Over the last week, people and organisations have been declaring themselves and their position on the invasion of Ukraine (see below) and the team at LCA is no different.
We are shaken as individuals of course – by violence, by bullying, by the needless suffering of others – but we are also shaken as an employer and business.
We are shaken because we want to help and feel powerless and we recognise that our team feels this way too.
We have been so proud to see and support their efforts to support the Ukrainians via community centre the Polish White Eagle Club and have made our own contributions as a company to the British Red Cross emergency appeal and the Kyiv Independent (an English language Ukrainian newspaper, see their Patreon and GoFundMe pages).
We take seriously the values by which we have always run this business, namely integrity, intelligence and consideration for others and we do not believe that, in our work for our clients, we are acting either directly or indirectly in the interests of the Russian Government or any individuals or organisations linked to the Kremlin.
We are carefully reviewing this so that we can be certain and welcome the PRCA’s directive that all members must sever ties with Russian organisations on the sanctions list or face expulsion.
We could have easily written a whole edition on the impact of the war, but we will for the moment leave that to the experts and brave reporters in the field – focusing below on what it all means for London and how Londoners can help.
Closer to our usual topics, there’s yet further grim news for TfL, albeit with some funds now to… June 2022; the Planning Bill is dead – “Long Live the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill”; DCMS puts the Arts Council on notice to see more grant invested outside the capital; the population of London may not have declined as some, including us, thought was the case; and long standing and much respected Steve Curran, Labour Leader of Hounslow announces he is standing down in May.
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1,500 MILES NEAR
There are tens of thousands of Ukrainians (and indeed, Russians) living in our city, worried sick for family and friends caught up in a deadly conflict more than 1,500 miles away. London media including Evening Standard, Londonist, and Time Out have extensively featured the mobilisation of Londoners, community groups, and local authorities, variously expressing solidarity with those impacted by the war, calling for peace, and collecting both cash and material support for Ukraine (the Mayor and others suggest cash is the best way to help at the moment). The Government has, somewhat reluctantly, expanded opportunities for Ukrainians displaced by the conflict to take refuge in the UK – and many, perhaps even most, are likely to come to London at least in the first instance.
There are of course also various initiatives designed to create a decidedly hostile environment for Russian citizens and organisations linked to the Kremlin. Authorities in Whitehall are ratcheting up sanctions on Russia and now also Belarus. The Mayor of London has demanded even more stringent measures, including the seizure of Russian ‘oligarchs’’ assets as well as other measures, including raising taxes on overseas owners more generally - increasing the council tax ‘empty homes premium’, raising capital gains tax on overseas buyers from 28% to 40%, and increasing the the Annual Tax on Enveloped Dwellings. This has all already had some affect, with Roman Abramovich reportedly seeking to liquidate a ‘£200m London property portfolio’ and potentially even sell Chelsea F.C. He is not alone, judging by reports of nervousness among other Russian investors in the City, as well as in ‘ultra-prime’ real estate in London and further afield. It’s fair to say that London’s wider built environment sector finds itself in an awkward position, as illustrated by coverage in Property Week and Building. Elsewhere, the sector has been less reticent, with the organisers of the flagship MIPIM conference in Cannes effectively ‘cancelling’ all Russian exhibitors from the event later this month.
WHITE SMOKE FOR TFL?
On 25 February, Transport for London and the Government reached a long-awaited agreement on funding for the capital’s transport system – well, sort of. Following two short, week-long extensions of the previous funding agreement, a new funding package, centred on a grant of £200m has been agreed, and this time it lasts a full four months, expiring on 24 June. This new deal, the fourth to be agreed since the beginning of the pandemic, naturally has strings attached. To wit, TfL must, by the end of this month, come up with a new plan ‘demonstrating the options that exist’ to achieve ‘up to £400m of additional revenue or cost savings in 2022/23’ , on top of previously agreed savings in 2021/22. TfL must also make progress ‘’consulting on measures it has identified to raise new revenue from 2023 and and ‘in moving the Pension Fund into a financially sustainable position’. This last point could prove to be the most contentious as just this week we have seen two network-wide, 24-hour strikes by trade union members opposed to the pensions review, causing widespread disruption across the capital. Separately, TfL is also having trouble finding a new sponsor for the Emirates Air Line cable car in East London. It’s current £3.6m a year sponsorship deal, struck in 2012, is about to run out.
Back to TfL’s funding deal, it is notable that the agreement focuses on operating costs, which is to say keeping trains, buses and other services running – and does not cover the costs of new infrastructure. However, the Government has committed to working towards a separate deal for vital, long-term capital support, with the intention of agreeing this before the beginning of the new financial year. We won’t be holding our breath on that deadline.
LONDON PLANNING ROUNDUP
The Southwark Plan has been approved by councillors. Covering the period all the way to 2036, the plan outlines how the Council will ‘create new jobs for local residents and tackle the Climate Emergency’. Several other councils are meanwhile reviewing their Local Plans, notably including – in central London – Wandsworth and RBKC.
Westminster’s Cabinet Member for Business, Licensing and Planning Cllr Matthew Green has provided an update on the council’s Vision For Soho, saying that a ‘substantial amount’ of feedback means that more time is needed to ‘both develop the final proposed designs and to deliver a final consultation process’.
Ealing Council has granted planning permission to Laverne Holdings for the delivery of 288 flats in Greenford. The Kellogg Tower will be demolished to make way for the homes, 33% of which will be affordable, as well as commercial and community space.
Lambeth Council has announced that London Square will be the local authority’s development partner for the Growing Brixton Rec Quarter project.
Campaigners opposing the Holocaust Memorial next to the Houses of Parliament have had their case heard at the High Court. The London Historic Parks and Gardens Trust’s challenge is based on the Government’s perceived failure to consult on alternative locations for the Memorial, as well as the proposed structure’s impact on the park’s existing Buxton Memorial – while others, including the Learning from the Righteous charity, spoke in favour of the plans.
Hounslow Council’s long standing Labour leader Cllr Steve Curran has announced that he will not be standing for election in May ‘due to illness’.
Separately, local media report that Hounslow’s Cabinet Member for Transport Cllr Hanif Khan and Mayor of Hounslow Cllr Bishnu Gurung have not been reselected to stand in their current wards in May.
Susmita Sen has been appointed as Corporate Director of Housing at Croydon Council.
Nicola Jones, Senior Project Manager at Gleeds, has been appointed as the Chair of Women in Property.
Steven Mason has been appointed as Executive Director at Gleeds.
Perhaps taking advantage of the nation’s focus on Ukraine… Housing Secretary Michael Gove has reportedly (more here) admitted that the Planning Bill is indeed dead and that ‘more limited changes to planning rules’ will be appended to a wider Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill, to be revealed in May. He’s also reportedly signalled that another long-standing project under his purview, the Oxford-Cambridge Arc, has been ‘shelved’. Separately, despite having recently deployed amendments to the Building Safety Bill to force developers’ cooperation in funding the remediation of fire safety defects, ‘counter proposals’ submitted by the Home Builders Federation (HBF) have left Gove dissatisfied. Meanwhile, the ongoing Grenfell Inquiry has produced yet more revelations (more here) about how successive Governments seemingly ignored evidence that the fire safety regime was itself problematic. Even before these latest revelations, ITV last week aired profusely apologetic comments by Gove in its latest report on the poor conditions faced by many social housing tenants.
LONDON CULTURED ENOUGH?
The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has clarified how funding for arts and culture will align with the Levelling Up agenda. In tune with the relevant white paper released by DLUHC last month, DCMS is seeking to distribute more funds to places that have been previously ‘overlooked or neglected’, improving access to jobs in the arts as well as cultural activities in these areas. As with that white paper, the details make for somewhat uncomfortable reading for the capital. They state that the Government funding, distributed through Arts Council England (ACE) will support cultural organisations based in the capital ‘wishing to expand or become established in other parts of England’, while it is also explicitly stated that ACE will ‘seek to ensure its funds are more evenly distributed across the capital’s boroughs’. The announcement also states however that the majority of the soon-to-be-announced recipients of £48m from the Cultural Investment Fund will be outside London.
LONDON STATS, STAT
Recently published research by the GLA’s City Intelligence Unit brings us back to the perennial debate about London’s population. Despite scare stories about an ‘exodus’ of Londoners, an update about changes in London’s population since the start of Covid-19 concludes that the city’s population ‘has likely resumed growing, albeit at a slower rate than it had been before the pandemic’. Nevertheless, we have yet to see the results of the 2021 Census, on the basis of which the GLA and others will be able to produce more a reliable assessment. The GLA Economics team has meanwhile updated its ‘macroeconomic scenarios for London’, which bear signs of increased concern about the rising cost of living and the longer-term impact of shocks like the war in Ukraine. Separately, if this is the kind of thing that makes your heart beat a bit faster, then we recommend signing up to attend the launch of new research on inequality and poverty in central London by WPI Economics, commissioned by Central London Forward, on 16 March. Also, later this month, the Centre for London will be hosting East X South East: What’s next for London’s fastest growing sub-region? on 22 March.
In place of our usual shameless self-advertisement, we have today collected a list of organisations taking donations to support people in Ukraine.
- Sunflower for Peace provides first-aid backpacks to doctors and paramedics on the front line. Donate here.
- Voices of Children is a charity that focuses on helping children recover from the psychological trauma of war. More info here.
- The UNHCR has launched an emergency appeal to help ensure those fleeing their homes are sheltered and safe. Donate here.
- Defend Ukraine is raising money for military, medical and humanitarian aid. Donate here.
- The Kyiv Independent is a Ukraine-based English-language newspaper. Help keep accurate news reports coming by donating to The Kyiv Independent’s Patreon and GoFundMe pages.
- Together Rising is a charitable organisation looking to help meet the most urgent needs on the ground right now. Donate here.
- UNICEF have an active appeal to help children and families on the ground. Donate here.
- Nova Ukraine offers humanitarian aid to those affected. Donate here.
- United Help Ukraine offers humanitarian aid and provides medical supplies. Donate here.
You can also demonstrate your support by:
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LDN is put together by a dedicated team at London Communications Agency. The content for each edition is developed from news drawn from the last week from every London local paper as well as the regional and national press, from intelligence gathered by monitoring local, regional and national government activity and from the insight and expert knowledge of the entire LCA team.
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