CITYMATTERS.LONDON 12 May - 15 June 2021 | Page 3 NEWS subscribe to our newsletter at citymatters.london Former Shadow Chancellor hails the Square Mile for its innovation “Focus is on the future and how we build back better” LIFE in the City of London has been very different to usual over the past 12 months, for all of us, writes City of London Corporation Policy Chair, Catherine McGuinness. As our economy starts to emerge from lockdown, now is the time to focus on the future and how we can build back better. The City has always adapted throughout its history and we are committed to remaining the vital business centre of the UK and a world-leading hub for businesses, workers, residents and visitors after the Covid-19 pandemic. The publication last week of an action plan by the City of London Corporation’s Recovery Taskforce sets out how we can do this. This Taskforce’s vision is for the City to be the world’s most innovative, inclusive and sustainable centre by adapting to post-pandemic economic and social trends. The Taskforce, commissioned in November last year, has been listening to stakeholders across the City to find out how the pandemic has impacted their ways of working and how demands on urban centres have changed. At the heart of this plan are a series of detailed actions to be taken in the next five years, which will enhance the City’s competitiveness and attractiveness, focusing on three key dimensions of the Square Mile’s offer: its world class business ecosystem, its vibrant cultural offer and outstanding environments. Firstly, we will foster an innovative ecosystem for businesses and talent, particularly of high-potential tech-led businesses. We will advise and introduce smaller businesses to City networks to help them establish and grow and will work with technology sectors, not traditionally located in the Square Mile, to help them access this ecosystem. We will also need to ensure that the City is a global testbed for data-driven technologies, facilitating data-sharing that can be used by data-driven businesses to test solutions. Secondly, we need to ensure a vibrant offer that engages residents, workers, visitors, and learners and in turn allows the City’s cultural and creative industries to thrive. This may include low-cost, long-term lets for creatives in empty and low-use spaces. A bold programme of major events would also animate the Square Mile’s weekend and night-time offer and may include traffic-free Saturdays or Sundays in the summer, or an all-night cultural celebration to promote diversity and belonging. Finally, we must deliver outstanding environments which support people and businesses with sustainable buildings, high quality streets and public spaces. By working with the property industry, we will enable and promote sustainable, flexible and adaptable buildings and explore new ways to use vacant space. The Recovery Taskforce’s report represents the latest chapter in a story of more than eight hundred years of innovation and evolution. As we move forward, there will be changes but there will also be continuity. The City of London has been a world leading ecosystem for centuries and we are convinced that it can offer even better opportunities for residents, businesses, workers, and visitors in the future. ED BALLS, the former Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer, has praised the City of London for its “adaptability and a strength of innovation”. Speaking during his virtual Freedom of the City of London ceremony, Mr Balls told the Chamberlain of London, Dr Peter Kane, and Lord Mayor William Russell, that in recent years, some people had misguidedly suggested that “financial services had become too large a part of our economy.” However, he argued that “in a global world, you play to your strengths and this is one of Britain’s great strengths.” Concluding his acceptance speech, Mr Balls said that “the City will always want us to abide by the highest rules and standards and, consistent with that and that reputation and integrity, the City can go on and flourish in the future, and that’s what global Britain should allow.” Mr Balls was nominated for the City’s award by Lord Mayor William Russell and the City of London Corporation’s Policy Chair, Catherine McGuinness, in recognition of his outstanding contribution to public life. Following his departure from politics, Mr Balls, who served as MP for Morley and Outwood between 2005 and 2015, was appointed Research Fellow at Harvard Kennedy School and Professor of Political Economy at King’s College London. He has also presented documentaries on America and Europe, appeared on Strictly Come Dancing – for which he was nominated for a BAFTA – The Great Sport Relief Bake Off, Would I Lie to You? and in 2021 was the winner in BBC’s Celebrity Best Home Cook. Speaking during the ceremony, Mr Balls said: “It is a great honour to receive the Freedom of the City of London, and I will look forward to coming to Guildhall in due course to meet my nominators in person. “The City is a unique and special place – it is proud of its traditions, but it also embraces change.” Mr Balls’s ceremony was conducted by the Chamberlain of London, Dr Peter Kane, in his final Freedom ceremony before he retires later this month. The Freedom of the City of London, which is believed to have begun in 1237, was used to enable recipients to carry out their trade. Today, people are nominated for, or apply for, the Freedom, because it offers them a link with the historic City of London and one of its ancient traditions. The Freedom is also offered to individuals by the City of London Corporation to help celebrate a significant achievement, or to pay tribute to their outstanding contribution to London life or public life.
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