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Old October 1st, 2006, 02:23 AM   #1
london lad
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Livingstone's plans for London

Quite an interesting article in the Observer about Ken& London. He seems confident Crossrail will getsigned off next year & he also mentins that a lot fo Russian& Chinese are eyeing up London. Hopefully they will have huge egos & demand HQ in tall towers

http://observer.guardian.co.uk/busin...884735,00.html

Ken's new plans for capital gains

Back in favour and brimming with confidence, the Mayor now has Mandarin lessons and an aviation tax high on his agenda, he tells Nick Mathiason

Sunday October 1, 2006
The Observer


The reptile has landed. London Mayor Ken Livingstone was praised three times by Bill Clinton during his address to the Labour faithful in Manchester last week, and cheered to the rafters by conference delegates. Earlier this summer he was given sweeping new powers over housing, planning, energy, skills, arts and sport. Livingstone has the satisfied air of a man who knows that the times have caught up with him.
His nasal twang is curiously statesmanlike. The acid barbs, though, are fresh and frequent. 'My broad approach is that 99 per cent of the time you can achieve what matters to London with reasoned argument and a bit of charm,' he said from his office at the top of City Hall. 'Occasionally you come across people that doesn't work with. The Reuben Brothers [property developers] or Veronica Wadley [editor of the London Evening Standard]. There are some people you have to be brutally direct to.'

This apparently no longer applies to Gordon Brown. After the 1997 election Livingstone declared that the Chancellor should be sacked for sticking to tight Conservative spending plans when Britain desperately needed investment. And they clashed bitterly over how to finance modernisation of the Tube.

Now things are sweetness and light, with Livingstone predicting that Brown will be the new Labour 'Caesar'. What thawed their relations? 'We showed that if you actually make an investment in London, you get a much better tax return on that than anywhere else.'

The economic case was one thing. It was delivering the congestion charge, cajoling the government to back a bid for the 2012 Olympic Games and increasing the number of affordable new homes that persuaded Brown to let Livingstone borrow £2.9bn for new transport infrastructure, the first time any local government leader has been allowed to do this. New investment is urgent because Livingstone has revised upwards the capital's projected population from 8.1 million in 2016 to 8.5 million in 2020. The last official figures put it at 7.5 million.

It is not just migration that will fuel population growth. London's birth rate is accelerating rapidly. But expansion, he argues, is sustainable. 'People don't believe me when I say this is the least densely populated big city in Europe. Greater Paris has the same population in half the space.'

What will fuel the economy, says Livingstone, is the financial services industry. Post-Enron corporate regulations mean that Russian companies are choosing London instead of Wall Street to raise money via flotations. 'Chinese firms are splitting 50-50 between us and New York. Clearly, the vast bulk of Indian investment is coming to London.'

A small but significant Latin American contingent could soon be joining the throng. It appears that Hugo Chavez's visit two months ago may result in the Venezuelan oil industry siting its European headquarters in London.

Livingstone attributes reliance on overseas businesses to the fact that the UK's economy is so small 'our financial services industry has to broaden its horizons'. But London as a global financial centre will propel the economy throughout the next century. 'All the emerging economies see London as the best place to do business. And if we can secure that position then we're set fair for another 100 years and not just getting me through to the next election.'

To appeal to Chinese investors, Livingstone has been talking to the Schools Minister Lord Adonis about offering primary school children lessons in Mandarin. 'To try and learn Mandarin when you're 12 or 13 is not easy. We need Mandarin-speaking teachers in our primary schools for kids of six or seven.' An experiment will involve flying in teachers from China. Londoners learning Mandarin, he says, will attract the 100 million Chinese people who by 2020 will be rich enough to visit the capital. But quite how this will tally with his next campaign - on aviation - is unclear.

The Mayor wants a tax on airline tickets included in Labour's next general election manifesto. He believes the electorate will vote for it amid authoritative predictions that the world's climate could be at a tipping point within five years. Livingstone says that other steep carbon emission cuts will be wiped out by the projected growth in aviation.

'In the same way we restricted people driving into central London, you restrict the growth of air travel by taxing it. The aviation industry has too strong an influence globally because the world got locked into an international treaty in 1948 which said it would be exempt from tax. That's ridiculous.'

He is not persuaded that a new run- way at Heathrow is vital to keep London's economy on track, and moves to end restrictions on night flights will be 'strongly opposed'.

The westerly expansion of the congestion charge will start in February. This will be followed by £1,000 fines on heavily polluting trucks, coaches, cabs and buses to improve air quality. 'Maybe by the Olympics we might look at cars. But so many people are going to [hybrid Toyota] Priuses and electric cars, and once the congestion charge is amended so Cherokee Jeeps are charged £25, that might happen a bit faster.'

Livingstone has told the government he is prepared to administer the installation of water meters to London households to conserve supplies. 'We could cope with double the projected growth in London if we had meters.' Likewise he wants Transport Secretary Douglas Alexander to let the capital pilot a national road pricing scheme.

Even the Olympics going over budget and past deadline isn't causing him sleepless nights. Budgets will come in at roughly the £2bn originally projected , he said, but extra cash needs to be found for laying the foundations of what will be a new town of 40,000 homes in the capital. 'For me getting the Olympics was about regenerating the Lower Lea Valley. The Olympics is the start. You get 5,000 or 6,000 homes [from it]. The government is now committed to building 35,000 to 40,000 homes throughout the Lower Lea, and you would be mad to put in the infrastructure for the Games and come back and dig it up, so now we're adding the infrastructure.'

Livingstone admits that Olympic site land values have doubled since the Games were won, adding £500m to acquisition costs.

He is confident that the Treasury will agree funds for a new rail line linking Heathrow with the Square Mile and Canary Wharf. The Crossrail train project is the subject of furious lobbying from business. Livingstone has said money will be signed off next summer, allowing construction workers finishing the Olympics to be transferred seamlessly to the building of new stations.
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Old October 1st, 2006, 11:53 AM   #2
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I think I love Ken.
Really interesting things there. I was thinking to myself about a post months ago that was a report about London's financial services industry and the geofinancial position as having access to both asian and american markets in the same day - and seeing as India and China are currently shifting quickly through the gears, that London really needs to take the bull by the horns on this one and I'm glad Ken seems awake to it. Manchester has actively done something to court this asian investment with its Science Park, it's about time that London did it too and I think Stratford would be a great place to do it.
London really is in a great position to start taking serious investment from accross the globe as the article points out, and taking Venezuela's business would be interesting as it shows that some countries which are politically sensitive to the USA want to keep their stocks away from Wall Street. London is for the time being the only serious alternative unless your based east of the Caspian.
And, time to heap more praise on Ken, I think it's obvious that the Government didn't want to let anyone take any control, mainly because they didn't trust anyone else with the power. Ken has always used whatever power he's had as much and as well as he can, he's proved to those in Whitehall that giving him a bit of what he wants won't end in catastrophe, and now he's proving it will actually be quite beneficial. I don't think Ken in reality is amazing, just that everyone else in local government around the country are non-entities.
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Old October 1st, 2006, 12:39 PM   #3
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He is one of the only politicians I would accept as a mentor....warts and all (other than Mo Mowlen or perhaps Tony Ben).
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Old October 1st, 2006, 03:44 PM   #4
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Well that's all lovely and as much as I agree he talks a lot of sense, there is no way the majority of Londoners will accept a Mayor that is constantly taxing them to the hilt. He'll win the next Mayoral election, but I doubt his successor will win the next.

I'd love to believe that voters will willingly accept aviation tax, SUV tax, the Olympic tax, water meters, and projected refuse tax, recycling tax, etc, just to do their bit for the environment, but in al honesty most people don't really care as long as they have money in their back pocket and are able to feed their family.

And I'm afraid Livingstone's green dreams may be over before they begin.

I hope not though. London has gone through immense change in the last six years and the seeds today are being sown for the next generation and I hope people try to understand this.

Last edited by DarJoLe; October 1st, 2006 at 03:58 PM.
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Old October 1st, 2006, 07:12 PM   #5
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The article is really good news:

- Crossrail is happening - Gordon Brown needs Livingstone.

- It seems he gets the money for the regeneration of the Lower Lee Valley, such that the Olympics bring something more than a gleaming Olympic park in the middle of a run-down area.

- Ken Livingstone seems to understand and appreciate the importance of the economy.

- Heathrow will get its third runway (If Livingstone says "he is not persuaded about it" instead of "he is strongly opposed ot it", this tells me a consensus is building around Gordon Brown to push it through).

- Water meters is a good idea, the UK is the only country in Europe which does not have water meters. I have never understood this very wasteful system in the UK.

OK the 4x4 congestion tax is populist and naf, but it does not really harm.


I was really impressed by the article and I opened up SSC to post the article here, which was not necessary anymore. To me Livingstone and Bloomberg are the most influential mayors at this moment of time and are in a league of their own.
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Old October 1st, 2006, 07:43 PM   #6
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The only thing i dont agree with in all that is the Aviation tax, and the idea of not building another runway at heathrow, but if that means crossrail will be built, then happy days
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Old October 2nd, 2006, 11:29 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Ntn_Rawlings View Post
The only thing i dont agree with in all that is the Aviation tax, and the idea of not building another runway at heathrow, but if that means crossrail will be built, then happy days
IMO aviation tax will come but no UK government would be so stupid to apply it unilaterally, so this is going to be an EU wide initiative. I think it can make an impact, particularly on traffic over shorter distances. At the same time, Heathrow will get its third runway and sixt terminal. If it would not get it, Ken would have said that he was opposed to it. By saying he is not persuaded about it, he does not lose face when it goes ahead. He is basically leaving the door open. The aviation industry is one of the last industries where the UK is a world leader and it would be a surprise if it gave up that position just because some stupid planning decision was made half a century ago. Heathrow is in the wrong location but we'll have to live with that.

Note the recent air pollution study commissioned by the government, which showed Heathrow is pretty much within EU norms. Also note that if Branson's plans for towing airplanes to starting grids is applied, it would cut emissions to that extent that Heathrow would fall well within the EU norms.
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Old October 2nd, 2006, 11:55 AM   #8
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He is the creature that Roy Porter dreamt could rescue London from her hopeless demise during the Thatcher years!
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Old October 2nd, 2006, 12:45 PM   #9
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Brilliant stuff. Great to hear about Crossrail most importantly.

Ken's definetely one of the best politicians around in my opinion and he gets things done. My only worry with giving him loads of new powers is if we get a tory mayor after him! But that's democracy I suppose.
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Old October 2nd, 2006, 01:12 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by JDRS View Post
Brilliant stuff. Great to hear about Crossrail most importantly.

Ken's definetely one of the best politicians around in my opinion and he gets things done. My only worry with giving him loads of new powers is if we get a tory mayor after him! But that's democracy I suppose.
If only the Tories had a candidate. Anyway, as long as mayors fight for the interests of their city and whilst doing so represent most of the population, their political colour does not matter. If Labour goes under, it does not mean Livingstone has to follow the rest of Labour. Livingstone is actually quite respected by business in London, more so than Tony Blair & Gordon Brown these days, both of whom have done relatively little for London in terms of public investment.
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Old October 3rd, 2006, 07:35 PM   #11
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On the subject of Crossrail there was a big advert in the ES on it today. It seems to have gathered more pace in recent weeks.
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Old October 6th, 2006, 02:16 PM   #12
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From Bloomberg news....

Excellent article... very promising about crossrail and I am also happy to see that Ken Livingstone recongnizes Thatcher has done good things for London.




London Needs Transport Overhaul, Chinese Investment, Mayor Says

By Brian Lysaght and Sara Walker

Oct. 5 (Bloomberg) -- London needs a 30-year overhaul of the rail system, less regulation and a surge in Asian investment to ensure its economic future, Mayor Ken Livingstone said.

``There really are 30 years of transport investment to keep running ahead of the growth in population,'' Livingstone said in an Oct. 3 interview at City Hall. ``We are all breeding like rabbits and you have to build the trains.''

Livingstone, 61, has been at the center of London politics since the 1980s as council leader, member of parliament and mayor. He has expanded the police force, introduced a charge on drivers entering the city center and overseen plans for the 2012 Olympics that London will host after beating bids from Paris and New York.

Wooing Chinese businesses and keeping financial regulations and taxes low will secure the city's economic future, said Livingstone, dubbed ``Red Ken'' by newspapers in the 1980s, when he led the city's legislative council. Margaret Thatcher, the then Conservative prime minister, abolished the council in 1986.

``We are a little less regulated than New York and less taxed than the rest of Europe,'' said Livingstone, who plans to run for a third four-year term in 2008. ``That gives us an advantage.''

The U.K. has taken steps to avoid the stricter U.S. accounting rules of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and has lighter penalties on directors than some countries, lowering listing costs. That has prompted a growing number of companies to list on London's stock exchanges instead of those of Europe and the U.S.

Praise for Thatcher

Livingstone, a self-described socialist and member of Prime Minister Tony Blair's Labour Party, said Thatcher's decision to open the U.K.'s financial-services industry to foreign competition helped transform London from an insular British capital to international city.

``Mrs. Thatcher deregulated it, and all those American and Japanese banks moved in, and the old boys network had been smashed within a decade,'' he said.

Livingstone said he will ``bust a gut'' to see that Gordon Brown, currently Chancellor of the Exchequer, succeeds Blair as prime minister. Blair has said he plans to step down as party leader next year.

Livingstone had been at odds with Brown over the chancellor's private-funding plan for the London Underground, which sold 30-year maintenance rights to companies such as Metronet Rail.

Growing Population

London has added 1 million residents in 20 years to reach a population of 7.5 million and is forecast to gain another 800,000 by 2016, helped by immigration as well as rising birth rates.

The city's economy will expand 3.4 percent in 2006, more than the 2.9 percent a year earlier, led by expansion in the financial-services industry, according to the Centre for Economics and Business Research.

Livingstone visited China this year in an effort to attract businesses and will travel to India next year to do the same, he said. ``If China locks in to seeing this as the place to do business in Europe, then London's economy is secured for a century.''

Improving the transport system may be the biggest hurdle to future growth. The city is investing 10 billion pounds ($19 billion) over five years in roads, buses and trains after what Livingstone called ``decades'' of government neglect.

The biggest challenge to London's economy is a lack of transportation capacity and a shortage of housing, according to a report last year by Oxford Economic Forecasting for the City of London. The City is the world's second-largest financial center after New York.

London Underground

The 143-year-old London Underground carries three million passengers a day and is straining to keep up with demand. Livingstone, who championed fare reductions in the 1980s, has introduced three consecutive above-inflation fare increases and says more will follow.

``We have pushed fares to the limit,'' he said. The cheapest London Underground cash ticket will rise by a third to 4 pounds next year. The fares are the highest in the world, according to a June report by Mercer Consulting.

London was ranked the fifth-most expensive city in the survey, after Moscow, Seoul, Tokyo and Hong Kong.

Livingstone said London is ``close'' to a funding agreement with Blair's government for Crossrail, a 10 billion-pound railway that would increase the city's rail capacity by 20 percent and connect the West End and the financial district with Heathrow, Europe's busiest Airport which lies west of London.

``Without Crossrail we would have to start turning down applications for new office construction in London,'' he said.

Crossrail's Future

After Crossrail, which would become operational in about 2016, the city's suburban rail system would be expanded through 2025, Livingstone said.

The mayor, who introduced an 8-pound congestion charge on cars entering the city center, plans to boost the fee for cars with bigger engines. He favors other ``green taxes'' such as a broader system of charging motorists to use roads and a surcharge of up to 15 pounds on every airline ticket.

Such taxes would help to reduce pollution as well as generating cash for infrastructure investment, he said.

``We are at a limit as to what we can invest without additional revenue streams,'' he said. ``The best companies'' are adopting carbon-neutral pollution-reduction policies, he said.

London expects extra business of 6 billion pounds ($11.31 billion) from the 2012 Olympics, and the ``incalculable'' value of having the city the focus of world media attention, he said. London is spending about 2 billion pounds on stadiums and athletic sites for the competition, which it last hosted in 1948.

London Assembly

London assembly members such as leader Brian Coleman have warned that the project could run over-budget because it's so large and complex. The 2004 Olympics in Athens were the most costly ever because of construction delays.

``I don't think there are going to be any cost overruns on the Olympics,'' Livingstone said. ``We have got to get this right.''

If the Olympics are a success, ``people like yourself will be saying the games have come to the world's leading city,'' he said. ``We are still in a position where we are advancing rather than retreating. Most of the great world cities, particularly in the west, are actually retreating.''

If the transport, housing and Olympic projects don't work, ``I will crawl away under a stone,'' he said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Brian Lysaght in London at [email protected]

Last Updated: October 5, 2006 05:25 EDT
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Old August 26th, 2007, 03:18 AM   #13
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I'm normally in agreement with Red Ken's plans but this flight tax thing ehhhhh....

There usually isn't a reasonable alternative mode of transport for a majority of destinations reached by plane from London. Plus, being on an island flights are often the only option.

If this flight tax does become reality I hope that the revenues collected will be invested in developing more efficient fuels for overseas travel, along with other modes of transport for the more closer and popular destinations travelled to by Londoners.

A ferry from Canary Wharf to Amsterdam would be cool.
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Old August 26th, 2007, 03:31 AM   #14
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or you could just take the train...
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Old August 26th, 2007, 08:51 AM   #15
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If you wanted to go to Paris or Brussels it's cheaper and faster to do it by the Chunnel than going by plane. You've seen the news I'm sure of how BA might be fined for false advertising the reverse.
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Old August 26th, 2007, 10:15 AM   #16
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Yes....as usual Ken is taking a lead role in doing the right thing!

Whether you like it ir not...its the right thing to do and to do it knowing its gonna f..k alot of people off...thats real leadership
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Old August 26th, 2007, 04:29 PM   #17
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Whether you like it ir not...its the right thing to do and to do it knowing its gonna f..k alot of people off...thats real leadership
******* people off does not win your elections.

Quite interesting it's nearly a year since this original article appeared.

The only way Ken will win the next Mayoral elections is if Boris goes forward as a candidate, if he doesn't, the Conservatives will win. Ken has burnt too many bridges with Londoners.
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Old August 26th, 2007, 04:40 PM   #18
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^ Precisely...its that or not live up to your own principles...regardless of election results...honour your beliefs
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Old August 26th, 2007, 05:12 PM   #19
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^ Precisely...its that or not live up to your own principles...regardless of election results...honour your beliefs
Well, exactly that! Promote a one-sided aviation tax (which therefore does not really do anything for the climate but would damage the UK's aviation industry - if one is really serious about curbing aviation and at the same time cares about the UK aviation industry, one should introduce such tax on a European level) and oppose a third runway at Heathrow, but then give green light to the expansion of an airport which is increasingly in the midst of a dense urban area, the London City Airport.

I am not arguing he is a bad mayor, but am also not worshipping him. Maybe I'll do that when he delivers us Crossrail and gets his 100 squares programme completed.
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Old August 26th, 2007, 11:30 PM   #20
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The only way Ken will win the next Mayoral elections is if Boris goes forward as a candidate, if he doesn't, the Conservatives will win. Ken has burnt too many bridges with Londoners.
Are you for real?? The conservertives haven't get a hope in hell - they haven't even convinced Londoners that they believe in the mayoralty...that would be a start. Ken is a-political now - conservatives would need find someone who actually cares to have any chance....
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