The contenders to become London’s next mayor have committed themselves to supporting and nurturing the capital’s tech and IT sectors.
On Tuesday Sadiq Khan (Labour), Zac Goldsmith (Conservative), Caroline Pidgeon (Liberal Democrat), Peter Whittle (UKIP) and Sian Berry (Green) addressed more than 600 delegates from the technology industry and set out their policies to ensure London continues to compete with other high-skill cities.
All candidates acknowledged business frustration at broadband ‘not spots’ where firms and residents are relegated to slow speeds due to the lack of super-fast fibre and cable broadband.
Both Pidgeon and Goldsmith said broadband’s importance to business and residential users meant it should now be considered “a utility” with the Liberal Democrat hopeful suggesting that all planning applications for new-build properties should include super-fast broadband provision as standard.
Ms Berry and Mr Khan said they would work to increase the amount of open data made available by City Hall, its agencies and other bodies working in the capital, while Mr Whittle pledged to “call for a STEM representative in every school to increase diversity and access to the skills London needs.”
The candidates were speaking at a hustings organised by Tech London Advocates, techUK and Centre for London.
Charlotte Holloway, associate director, techUK: “If London is to stay ahead in 2020 and beyond, the next Mayor must embrace digital to transform London, not just to back our world-leading tech community but for the benefit of all Londoners.
“We’re looking for candidates to show some serious and ongoing vision for London that has digital technologies at its heart – from a strategy for digital inclusion and skills; to unlocking data to improve public services across the Boroughs; to supporting fast-growing tech businesses to deliver new jobs and growth.”
Jess Tyrrell, associate, Centre for London, added: “Technology is shaping the world around us and it is vital that the new mayor gets tech. London needs a mayor who understands the potential of digital London, and is willing both to address the challenges the tech sector faces – and ensure that London gets the best from tech.
“Of course, the new mayor cannot predict the innovations that will shape the city they inherit, but they can ensure that City Hall has a regulatory framework than can handle anything that innovators throw at it. ”