In the next week, London will elect the mayor. The choice comes at uncertain times: the consequences of Brexit and the corona pandemic have so far been difficult to assess. A view of the city on the Thames.
Full outdoor areas in front of the pubs and hustle and bustle in the reopened shops – anyone looking to London might think that the city has already survived the worst. But this picture could be deceptive. For the nine million metropolis on the Thames, which will elect a new mayor on May 6, the consequences of Corona and Brexit may not yet be fully visible.
“If we are not careful, London will be exposed to a perfect storm from Brexit and this terrible Covid pandemic,” warns the incumbent Mayor Sadiq Khan of the Labor party, who is trying to get re-election, in an interview with the German press agency . The chances that he will get another term are good. The 50-year-old leads the polls miles ahead of Conservative challenger Shaun Bailey.
Sadiq Khan: The incumbent mayor has a good chance of being re-elected. (Source: Stefan Rousseau / dpa)
£ 13 billion less revenue
Last year, local government estimates put around £ 13 billion in stores, hotels and restaurants through the rags. That was how much tourists and commuters had spent the year before. The entertainment industry was particularly hard hit in the West End. Hope now rests on the fact that in view of the low number of infections and the fast vaccination rate, all restrictions can actually be lifted on June 21 as planned.
Soho on April 12th: When the hard lockdown ended after months, people streamed into the outdoor areas of the restaurant (archive image). (Source: Alberto Pezzali / AP / dpa)
In addition to the consequences of the pandemic, the important financial sector did not experience the great exodus it feared as a result of Brexit, but had to accept a noticeable outflow of companies and sub-areas. According to a new study by think tank New Financial, 400 companies moved activity and capital to the EU – and it may not have been the last.
“Jobs, Jobs, Jobs”
Khan’s concept against the crisis: “Jobs, Jobs, Jobs”. But it won’t be easy. No other region in the UK lost so many jobs. Nowhere else have so many people been released with the Furlough system, which is based on the German short-time work. Many are unlikely to return to their old jobs if government support stops. In a city where the average monthly rent for an apartment costs 2,200 euros.
Apartment buildings in front of skyscrapers: Not everywhere in London looks like Canary Wharf (archive picture). (Source: Reinhard Krause / Reuters)
Nearly a third of Londoners are estimated to live in relative poverty. The streets in inner city districts such as Kensington, Chelsea or Westminster, which are often used as film sets, are only a small part of this 1,500 square kilometer sea of brick and concrete houses. The glass facades of the skyscrapers in the city or the old port area of Canary Wharf are juxtaposed with concrete residential towers that are spread across the city. The people there live cheaper because it is often social housing, but also in an oppressive confinement.
Social housing in south London: It is cheaper to live here, but also much more cramped (archive picture). (Source: Neil Hall / Reuters)
Local transport suffers from declining ticket sales
The gigantic local transport network is also under pressure – the transport company TfL (Transport for London) is largely dependent on ticket sales. However, these collapsed by 90 percent in the pandemic. On the positive side, long-term problems such as knife crime and air pollution decreased. It is uncertain whether it will stay that way.
A 14-year-old boy died of stab wounds just last weekend. Two practically the same age are under suspicion. This year alone, almost a dozen people have been killed by knife wounds – all of them teenagers and young men. The background is often difficult to see through.
Khan’s challenger Bailey promises to bring more police to the streets. The incumbent, on the other hand, relies on a mixture of specialized forces, educational and sports offers for young people and a mentoring program.
Shaun Bailey: The Conservative is challenging incumbent Mayor Sadiq Khan in the upcoming elections. (Source: Alastair Grant / AP / dpa)
Bad air is still a big issue. The tragic death of a nine-year-old girl after an asthma attack was attributed, among other things, to air pollution in her place of residence.
But London wouldn’t be London if it didn’t keep its humor. A certain Count Binface also competes in the election. “Graf Garbage Can Face”, behind which a comedian hides, demands, for example, that a hand dryer be implemented in the men’s room of a pub in the suburb of Uxbridge.