Friendly London

MQT on 2015-06-17
Session date: 
June 17, 2015
Question By: 
Victoria Borwick
GLA Conservatives
Asked Of: 
The Mayor


The Olympic legacy and our work towards making London an 'Age Friendly' city have strengthened our reputation as one of the world's friendliest cities. How can we utilise our reputation to bolster London's global influence?


Answer for Friendly London

Answer for Friendly London

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  Thank you very much, Victoria, and thank you for everything that you have done and continue to do to make London the friendliest city on earth and the most age-friendly.  It is the friendliest city on earth and we can prove that because we have more visitors to London than any city in the world with 18.82 million international visitors forecast for 2015, even more than there were last year, which is even more than there were the year before.  Thank you for what you are doing.

I certainly agree that London should be as age-friendly as possible and that is why we have so many wonderful measures in place, not least the 24-hour Freedom Pass, which some parties wanted to means-test before they were reduced to electoral oblivion.

Victoria Borwick AM MP:  Thank you, Mr Mayor.  The important point here is that, as you say, London is booming, particularly as a place for international business.  As a result of the Olympics, we saw that London could sell itself and it showed that London was the place to relocate to and headquarter in.  We have heard about Tech City and we heard earlier on about the volunteers and the other schemes that you are doing.  We are all very conscious that we are seeing an increasing demand for our services and infrastructure is inevitably constantly challenged.  Therefore, it is important in this Chamber not to forget the soft power that we have as London and our cultural attractions, our museums, our leadership in various fields - art design, technology - and the importance of attracting investment in our schools.

My role this morning, Mr Mayor, was to try to ask you to highlight what the interdependence and interconnectivity of all these things is in promoting London as a place to do business.

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  The idea of London as a friendly city to visit, a place where people of all generations come together, where we are welcoming to older people and where older people are treated well and with respect is crucial to our success as a destination for inward investment.  It is one of the reasons that we continue to thrive.  That is not to say there is not more work to be done.  One of the things we try to do through Team London is bring generations together with programmes to help kids to go and teach older people like me how to turn the television on and all that sort of thing - which we cannot do any more - how to use the internet, all that kind of stuff, all the tech that Jennette [Jennette Arnold OBE AM] was talking about.  This is something that is so brilliantly understood by the younger generation and the older generation are in danger of feeling excluded.  All the stuff we do with fêtes, with supporting street parties and all that sort of work is crucial.

Victoria Borwick AM MP:  Thank you.  A final question, Mr Mayor.  The important thing for you as the Mayor - and hopefully you will agree - is that we should encourage the companies that we directly influence, the ones we speak to and the ones obviously that are part of the GLA group to consider what we do as the interdependence and interrelationships of all the things we do.  In other words, it is not just the business; it is not just the step-free access.  The step-free access is not just for people in wheelchairs.  It is for people with suitcases, it is for tourists, it is for children and it is for prams.  Therefore, they should not consider accessibility and those physical things as merely nice to have, but they should be part of your business opportunity.

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  Absolutely.

Victoria Borwick AM MP:  We should not say, “We do not have to do that.  We are only doing that because it is nice to do because we have something to fulfil and tick some box”.  The point about London - and the fact that we do all live so close together - is the importance of making the most of the friendly city for all age groups as a way of attracting continued investment.

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  I absolutely agree.  One of the things that people do not often understand with sufficient clarity is that if you tackle some of the problems of the city you will disproportionately benefit the people who are worst affected.  If crime is overwhelmingly something that hits the poorest hardest and if you bring crime down, as we have London, it will be a benefit felt most of all by those who need it.  The same, by the way, is true for road accidents, which we talked about so much earlier on.  It is incredible if you look at the black and minority ethnic groups, who are far more likely to be injured in road accidents than other groups, and the same is true for people on lower incomes.  If you fight and if you bring down road accidents, as we have, and they have fallen across the board as they have been, we have actually been doing something for social justice in the city and for bringing the city together.  I totally support your approach.

Victoria Borwick AM MP:  Thank you very much indeed, Mr Mayor.  Thank you for your support.