director for Communities & Intelligence at the GLA, has been appointed to the post of Executive Director, Communities & Skills, undertaking this role on a job share basis.
- Mulley will be sharing responsibilities with Halima Khan, currently Executive Director at Nesta, who has been appointed co-Executive Director, Communities & Skills
- Niran Mothada, currently Head of Fiscal Strategy and Strategic Design at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, has been appointed to the post of Executive Director, Strategy & Communications.
OTHER PEOPLE MOVES
- Sir Lindsay Hoyle, MP for Chorley, was elected Speaker of the House on 4 November, replacing John Bercow who held the position for a decade. Some readers may have wondered why the old Parliament selected a new Speaker just before the General Election, but convention – which is expected to be followed by the parties – dictates that he will run unopposed in his constituency and will continue as Speaker in the next Parliament.
- Croydon Health Services Trust and the Croydon clinical commissioning group (CCG) have made three joint executive appointments. Mike Sexton has been appointed chief financial officer, Lee McPhail will be the chief operating officer and Josh Potter will take on the role of joint director of strategy of strategy and transformation.
- Chair of CBRE UK Stephen Hubbard has announced his retirement. He will be replaced by Michael Brodtman from 1 January 2020.
The RMT union has confirmed that 27 days of strikes will go ahead on South Western Railway throughout December, including Christmas eve, as their dispute over guards on trains endures – promising some very challenging journeys for travellers over the holiday period. Meanwhile, Unite has announced that employees in Transport for London’s control centre have voted in favour of taking industrial action in a dispute over pay and annual leave. No dates for these strikes have yet been set
FROGMORE NOTTING HILL CONSENT
LCA were delighted to be in attendance at the RBKC Planning Committee on Wednesday night, to see our client Frogmore secure planning permission for their hotel scheme on Notting Hill Gate. Designed by Squire and Partners, the boutique-style hotel will provide 173 rooms as well as a new restaurant or commercial space at ground floor level. This is the latest step in Frogmore’s journey to reinvigorate Notting Hill Gate - following previous planning approval for three other sites in 2016, two of which were pre-let to occupiers and together will deliver 100,000 sq ft of new and refurbished office space.
LCA prides itself on its intelligence-led approach to PR and communications and our dedicated research team monitors London politics, news and issues as it happens. If you would like to know more about LCA or anything in this edition of LDN – London in short please get in touch.
LDN is put together by a dedicated team at London Communications Agency. The content for each edition is developed from news drawn from the last week from every London local paper as well as the regional and national press, from intelligence gathered by monitoring local, regional and national government activity and from the insight and expert knowledge of the entire LCA team.
If you would like to know more about anything covered in this or any other edition of LDN or if you would like to know more about LCA please contact Duncan Hepburn on 020 7612 8480 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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