Whilst most of the recent media attention on Boris Johnson has focused on his announcement that he would indeed be standing at the next general election in May, the Mayor of London continues to pursue policies in his current role.
Speculation surrounding BoJo’s choice of constituency has reached fever pitch as the deadline set by the Party in September approaches. Whether he ends up choosing Uxbridge in the north west or Richmond in the south west, Johnson’s current concern is with London’s high streets, which he claims are “important arteries of public life” that give an area its unique identity.
His latest initiative, ‘Action for High Streets’, is part of his ‘Summer of High Streets’ campaign, during which he has been encouraging Londoners to make the most of their local retailers. Research commissioned by the GLA shows that two thirds of Londoners live within five minutes of a high street. Over half of London’s jobs and 47 per cent of its businesses stem from the capital’s 600 high streets.
The Mayor, with the backing of City Hall, has promised to attract further investment and wants to encourage collaboration with local business and boroughs to reinvigorate London’s high street. In addition to the Outer London Fund, which committed £50 million to helping London’s high streets grow, this additional initiative will offer support and and professional advice to local businesses. In the future, Johnson plans to address the challenges faced by Small and Medium Enterprises.
Johnson wants to promote the ‘welcoming, distinctive, diverse and growing’ atmosphere that makes high streets such a central part of local communities. As the Mayor serves out his last few years in office, he will be hoping that initiatives such as ‘Action for High Streets’ will continue to enhance his legacy amidst accusations that he would be unable to balance his current commitments with those of an MP, were he to be elected in May.
At the time of writing, Boris’s decision to stand for election does not appear to have bothered Londoners. Over half of the capital’s inhabitants would, the Huffington Post claims, vote for the Mayor once in Parliament.