Political Update – January 2024

Thursday 1 February 2024: London Mayoral Candidate Susan Hall visits Heart of London.

Heart of London hosted a visit from Susan Hall, Conservative Mayoral candidate for London and current Greater London Assembly Member, to discuss key issues in the West End, including how to tackle crime, rough-sleeping and transport infrastructure.

One of Hall’s central commitments is the enhancement of public safety, particularly in light of her role as the Deputy Chair of the GLA Crime Committee. She has announced plans to give the Met Police an extra £200 million to “make criminals fear the police again”.

Recognising that crime is a high priority issue for our members, Heart of London set out the impact that it has on footfall in the West End, and discussed the need for increased CCTV and a greater police presence, as well as the role that My Local Bobby plays in creating a safe environment in the area.

Beyond crime, Hall has emphasised her commitment to promoting London as a 24-hour city, with a focus on supporting its cultural offerings. Heart of London shared insights into its evening and night-time economy strategy during the meeting, including the vision for a dynamic and thriving city during all hours.

A notable point of discussion revolved around tax-free shopping for international visitors, a cause championed by Heart of London, Susan Hall, and other stakeholders. The collective plea urges the government to reintroduce this initiative, with hopes that it will be addressed in the upcoming Budget on March 6.

Heart of London will continue to engage with decision-makers at the local, regional, and national levels across the political spectrum, advocating for the policy priorities of its members.

Political Activity  

Other political activity of note from the past month include:

  • Hosted a focus group with Westminster City Council, allowing members and stakeholders to provide feedback on the Westminster After Dark strategy, particularly on safety, community, economic growth, and accessibility.
  • Met with Stephen Kinnock MP, Shadow Immigration Minister, exploring strategies to bridge the skills gap in retail and hospitality, reform the visa framework, and improve the Migration Advisory Committee.
  • Joined a working group advocating for the reinstatement of tax-free shopping, co-ordinating media activities and political engagement ahead of the Budget on 6 March.
  • Invited Howard Dawber, the new Deputy Mayor for Business, to visit the West End and meet with members.
  • The Pedicabs Bill returned to the House of Lords for report stage on 30 January. We have briefed the Lords who have participated in the debate previously, and we have met with TfL to discuss how we and our members can best engage with the consultation process.
  • Attended a roundtable with parliamentarians in the House of Commons on ‘greening our cities: investing in sustainable urban spaces for a healthier tomorrow’, which provided the opportunity to preview our upcoming net-zero report.
  • The Prime Minister has said that it’s his “working assumption” that the General Election will be “in the second half of the year”, with reports that 14 November has been pencilled in as the chosen date.

Looking Ahead 

  • Launching a report on street clutter, which we co-sponsored. The report was published here at the end of last year.
  • Meeting with Paul Scully MP, former Minister for London, now co-chair of the APPG for London as a Global City, to discuss how we can best work with the APPG going forward.
  • Meeting with Crisis to discuss the criminalisation of rough sleeping in the West End.
  • Attending London and Partners’ e-sports summit to discuss how London can become the European capital of e-sports and video games.
  • Attending the first Women’s Night Safety Charter of 2024 to discuss our role in making London a city where all women feel confident and welcome at night.

If you have any questions or if you would like to discuss any of the above in further detail, please contact our Head of Public Affairs, Matt Panteli, on mattp@holba.london