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Mayor Of London 2016: Caroline Pidgeon – Tech Success Depends On Staying In EU

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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Caroline Pidgeon says leaving the EU would damage London as a tech hub as she makes immigration, skills and open data key pillars of mayoral bid

London’s potential as a major hub for technology is conditional on the UK remaining a member of the European Union (EU), according to the Liberal Democrat candidate Caroline Pidgeon.

In her manifesto, Pidgeon said London’s “continuing competitive advantage” was dependent on exploiting the potential of digital as a way of diversifying the economy away from finance.

If elected mayor on 5 May, Pidgeon said she would ensure the capital’s tech sector would have access to the funding and resources it needs to grow – including office space, affordable housing and better connectivity.

Keep London In the EU

EU Brexit referedum“I want London to be leading in technology and innovation,” she said at DebateTech earlier this year, outlining a vision of London as an open, international city.

The manifesto claims 60 percent of “top non-European companies” with a headquarters in Europe have located in London – citing Facebook and Google as two major examples– and that being outside the EU would damage the capital’s status.

“We have to maintain our membership of the European Union,” added Pidgeon, who also supports a ‘London Visa’ for non-EU skilled workers. “The EU guarantees a steady stream of businesses who want to be in London, The free movement of people within Europe is vital.

“We don’t want to be in a position where companies struggling to recruit the best international talent.

“In terms of visas and those issues, I’m an internationalist and pro-European. Any Mayor needs to lobby the government [to ensure talent can come].

“Keep London a European and international city.”

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A big data example

Pidgeon wants London to become an example for other cities in how to use big data to fuel economic growth and create better services. A Mayor’s Office of Data Analytics would collect information from all boroughs and encourage a common commitment to open data and innovation.

“I’ve long supported more open data cross the public sector in London,” said Pidgeon.

oxford street londonDigital inclusion strategies would ensure minorities, disabled and elderly people are not excluded, while Pidgeon also wants to tackle diversity within the IT sector.

“More flexible childcare is needing to tackle this issue and to tackle some stereotypes,” she said, adding that more apprenticeships would be created to ensure younger people can get into the industry.

These apprenticeships would complement other skills initiatives with schools and further education institutions to ensure there are enough qualified workers for tech companies looking to set up or move to the capital.

Aside from supporting London’s existing tech hubs, Pidgeon also supports the creation of a ‘Cleantech Cluster’ in West London that would create a new business district for new low-carbon industries in areas covered by the Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation (OPDC)

Voters in London go to the polls on 5 May to elect a new Mayor to replace the outgoing Boris Johnson and a new General London Assembly (GLA).

Quiz: What do you know about London and tech?