London mayoral candidate Sadiq Khan will today call on Westminster to devolve more powers relating to Tech City to the mayor’s office, as he looks to put the UK capital on a par with San Francisco.
“Tech City” is the name given to an area around Old Street Roundabout in Shoreditch, East London, which is home to the majority of the capital’s startups.
“It’s high time London took over more responsibility for Tech City from the tired control of Whitehall,” Khan will say during a visit to Tech City today.
“London has made a great fist of carving out a leading position as a centre of tech but there’s much more to do to ensure we build on this success,” he will add. “As mayor, I won’t be satisfied just sustaining our position as the tech capital of Europe — I have global ambitions and want our tech sector to be on a par with New York and San Francisco.
“But we can only do this if we tackle head on the things which are holding us back. As mayor, I’d use my powers and directly intervene to protect the dwindling workspaces and startup locations for tech and creative companies across London. I’d also ensure that the next generation of tech talent is coming from the classroom’s of London’s schools and colleges.”
Khan, who claims he will be the most pro-business London mayor ever, will also pledge to tackle the “chronic failure” of superfast broadband in London. At present, London average broadband speeds are slower than the European average and among the worst in the country, according to Khan.
Khan will pledge to use planning powers to ensure there is an ongoing commitment to investing in digital connectivity infrastructure. He will also commit to launch an urgent review into why London is failing in the provision of next generation superfast broadband, holding to account central government and the private companies responsible for the infrastructure, as well as outlining urgent solutions to the problem.
However, local tech entrepreneur Rodolfo Rosini said Tech City issues are irrelevant if City Hall fails to address housing and transportation issues.
And Eileen Burbidge, the chair of Tech City UK, released this statement about Khan’s comments:
London plays a central role in the UK’s digital economy and it’s encouraging to hear that it will remain a priority for the new Mayoral candidates. It is absolutely necessary that London continues to attract and develop digital skills and businesses and build on the incredible momentum that’s been growing over the past five years. We very much look forward to maintaining our strong partnership with London and its new Mayor, as well as all the other cities and regions across the UK.
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