Blog Post

November 2022’s policy round up

We enter winter this year in difficult circumstances, but November also saw some good news stories for London to celebrate. Our Chief Executive Nick Bowes breaks down the latest.

Piccadilly Circus

It’s been a frantic few weeks in the London Assembly. First, Sadiq Khan was summonsed over the departure of Cressida Dick as Met Commissioner, in what feels like the kind of classic political process story the average Londoner finds bemusing. Then, second, on a vote to amend the Mayor’s Transport Strategy to allow a proposed expansion of ULEZ London-wide.

And this stormy period doesn’t appear to be over – he has been summonsed yet again, and this time may appear in front of the Assembly at the same time as Cressida Dick. The Mayor has also now confirmed he will go ahead and expand ULEZ, which has sparked support from some, yet provoked much wrath from others. Expect this to rumble on.

While the Met Police continue to face a string of dreadful stories about the actions of some of their officers, the new Commissioner Mark Rowley is showing he’s not afraid to be open about the scale of the challenges he faces. Joining Scotland Yard in special measures is the London Fire Brigade, after a damning report on internal working culture. It seems that in at least two anchor institutions, outdated attitudes from the 1970s live on – the Mayor will be under growing pressure for real change in both.

Bond Street

In rather better news, the Elizabeth Line saw the final station at Bond St open, the two sections of the line connected together at Paddington and 70 million journeys recorded in the first six months. Warm words at a celebratory event from the latest Transport Secretary, Mark Harper, who remarked, “build it and they will come”. Bakerloo Line extension next then, anyone?


On the economy front, it’s hard to get away from the rather bleak news. As well as the gloomy predictions by the OBR and Bank of England for the economy in 2023, the Paris Stock Exchange also overtook London’s as Europe’s most valuable stock market, which passed with surprisingly little coverage yet felt like an ominous moment for the city. The latest FSB survey painted a similarly negative picture with a sharp fall in small business confidence in Q3. However, in contrasting news, London came out top in Europe on the tech rankings. Yet we still don’t really know what a Rishi Sunak government means for London.

St Pancras International

The ONS is slowly dribbling out the first slug of results from last year’s Census, and it’s already throwing up some interesting data on London. Two-fifths of the city were born abroad in the latest Census emphasising the international make up of London and by far the highest region in the country. Yet, the ONS’s attempt at a poverty profile based on the census data sees London score relatively well, yet rather bafflingly their measure doesn’t include any financial data at all. One would think London might come out rather differently if it did, and as a result the true scale of the problem is masked. Yet Trust for London remind us in their Poverty Profile that once housing costs are taken into consideration, the city has higher poverty than anywhere else in the country.

Covent Garden

Which leads nicely on to the subject of levelling up. Despite repeated reassurances that levelling up the rest of the country didn’t mean levelling down London, the latest Arts Council funding allocations did just that, leaving a number of major institutions up the swanny.

Mansion House

In the world of housing, the Guardian shone a light on the tensions around estate regeneration in London, albeit missing the rather important bind local authorities find themselves in which leaves them few other options to build new homes. Separate research mapped the human consequences of people displaced by estate regeneration. With the crisis of housing in London worsening further, it’s no wonder Centre for London is focusing on this as our next big project. In the same paper, the scale of overseas ownership of London property was exposed, particularly that bought up by Qatar. Turns out the Qataris might be a bit sensitive to criticisms of their human rights record.


And finally, the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee published their inquiry on Governing England in which their conclusion was – quelle surprise – we’re way too decentralised and the centre (whisper it) isn’t actually very good at governing. Could we finally see a loosening of Whitehall’s grip and see some proper meaningful devolution? I’m not holding my breath.

Nick Bowes is Chief Executive of Centre for London. Follow him on Twitter. Read more from him here.