Labour candidate promises to be most ‘pro business’ mayor ever and has grand ambitions of over taking New York and Silicon Valley
Labour candidate Sadiq Khan is promising to make London a world leading tech hub if he wins the race to be the capital’s Mayor, pledging that technology will stand alongside finance as the “heartbeat” of the capital.
He promised to address skill, infrastructure and business issues that stand in the way of that ambition and would use open data and technology to boost the efficiency of London’s authorities and police.
“Our competition is global,” he said at DebateTech earlier this year. “Around the world, cities and regions are establishing themselves as tech hubs. I’ll establish a review to look into what we need to make London number one for digital. I don’t want London to be held back. I want to over take New York and Silicon Valley.”
“We are at risk of killing the goose that laid the golden egg,” he added, noting that as areas like Tech City become more popular, office space and housing was becoming too difficult or expensive tor startups to work in the area.
Khan said he would be the capital’s most “pro-business” mayor yet, promising to help companies with issues such as business space, red tape, housing and a skills shortage – particularly with regards to further education, coding and STEM subjects.
“We need to train up Londoners with the skills for tomorrow,” he said, claiming that 18 percent of Londoners had no digital skills.
In his manifesto, Khan detailed a ‘digital skills pipeline’ that would foster these skills, promising to work communities and schools, while offering more apprenticeships. Broadband and mobile notspots would be tackled by giving providers access to public sector infrastructure.
He would also continue to promote the industry abroad, admitting that incumbent Boris Johnson had performed a good job in that particular aspect of the role.
“Boris Johnson deserves credit for being a great ambassador for London,” said Khan.
The MP for Tooting has plans for a chief digital officer (CDO) that would oversee the growth of the sector, lead on cyber security and tackle digital inclusion. An open data strategy would bring information from all boroughs to help City Hall make better, faster decisions, deliver better services, improve transparency and create a more efficient local government.
Police would be able to access data and file reports from mobile devices so they spend less time in the office and more time on the streets and citizens would be able to follow the progress of their investigation through an online portal. Additionally, officers would be equipped with body cameras in a bid to increase trust in the Met.
In terms of wider issues that might affect London’s tech community, Khan is an opponent of a proposed new runway at Heathrow and favours expansion at Gatwick. He also thinks London’s tech community is better off with the UK as a member of the European Union.
He also pledged to make it easier for tech firms to get work visas for prospective employees outside the EU, whose skills could benefit the sector. “I know my FTTP from my HTTP,” he declared. “[I can be] a mayor for tech, a mayor for all Londoners.”