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MIPIM o’clock: What are the major challenges?

It’s that time of the year when the sound of furious networking floats across the French Riviera.

Yes, it’s MIPIM o’clock.

While we’re swanning around Cannes (it’s impossible to convince anyone who doesn’t go that you aren’t swanning), London First will be fighting to make sure the capital’s mammoth infrastructure challenges aren’t forgotten and/or ignored by policymakers.

The headline act at our event is Sir Edward Lister, the mayor’s chief of staff and deputy mayor for policy and planning.

But before I give Sir Ed a chance to stand up and say his piece, I will be laying down three challenges - not just to him, but to the Greater London Authority, as it enters the final year of Boris’s reign.

Digital challenges

The first of those challenges is around digital infrastructure.

We need to fix the digital ‘not spots’ in central London as quickly as possible to make sure we are truly internationally competitive in this space.

“The GLA’s 2050 investment plan is excellent, but now it needs to be transformed into a properly prioritised and integrated programme”

Then there’s the more traditional infrastructure to think about.

The GLA’s 2050 investment plan is excellent, but now it needs to be transformed into a properly prioritised and integrated programme, based on the best bang for our buck in terms of economic growth.

Just to complicate things, this all needs to be done in consultation with business and national government.

Oh, and it would be ever-so-helpful if the GLA’s assumption about where the next runway will be could tie in with whatever the next government is actually planning.

That is, of course, on the assumption they are planning anything at all – the lack of action is causing real concern among the business community.

Continued housing dialogue

Last, but by no means least, I’ll remind him – as if he needs reminding – that we have to build a lot more homes in London.

The administration has repeatedly revised up the housing target – from 40,000 a year in the mayor’s 2020 vision, to 42,000 in his housing strategy, and up to 49,000 in the infrastructure plan.

Higher targets are great, as are the recent bevy of interventions, including the very well-received housing zones initiative.

“Higher targets are great… But the number of actual completions sits stubbornly around the 20,000 mark”

But the number of actual completions sits stubbornly around the 20,000 mark.

“With the experience of office, Sir Ed, what does the next Mayor need to do for a step change in delivery?” I shall ask (and report back to you).

On top of all this, London First will be hammering home the important role to be played by those who make up the next government.

Long-term funding of London’s transport, giving the mayor powers to tackle the housing shortage and skills issues in the capital, as well as our role as a member of a reformed EU, are amongst our asks.

All of which will leave very little time for the aforementioned swanning around, sadly.

Baroness Jo Valentine is chief executive of London First

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