The future of city centres

City centres often  generate higher incomes, higher property values and more turnover per person than the rest of a country. The more people you concentrate in a city centre, the more business there is for the shops, hospitality trade, personal services and the rest that congregate near the crowds.

Great cities have extra income  from commuting workers, local residents, tourist, business visitors, foreign investors and the rest. Homes have been a lot dearer in Westminster than Wokingham or Walsall because so many well off people and businesses congregate where the crowds are. People stream into central London to see the sights, use the shops, transact business close to one of the world’s great airports, next to one of the world’s most  famous shopping centres, and in one of the world’s leading business districts.

We are about to find out if all this can be sustained against the backdrop of a huge fall off in business activity. London has lost most of its millions of tourists, many of its visiting business people, most of its commuting workers and some of its richer  resident population who have retired to homes in the countryside. Its economy has taken a huge knock. Rents go unpaid. The shops that do open have nothing like the volume of trade to justify the very high rents. Many offices stand empty, with tenant businesses asking  themselves when is the next break clause in the agreement and how much space will they want in future?

There are those who say this will  be temporary. Give us a vaccine or better covid treatments in the autumn, relax the social distancing rules, and turnover will reappear and offices will fill up. There are others who say something has snapped. Office workers want to work from home more often.  Bosses with the detached house 30  miles out and the ghastly rail commute might also come to see the advantages of not always having to get the 7.05 to London. When will the international tourists return? 

The  retail sector has definitely taken a big hit from mass defections to on line forced by lock down. Not all of that loss will be won back as and when we return to “normal”. It is difficult to judge just how much office space companies will want post covid. It may be that we have witnessed peak office, which means reducing central city capacity in hospitality, sport and leisure.

The levelling up of the UK may have just witnessed a major levelling down of London, which has for so long outstripped the rest in productivity, incomes per head and private company formation.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.

170 Comments

  1. oldtimer
    Posted July 19, 2020 at 5:42 am | Permalink

    The reaction of my two sons and son-in-law is that they will be in no rush to return to full time office working in London. The cost and wear and tear of the daily commute is very high and they all feel, and are, much better off without them. They comment that this is not helpful to younger staff who live alone and those starting out who need to absorb the culture and working methods of their respective businesses. That can only be achieved in the proximity of the office, its meetings and meetings with clients. Just how this will work out is unclear – perhaps through a mixed system with a greater proportion home working or gatherings in off site locations. Much will depend on the nature of the business. I can imagine tourism returning to former levels over time; office work is another matter and those that have depended on it may have to adjust to a different world over time.

    • Hope
      Posted July 19, 2020 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

      Another day another blog where you fail to accept the consequences of your Fake Tory govt or solutions to the problems it has created. It was dangerous enough to go to city centres because your govt failed to keep everyone safe from terrorism or knife crime. Now your govt has created another reason of its own making. In addition to your other blogs where you cite high cost of business rates, parking etc. all community secretaries in your fake Tory govt failed to address, just like the failed Home Secretaries over ten long years.

      There is only one solution left, get rid of the Fake Tories and Labour. Our way of life, socially, economically and culturally depend on it. From September it is no longer safe to allow children to go to school. Articles by Carole Ffiske in Con. Woman and other make that abundantly clear.

      JR, what have you actually done or achieved for your community or nation by remaining in a party that does not like or uphold your views?

  2. Sea Warrior
    Posted July 19, 2020 at 6:23 am | Permalink

    Two points. Firstly, Sir John, you and your fellow MPs might wish to consider the likely trajectory of crime in London and the big cities. There’s a lot of long-term unemployment to come and there’ll be fewer good people around to demand that the police do their job. Second, housing prices in city centres will likely fall. Perhaps now might be a good time to put a halt to increasing ‘social-housing’. Instead, we should see if we encourage more people to buy their own homes in our cities. Owner-occupiers care about the areas they live in; renters and the large mass dependent on social-housing don’t. I have often felt that London is on its way to becoming a ‘failed city’, in the way of some in America, like Detroit. We must stop that from happening.

    • Ian Wragg
      Posted July 19, 2020 at 10:05 am | Permalink

      Especially in London which has the Mayor Khant. Virtue signalling to every minority cause and bankrupting Tfl.
      Allowing ER to take over the streets causing untold damage.
      Now we are coerced into dressing like bandits. No thanks I don’t want to go near any cities, you don’t feel welcome.

      • Hope
        Posted July 20, 2020 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

        There is no need for Mayors. The public rejected them but Fake Tories still carried on to add another costly layer of bureaucracy without any benefit whatsoever to the public, same with police commissioners. Chinese virus has shown additional layers of Mayors and devolved administrations have caused chaos, confusion and a waste of money.
        Still no English representation.

  3. Lifelogic
    Posted July 19, 2020 at 6:29 am | Permalink

    Indeed, though I am optimistic it will get back to something like normal fairly quickly. Death’s in the UK are after all now running slightly below the five year average. We just need to get back to work.

    We do however have a tax system that heavily punishes London (and other wealthy areas) with very high taxes on higher earners up to 45%, loss of child benefit and personal allowances and up to 15% taxes on expensive property purchases and 40% IHT on death. Commuting cost are not tax deductible either. Perhaps better to earn £50K in an area where you can buy a house for £100K than £150K in London (where the same size of house might cost 1 million plus with circa £60K of stamp duty tax on top! Plus we have the war against motorists, congestion charges, camera muggings, bus lanes, box junctions, parking fines & residents parking charges.

    The idiotic fiscal attacks on Non Doms by Osborne and Hammond were the government shooting the economy in the foot as usual too. Londoners are hugely overtaxed you might well find to people with a disposable income of say 15K PA after rent, mortgage etc. In London one might be paying an average of £70K in all taxes whereas outside London the other might have the same £15K of disposable income while paying just £8K in taxation and with cheaper shops and services locally too.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted July 19, 2020 at 6:31 am | Permalink

      Deaths (not death’s)

    • Nigl
      Posted July 19, 2020 at 8:27 am | Permalink

      Talking of shooting in foot, we are now intent on a trade war with China just when of course we can afford it and will lose. With companies under pressure already this government is happy, without any qualms, to make pensioners both current and future pay the price through reduced dividend income and therefore capital values.

      The hand wringing over loss of democracy relies on an ignorant public. Initially HK was controlled by the Hongs and then post the 1990 agreement 50% of the votes on the legislative council were given to companies. Hardly the hot bed that the government claims as one of the reasons for its actions. Interesting this morning it is alleged that it told Huweii that US pressure was partly to blame. I

      • DavidJ
        Posted July 19, 2020 at 11:38 am | Permalink

        A trade war is one thing. Allowing the takeover of our business and industry by a foreign power is quite another and is unacceptable on any terms. We must also ensure some protection for or own against the tide of Chinese tat which means it is difficult to buy products such as a decent pair of shoes for a reasonable price.
        Much could be excluded by simply enforcing our product standards, especially for basic materials such as steel. Restoring our core industry will take time so needs to commence now with UK ownership.

      • Sea Warrior
        Posted July 19, 2020 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

        I suspect that if the Hong Kongers were offered a choice between pre-1997 arrangements and rule by Communist China they would happily choose the former. And a little while back a survey in crime-ridden, independent Jamaica showed a majority in favour of returning to colony-status. Not that I would want that!

    • Ian @Barkham
      Posted July 19, 2020 at 10:33 am | Permalink

      If every one was treated equally by the measure of their own economic activity we could move forward rapidly.

      We have a system of handouts, grants, subsidies primarily that are built on top of one another to try a neutralize the discrepancy of the other. A tax system not fit for purpose

      • Lifelogic
        Posted July 20, 2020 at 4:59 am | Permalink

        A tax and benefit system that encourages fecklessness and discourages wealth generation in the UK.

  4. Stred
    Posted July 19, 2020 at 6:29 am | Permalink

    Well, at least London still has Sadiq, his PR office, plenty of BLM and Extinction supporters, cyclists, council flats, drug gangs, knifings, street parties, Cressida and the PC PCs, and Romanian builders finishing off the high rise flats.

    • Adam
      Posted July 19, 2020 at 7:59 am | Permalink

      Finishing off high rise flats like Ronan Point would be constructive. Their presence spoils.

    • Andy
      Posted July 19, 2020 at 8:34 am | Permalink

      And London will have Sadiq again at the next mayoral election – no Tory is winning here again anytime soon.

      You need to ask why the wealthiest city in our country overwhelmingly now rejects the party of the rich,

      • Ian Wragg
        Posted July 19, 2020 at 10:08 am | Permalink

        Because the rich don’t want to live there.
        Only rich foreigners and housing benefit immigrants can afford to live in London.

        • Narrow Shoulders
          Posted July 19, 2020 at 8:36 pm | Permalink

          Sadly this is true

      • SM
        Posted July 19, 2020 at 11:12 am | Permalink

        There are several reasons, for instance: the wealthiest Londoners constitute a very small number of voters, and a significant number of voters will vote for a candidate similar to themselves in ethnicity and religion.

        I write as someone born, bred and voting in London for decades who also did nearly 30 years of face-to-face canvassing in ‘multi-cultural’ Boroughs.

      • Fred H
        Posted July 19, 2020 at 11:40 am | Permalink

        The majority of occupants do not have the wealth, indeed are relatively recent immigrants, and do not feel allegiance to the Conservatives. Those voters need to be persuaded, will not be bought cheap.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted July 19, 2020 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

        Certainly not with their current level of invisible candidate.

      • Stred
        Posted July 19, 2020 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

        Already worked it out thanks. It’s population is now mainly social housing residents living in parts that the middle classes can’t afford, public sector workers liking high taxes needed to pay their pensions, rich lefties living off public funding like translators and civil rights lawyers, media wokeys, labour and green politicians, transport workers lead by hard left unions, and criminals.

        The city makes it rich but city workers have moved out.

        • Fred H
          Posted July 19, 2020 at 8:07 pm | Permalink

          oooh Stred …you are naughty, and cynical.

    • Leslie Singleton
      Posted July 19, 2020 at 9:23 am | Permalink

      Dear Stred–Born in London, worked whole life there but now regard the place with disdain, especially the wretched Congestion Charge, which it is hard to believe is still in place in the present situation, and increasing, yet, if I understand correctly. Often thought that places like London would be all the better if motorways were just ploughed willy nilly with few exceptions through the middle, one North/South and another East/West as in many American cities. Apart from anything else the consequent reduction in population would at a stroke turn back any need for commuting, which always was ridiculous (and may be about to die the death anyway). Or at least turn the commuting railway lines in to roads. Cancel HS2 of course–what a time to blow well over £100 billion on another archaic railway of all things–at least defer this particular idiocy till we can afford it, by which time it might have sunk in what a silly idea it was.

      • czerwonadupa
        Posted July 19, 2020 at 11:46 pm | Permalink

        Yesterday I saw on a foreign satellite a programme called Aerial Asia
        which showed Singapore from the sky. As I said to my wife a 21st century city that makes London look a very dirty, run down & neglected place. Many of the residents have, unlike the Singaporeans, no pride in their surroundings with it’s fly tipping, white & blue masks & gloves amongst other debris discarded in many streets, estates & front gardens littered with white goods the renters can’t be bothered to pay for the council to remove. And officialdom not prepared to enforce standards.

  5. Posted July 19, 2020 at 6:43 am | Permalink

    End social distancing now, we likely already have herd immunity and anyway this virus is scarcely more deadly than a seasonal flu epidemic. We have all completely overreacted to the threat and risk.

    • Adam
      Posted July 19, 2020 at 7:54 am | Permalink

      Being in crowded places to spend large sums of money on expensive things is popular while it appeals. Beyond that rush to crush, nature and its no-fee aspects of wider life offer even wilder sustainable enjoyment. Being close to others may be one of the most alluring pleasures on the planet, yet being stuck in a squashed train too long, too often with too many others evokes a desire for freedom.

    • UK Qanon
      Posted July 19, 2020 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

      Will Jones – The sensible individuals have not overeacted. The Globalist MSM has and and deliberately so, KNOWING of course like lemmings, the masses follow the herd.
      The masses still watch and listen to the BBC CH4 SKY etc and read the daily rags.
      Look who owns the MEDIA and remember, NEWS is what a certain group of people (globalists) want YOU to know.

  6. Irene
    Posted July 19, 2020 at 6:46 am | Permalink

    You seem to ignore the huge inequalities that are still alive and well in London, both in wealth and opportunity, with poverty in some parts of London far greater than in, say, leafy Wokingham a mere 40 miles away. Have the residents of Tower Hamlets, Brent or Hackney enjoyed or experienced the wealth you talk of? The gentrification of Stoke Newington and Shoreditch has yet to filter down to the less affluent. Hoxton? Once a squalid part of London, full of the grafting working class has been transformed, but not in the interests of the indigenous population.

    The tourists and wealthy business people may not be visitng at the moment, but poverty still exists among the people who live there every day, and who can’t nip off to their out-of-town mansion. Will they ever get the levelling up that others have enjoyed? Or will their existence sink from ‘just about managing’ to ‘what’s the point’? London may soon be a London without Londoners if the global money bubble survives. Even Sloane Rangers can no longer afford to live anywhere close to Sloane Square.

    • IanT
      Posted July 19, 2020 at 8:34 am | Permalink

      All of my generation of family were born and grew up in London. None of my relations (or their children) live there now. The “Londoners” I knew as a boy left London some time ago.

      • Alan Jutson
        Posted July 19, 2020 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

        IanT

        So true.

    • a-tracy
      Posted July 19, 2020 at 10:13 pm | Permalink

      Irene do you not think the pupil premium for inner City London has made any difference at all?

      What about all the insistence of social housing in mixed developments?

      If we keep important thousands of people that arrive on our shore with nothing and they mostly want to live in London or other major Cities do you expect the rest of the population just to give them everything to make them equal?

      What do you want?

  7. Sharon Jagger
    Posted July 19, 2020 at 6:47 am | Permalink

    JR

    You paint a rather bleak picture of London. Throughout history it’s always been a city of bustling activity. Rich Londoners have always had a residence in the country to which they retire in the summer months, so it was inevitable that during Lockdown this was where they’d go. More space outdoors.

    However, ignoring the tourism angle – which is very important- it’s rhe commuters we should also be the most concerned about. This is the group of people one would expect would begin the the gradual return to normality, and they’re not! There seems to be a collective selfishness in attitude. Also, the absurd measures being guidelines for employers I think are totally unrealistic.

    In short, unless something drastic is done soon – despite becoming a free country after leaving the EU – we’ll hardly have a country if London fails.

    I’ve seen the wonderfully positive adverts for getting Britain going – but for some reason there’s seems a lack of will from the people….why, I wonder?

    I believe it’s the fear that we’re surrounded by this deadly disease still, which because of the data recording, which basically was falsified to paint a bleaker picture, presents a really dire scenario. I don’t believe the virus situation is dire now, if it ever was. According to a hospital doctor in Surrey he believes the figures to be 5 or 10x greater than the actual reality of cases. That means only 4,000 odd deaths from Covid-19…

    • Nigl
      Posted July 19, 2020 at 7:36 am | Permalink

      Re the figures I find it depressing that PHE immediately went into denial mode as indeed all those institutions especially the BBC do.

      I heard from a trusted friend, he had a relative who died in a care home. No symptoms whatsoever of Covid but they put that down as cause of death, allegedly because it was easier administratively!

      • steve
        Posted July 19, 2020 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

        Nig1

        That would amount to falsifying a death certificate. I think your friend should go legal.

      • czerwonadupa
        Posted July 19, 2020 at 10:26 pm | Permalink

        I can quite believe that as I know of a care home in west London were doctors don’t visit because of the virus & when a resident dies the nurse has to phone the doctor who after a few perfunctory questions issues a death certificate. And what is the easiest death to record in the ‘new norm’ ?

    • steve
      Posted July 19, 2020 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

      Sharon Jagger

      “I believe it’s the fear that we’re surrounded by this deadly disease still”

      Actually it doesn’t scare me one bit.

    • Longinus
      Posted July 19, 2020 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

      it’s the commuters we should also be the most concerned about. This is the group of people one would expect would begin the the gradual return to normality, and they’re not! There seems to be a collective selfishness in attitude

      Same commuters who have had to pay exorbitant sums for season tickets on trains and tube? Plus parking. Let London suffer, the commuters may not be returning.

    • Al
      Posted July 22, 2020 at 6:40 am | Permalink

      “I’ve seen the wonderfully positive adverts for getting Britain going – but for some reason there’s seems a lack of will from the people….why, I wonder?”

      Because working from home has proved convenient for many, companies have discovered it is cheaper than paying for offices if they can reduce desk capacity, it reduces pollution, it avoids paying the congestion charge or extortionately expensive travel cards…

      As long as the work gets done, the funds from banking and such traditionally city-based offices still flow into the country. Perhaps we should be looking at encouraging a rebirth of the local high street instead of the city? It would create more widely dispersed employment, distribute income further, and conversion of unused outer offices into residences would avoid the constant building on green space that is going on.

      The people that would be the most damaged would be the central London property owners, but this could be viewed in the same light as any bubble bursting.

  8. Anonymous
    Posted July 19, 2020 at 6:51 am | Permalink

    Peter Hitchens in the Mail on Sunday is spot on this morning.

    We are in a terrifying situation and not through fear of the disease but the kind of society we are becoming. Millions are going to be losing jobs they thought were secure and the restrictions on our lives are beyond the measures of the most totalitarian states.

    The wearing of face masks is political and not scientific. PHE have been counting deaths the wrong way. They count those who have tested positive with CV19 and check if they’re still alive months later and if they are not still alive months later they go down as a CV19 death.

    The above average death rate is down to people refusing to go to hospital but is counted as CV19 as well.

    • Nigl
      Posted July 19, 2020 at 7:42 am | Permalink

      The day I think Peter Hitchens is right, hell will have frozen over. From day one i and others I know, wore masks, indeed I wore two sprayed with water proofing on the basis if it only reduced what I was spraying out and some incoming, it had to be better than nothing.

      So PH, nonsense.

      • UK Qanon
        Posted July 19, 2020 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

        Nigl – YOU definitely have your head in the sand.

      • Anonymous
        Posted July 19, 2020 at 5:29 pm | Permalink

        I have not worn a mask until recently. I am now bewildered as to why.

        I know no-one who has died of CV19, I don’t even think I know anyone who’s had CV19. We are not pulling bodies out of neighbours houses or ringing out the bell – friends working in hospitals tell me they’ve never had it quieter.

        I know one workmate and friend who has died because of lockdown and delayed appointments.

        The UN estimates up to 1.6 billion jobs lost worldwide – lower estimates at 125 million, either way, a lot of hunger and death because of lockdowns.

        Is anyone anywhere counting this ?

        No assessment has been made to balance death by CV19 and death by lockdown.

        What has your liking of Peter Hitchens to do with it ? What is your position on the PHE decision to say that someone run over a bus with CV19 died of CV19 ???

        Was this decision to embarrass the Government or was the Government complicit in making a mole hill into a mountain in order the justify the biggest **** up in UK history ?

    • Lifelogic
      Posted July 19, 2020 at 8:56 am | Permalink

      The is no doubt that face coverings do help in some situations had we used them earlier there would certainly have been rather fewer deaths.

      • Posted July 19, 2020 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

        On what basis do you say that? All the evidence is that face coverings are and always were, useless.

      • Anonymous
        Posted July 19, 2020 at 5:21 pm | Permalink

        Yet the scientists and BBC doctors told us time and again that masks were of little use to the general public and this half hearted enforcement of it indicates that it’s entirely political.

        In a shop but not a pub, in a train but not a gym…

        FFS !

        Can we not have a real leader ?

        • a-tracy
          Posted July 19, 2020 at 10:19 pm | Permalink

          The reason you don’t have to wear it in a pub is because you’re supposed to keep 2m distance, it is only when someone has to go within someone else’s space that you need a mask.

          When supermarkets were tightly controlled, queue at the entrance, 2m distance between shoppers it was considered safer, small shops have said that it is too difficult to just have everyone with 2m distance hence the request to wear a mask to shop, why shops were re-opened if this is considered necessary but from next week I don’t understand. We should have been prepared one week before re-opening not just wing it and see if they honestly feel a mask is required in a shop.

    • Original Chris
      Posted July 19, 2020 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

      It is an excellent article by PH, Anonymous, and should be the wake up call not only to ordinary people, but also those Cons MPs who have supported Boris’s seriously flawed and damaging disease control policy.

      It is not good enough for those MPs to just say or hint that they do not agree with Boris or to say that medical issues are beyond their understanding (thus leave it to the so called “experts”). They have to insist that economic and social effects of a disease control policy must be taken into account before embarking on a policy. They must push forcefully for action to change the policy, and for an injection of wisdom, vision and common sense into the handling of the situation.

      • Anonymous
        Posted July 19, 2020 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

        Sadly they listen to the Twitterati and Piers Morgan rather than common sense and the People.

        WHERE is the assessment of Death by CV19 and Death by Lockdown ?

    • steve
      Posted July 19, 2020 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

      Anon

      “The wearing of face masks is political and not scientific.”

      I’m convinced it is to condition people into getting used to not talking to each other, and hence divided. Therefore, more easily controlled.

      You can also bet your life someone will be making a fortune from face masks. It stinks.

      • Anonymous
        Posted July 19, 2020 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

        I think it’s more to do with there having been such a catastrophic economic overreaction to the disease that they have to perpetuate its seriousness rather than admit they’ve right royally ***ked up. (I’m not saying it isn’t serious – but not economy wrecking serious.)

        • Mark B
          Posted July 20, 2020 at 5:15 am | Permalink

          Spot on. Sadly

          🙁

  9. steve
    Posted July 19, 2020 at 6:59 am | Permalink

    Good morning Sir Redwood

    Fine topic for a Sunday morning read.

    You say “as and when we return to “normal”.

    I suspect the plan is to normalise rather than return to normal. Boris Johnson has got this country in a hell of a mess. He did not use the fact that we’re an island to any advantage, instead kept borders open and allowed the virus in. That is why we have a national crisis.

    Obviously he didn’t want to upset foreign owned airlines and other countries.

    Some news for Boris: he’s upset us, fatal mistake.

    Screwed the economy, failed to protect us from foreign influence, robbed us of our enshrined freedoms, ignored brexit just like the conservatives did for the last four years but this time using covid as a distraction.

    Anyone who thinks we’ll forgive & forget is a fool. This is the last conservative government you will see.

    • Fred H
      Posted July 19, 2020 at 11:33 am | Permalink

      steve – – there have been enough fools that did forget and forgive, such that similar voting takes place each GE. Perhaps this next one the voters who swung to blue will swing somewhere else, and the historic blues will take a long hard examination of where their recent votes have resulted!

    • Original Chris
      Posted July 19, 2020 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

      I believe you are right, steve. However, this has not been a truly Conservative government, as with May and Cameron. The fruits of their “progressive” Conservatism are there for all to see. A disaster in my view, with far fewer liberties, much greater taxation, and the cementing of the hold of the Marxist Left on the institutions of this country, not to mention inviting in China to the heart of our system. Downright dangerous, and brought about by whom I consider to be corrupt politicians and civil servants who have been content to “sell off” parts of our country. There have to be some U turns effected with regard to China, and very quickly. No good a few years hence.

      • czerwonadupa
        Posted July 19, 2020 at 11:15 pm | Permalink

        As Harold many moons ago said (that’s Lord Stockton not Steptoe) “They’re selling off the family silver”
        The problem was not that they were selling but to whom. As old Vladimir Lenin said, “The Capitalists will sell us the rope with which we will hang them.”

  10. DOMINIC
    Posted July 19, 2020 at 7:18 am | Permalink

    London is lost to Labour. They have since 1997 created a bloc vote that gives them perpetual political and electoral monopoly over this once great Metropolis. This strategic and deliberate process can only accelerate. At some point the fundamental nature of what London once was will disappear and with it London’s claim to be the capital of this once wonderful nation

    CV19 has exposed the utter moral and legal bankruptcy of our political, judicial and administrative class. We are governed by people who do not see the world in the way normal folk do. These moral degenerates have no soul or heart, their aim is the total obliteration of our nation and its rebirth as a most appalling environment for humans to inhabit

    CV19 has simply accelerated the demise of our nation for now we can see their plan for demographic reconstruction. The evidence is right in front of our faces each and every day.

    People complain about these changes and yet they continue to vote Labour and Tory at each and every GE knowing that both parties that are directly responsible for where we are today. Why do they do this?

    • Ian @Barkham
      Posted July 19, 2020 at 9:18 am | Permalink

      Agree to a point, The City (no one lives) and the expanded zone called London are not the same.

      One has a mayor focused on moving Tories out by let dirty street and crime dominate. The other they all retire each evening to safe havens in the Conservative shires.

    • Caterpillar
      Posted July 19, 2020 at 11:11 am | Permalink

      Dominic, I agree with first paragraph.

      On your ending question, the reasons are

      (1) there is no alternative, at least in England. The LDs and Greens at the last GE seemed to signal progressive alliance. The Brexit Party, as was, withdrew candidates to guarantee the Conservative victory in return for nothing. Rational argument, free speech, an English voice … will not happen without electoral reform, and electoral reform will not happen.
      (2) sufficient voters can simply be bought e.g. furlough payments, artificially inflated land and house prices.

  11. James1
    Posted July 19, 2020 at 7:20 am | Permalink

    We’re in a recession, which will shortly be increasingly described as a depression. The country will come out of it as it has before, minus much of the infestation of wokery and political correctness claptrap.

    • steve
      Posted July 19, 2020 at 8:13 am | Permalink

      “The country will come out of it as it has before, minus much of the infestation of wokery and political correctness claptrap.”

      Dream on James. It won’t happen without a serious reckoning.

    • Andy
      Posted July 19, 2020 at 8:54 am | Permalink

      It is deeply ironic that you lot – who are all deeply offended by everything – spend so much time accusing others of wokery, snowflakery, political correctnessness.

      Most of you are outraged at everything – teenage climate change campaigners, equality protesters, gay marriage, transgender rights. Perhaps you should all calm down – take a chill pill and leave everybody else to live their own lives as they see fit.

      • Mark
        Posted July 19, 2020 at 11:59 am | Permalink

        Perhaps if the woke left people to live their lives in peace we wouldn’t mind about them. But when they seek to cancel, deplatform, and erase history as in a Maoist revolution there is a great incentive to try to preserve civilisation.

      • acorn
        Posted July 19, 2020 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

        Denialism: In the psychology of human behavior, denialism is a person’s choice to deny reality as a way to avoid a psychologically uncomfortable truth.

        Social media enhanced Denialism, drives people to reject the truth. From vaccines to climate change to genocide, a new age of denialism is upon us. Why have we failed to understand it? By Keith Kahn-Harris

        • Edward2
          Posted July 19, 2020 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

          That is exactly what happens when you tell educated lefty liberals that socialism doesn’t work.
          100 million deaths in the 20th century and they just deny it.

        • Fred H
          Posted July 19, 2020 at 7:20 pm | Permalink

          China is wonderful, Russia has put spying behind it, N.Korea bears no ill-will, S.Africa has reformed, Europe embraces multi-culturalism, UK stands united, Democracy is alive and well in Britain, Arab states want to peacefully co-exist, USA is an intellectually free-thinking balanced democracy, Establishment thinking in UK dearly wants equality for all…

      • Anonymous
        Posted July 19, 2020 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

        A total reversal of truth again.

        We have been quiet about such things – now it’s a sign of guilt to be quiet about such things and not openly enthusiastic about them.

        • Martin in Cardiff
          Posted July 20, 2020 at 9:43 am | Permalink

          But they’re trivial, tickled-by-a-feather matters.

          And yet you hyperventilate and burst blood vessels over them.

          • Edward2
            Posted July 21, 2020 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

            What like being stopped from public speaking or being de-platformed or being sacked from your job or being expelled from social media platforms just because your politics are different to the left wing howling violent mob?

          • Martin in Cardiff
            Posted July 22, 2020 at 7:58 pm | Permalink

            So under Tory employment “law” employers have too much arbitrary power over workers.

            Don’t vote Tory.

  12. Alan Jutson
    Posted July 19, 2020 at 7:59 am | Permalink

    Without the higher earners commuting and spending daily in the big Cities, those working at a lower level and feeding off of that expenditure by supplying goods and services, will suffer badly.

    If we are not careful the city centres and the immediate surrounding areas will eventually become very unpleasant places to live and work.

    • Fred H
      Posted July 19, 2020 at 11:28 am | Permalink

      Alan ‘ If we are not careful the city centres and the immediate surrounding areas will eventually become very unpleasant places to live and work.’

      Surely how you perceive unpleasant is in the mind of the beholder?
      Those that don’t mind commuting, enjoy the take away coffee, the ‘buzz’ of big cities will stay happy. Those that detest long commuting, the cost, the dirt and grime, aren’t fussed about rip-off coffee, and feel they can work better in the home will not want to return to the cities.

      • Alan Jutson
        Posted July 19, 2020 at 8:06 pm | Permalink

        Fred

        With more home working and less commuting, I would be concerned the future of these particular areas will become even more run down, with ever more rising crime, and social deprivation as fewer and fewer of the less skilled, will find difficulty getting/keeping work as demand from the commuters diminishes.

        • Fred H
          Posted July 20, 2020 at 7:13 pm | Permalink

          where in central London, Manchester , Glasgow , Edinburgh would you say is run down?

          Canary Wharf, West End, Salford, G.Central Stn, E.’the Royal Mile’ – – all really rough and neglected?
          They were at the end of 1940s.

  13. jerry
    Posted July 19, 2020 at 8:01 am | Permalink

    Everything you say is relative.London has no more right to survive in its current form as Bolsover, Consett or Corby (for example) did back in the 1980s…

    There is no reason why company X needs to have their main offices in Docklands, the City of London or the City of Westminster these days when they deal with customers from around the world electronically, why can’t their offices be in Winchester, Kettering, Manchester or even say Redruth Cornwall… Why do they even need such large offices when most of their employees can work remotely these days, from home or from distributed hubs around the country [1]. Why do all the major Theatres have to be in the West End (often sucking the life out of the provincial and regional Theatres, certainly in the Home Countries) – but they have traditionally been in London I hear people mutter, so what!

    I don’t remember you telling Nissan, back in the 1980s, they should build their new factory in Birmingham, Coventry or the east end of London (within easy access of the Dagenham area) because those were the then centres of the UK car industry, I seem to recall you and your colleagues went to great lengths to place such inward investment away from traditional motor industry areas, wanting a fresh approach and a break from traditional industry attitudes…

    Your entire article above reads as attempted protectionism for London, its landlords and developers, from the new realities of life.

    [1] important if there are going to be local rather than national lock-down for the foreseeable future

    Reply Try reading it again. It just states the current position. It does not on this occasion recommend a solution

    • Polly
      Posted July 19, 2020 at 9:54 am | Permalink

      Agreed, but solutions are needed, and to provide them surely it is essential to correctly identify what has gone wrong in the UK and why ?

      Without simply labeling conclusions based on carefully researched evidence as ”conspiracy theories” because those conclusions are inconvenient to you.

      Would you not agree ?

      Polly

      • jerry
        Posted July 20, 2020 at 6:33 am | Permalink

        @Polly; Who mentioned conspiracy theories! Was your reply intended for someone else?

    • jerry
      Posted July 19, 2020 at 11:55 am | Permalink

      @JR reply; So your article is a bit pointless then, your title was ‘The future of city centres’ but you talked only of London, I wonder why? Unless this is just the first in a series, where to next, Manchester, or perhaps it might be the poor relations of London in the South, perhaps Portsmouth, Southampton, I’ve already mentioned Winchester, what about Chichester or Brighton & Hove or even Canterbury, and of course their surrounding conurbations.

  14. Posted July 19, 2020 at 8:06 am | Permalink

    The Real problem here is that nobody at the helm has dine a real assessment of where each potential path will take us.
    1)Do we use lockdown to fight the virus and to hell with the economy?
    2)Do we allow people to die earlier than they would have to save the economy?
    There has to be an in between, but that needs thoroughly honest medical solutions & statistics.

    Taking each option forward – where do they lead?
    2) We would really see how effective the virus was in killing us, but it’s effect should die out very quickly and normality resumed.

    1) Scared to go outside, we would succumb to a second permanent lockdown – with the government so willing to impose restrictions on us, we would be forced to into having vaccinations and health passport chips – but life would never return to normal – restriction would never be lifted because of fear.

    If anybody wanted to destroy our freedoms and our way of life they couldn’t do better than to make sure the first option is pushed to the limits.

    • Ian @Barkham
      Posted July 19, 2020 at 10:26 am | Permalink

      Common sense instead of centralized control would have had us move on before now.

      So-called PHE and Sage should have exposed their thinking. For their peers to analyze and challenge – proper science.

      The whole country as forced into what was right for London at a single moment in time. When in reality the regions needed to control things when they arose. Meaning the process is now spread over a longer period of time inflicting more damage.

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted July 19, 2020 at 11:57 am | Permalink

      It wasn’t a binary choice in countries with proper, decent governments.

      Protecting public health energetically right from the start, and saving the economy are EXACTLY the same thing.

      • Edward2
        Posted July 19, 2020 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

        Many countries locked down around the time we did.
        Some locked down later than us.

      • Anonymous
        Posted July 19, 2020 at 5:40 pm | Permalink

        Yes.

        We should have locked our borders right away.

        But Remainers wouldn’t let us !

        • Martin in Cardiff
          Posted July 19, 2020 at 9:48 pm | Permalink

          Rubbish.

          The Tories have a majority of eighty. No group could have stopped them even if your silly claim were true.

          It was just too much faff for them.

          • Edward2
            Posted July 21, 2020 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

            When would you have stopped all flights?
            When would you gave closed ll our ports and closed the Channel Tunnel?
            When would you have returned all the dingies?
            Looking forward to your response.

          • Martin in Cardiff
            Posted July 22, 2020 at 7:59 pm | Permalink

            I am not your Tory government with an indefeasible majority.

            Ask them.

      • Anonymous
        Posted July 19, 2020 at 6:47 pm | Permalink

        “Protecting public health energetically right from the start, and saving the economy are EXACTLY the same thing.”

        How do we know ? We locked down, as did most other countries and all will suffer the economic fallout.

        The UN estimates up to 1.6 billion jobs lost worldwide. Less alarming estimates are 125 million jobs.

        That’s a lot of hunger and death inflicted by lockdown – and yet again, a Communist regime inflicts mass suffering on the world.

        And only a few weeks ago MiC was telling us how exhilarating the lockdown breaching BLM protests were !

        When did you start wearing your mask, Martin ? Did you have to be told when ?

        • Anonymous
          Posted July 19, 2020 at 6:49 pm | Permalink

          “How do we know ? We locked down, as did most other countries and all will suffer the economic fallout.

          The UN estimates up to 1.6 billion jobs lost worldwide. Less alarming estimates are 125 million jobs.”

          Further to that: no one bothered to do a risk assessment comparing deaths caused by lockdown to deaths by CV19.

      • steve
        Posted July 19, 2020 at 7:18 pm | Permalink

        MiC

        Agree with that.

      • Posted July 19, 2020 at 8:07 pm | Permalink

        MIC
        “Protecting public health energetically right from the start, and saving the economy are EXACTLY the same thing.”

        No – – they are mutually incompatible in this regard

        • Martin in Cardiff
          Posted July 20, 2020 at 8:00 am | Permalink

          So you are claiming that countries which have suffered only a handful of deaths like New Zealand, and where sporting events with crowds of tens of thousands can be held, and where work happens as per normal now have suffered worse damage than the UK.

          Please explain.

          • Edward2
            Posted July 20, 2020 at 6:37 pm | Permalink

            3 million people spaced out on two huge islands where there is no world airport hub.
            Easy to lock down and isloate.
            More sheep than people.

          • Martin in Cardiff
            Posted July 20, 2020 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

            Even if your inanity were a true excuse, it is nothing to do with the point under discussion.

          • Edward2
            Posted July 21, 2020 at 8:37 am | Permalink

            What I said was factual and true.
            Even bill would have been proud.

            How it can be described as inanity by you shows how facts that expose your ridiculous views affect you.

          • a-tracy
            Posted July 21, 2020 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

            “Entry to New Zealand border is currently closed to almost all arrivals”

            those that arrive are strictly quarantined.
            Would you be agreeable to Boris doing that with the UK Martin? No more incoming planes without provisos and those we do allow through strict quarantine with checks? Not allowed out for 14 days?

          • Edward2
            Posted July 21, 2020 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

            And ports.
            And channel tunnel.
            And all those dingies.

      • Fred H
        Posted July 20, 2020 at 7:08 pm | Permalink

        we had ‘saving lives’ then ‘saving NHS’ followed by ‘saving the economy’ when will it be ‘saving Boris’?

  15. John E
    Posted July 19, 2020 at 8:09 am | Permalink

    We are not there yet but all this pessimism tells me there will be a genuine once in a lifetime investment opportunity to be grasped in the next year or so.

  16. steve
    Posted July 19, 2020 at 8:11 am | Permalink

    Dominic

    “Why do they do this?”

    LabCon are finished. Both of them have been having us over for decades with the common purpose of pulling our country down, much to the pleasure of other countries most of which we liberated from tyranny.

    Wait for the Boris bombshell, I anticipate end of the year he’ll announce the country is in such bad shape that brexit will be cancelled. No doubt his ‘advisers’ will tell him he’ll get away with it.

    Personally I don’t care if they oust Boris and even replace him with the likes of IDS, it’s too late for me and I won’t be voting Labour or Conservative. …k the lot of ’em.

    • The Prangwizard
      Posted July 19, 2020 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

      Tragically LabCon are not finished because there is no alternative. They do not allow dissent, the Stasi police break up any attempt to demonstrate in favour of return to the Freedoms and a restoration of national identity. The media is mostly willing to protect their politics. Our host says he speaks for England but only within very strict confines. He will never strike out for England above anything else.

      People are ‘cancelled’ when they speak out. Thankfully there are some journalists who remain but not for long I fear.

    • acorn
      Posted July 19, 2020 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

      [S]teve, you say “the country is in such bad shape that brexit will be cancelled”.

      Continental number crunchers tell me you can get betting odds on that in Brussels. They reckon there will be an EU charge for forgetting Art 50 Brexit ever happened, equivalent to the Thatcher discount, €5 billion this year.

  17. Javelin
    Posted July 19, 2020 at 8:16 am | Permalink

    BBC Andrew Marr show at 9:09, saying it “emerged yesterday” that the figures were incorrect and it would only be by “a few thousand” difference. #FakeNews. They
    way the BBC are spinning it is that the difference is between England, Wales, NI and Scotland not the “with” or “because” of covid. The BBC are saying the figures have been suspended because non-English regions count deaths with covid within 3 weeks of being tested positive as covid deaths whilst in England it’s being tested with covid at death that indicates a covid death. Which completely misses the point that if you get hits by a bus with covid then it counts as a covid death.

    • Fred H
      Posted July 19, 2020 at 11:24 am | Permalink

      If you get ‘hit by a bus’ will you get tested?
      If you ‘know’ you have Covid – why are you out and about? Your death may not be attributed to Covid?
      Statistics!

      • Martin in Cardiff
        Posted July 20, 2020 at 9:47 am | Permalink

        We’re now into “Brussels bans British banger” territory, but over a disease which has killed countless.

        And all so that the Tories might cling on to power.

        • Edward2
          Posted July 20, 2020 at 6:39 pm | Permalink

          The cling to power went well in the last election.
          Labour had their worst result since the 1930s
          And polls show little change.
          You must live in a Labour bubble.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted July 19, 2020 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

      I do not think that that many people have been hit by a bus after catching Covid (and even if they were having Covid might have distracted them). We have about 70,000 excess deaths so what else do you think has caused this? Almost certainly they were virtually all caused by the virus or it contributed to these deaths. In some cases they may have only brought death forwards by a week or two and the virus might only have been one factor – but a factor nevertheless.

      • Martin in Cardiff
        Posted July 20, 2020 at 7:24 pm | Permalink

        Have a word with Edward2, LL.

        Thanks.

        • Edward2
          Posted July 21, 2020 at 8:43 am | Permalink

          I dont dispute the excess deaths figure.
          Although 64,000 seems to be a common figure quoted.
          And we do not really know how many died due to the NHS shutting down normal treatments and operations.
          I do not agree “virtually all” extra deaths were caused by Covid.

          • a-tracy
            Posted July 21, 2020 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

            Edward2 you are not alone.

          • Edward2
            Posted July 21, 2020 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

            I have friend who is starting legal action disputing the death certificate which says her relative died of Covid.
            No test.
            Just a guess of a very old and quite poorly person who passed away.

          • Martin in Cardiff
            Posted July 22, 2020 at 8:02 pm | Permalink

            Doctors are allowed to diagnose.

            There is plenty of case law on this.

      • a-tracy
        Posted July 21, 2020 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

        Excess deaths are falling below average.
        58,000 excess died in 2018 predominantly from flu, there was a previous peak in 2014.

        How do you know what % of these deaths registered in the UK were all from usual UK residents? How many came here off cruise boats or from Countries where they usually lived to receive treatment here and then passed away?

        Why aren’t we allowed into Hospitals? Why were people given sentences for taking photos of empty hospitals? Why aren’t private treatments resuming now? Why after sixteen weeks of lockdown are areas getting spikes, if people working in sweat shops are the cause they would have been working throughout I presume, are they having family visiting from abroad where other Countries aren’t testing.

        All those farmworkers testing positive, their Countries aren’t being reported as having excess deaths at all, why not?

  18. Posted July 19, 2020 at 8:26 am | Permalink

    Mrs May, when asked if she was fearful for the Tory party answered ‘no, because it’s th oldest political party in the world (and therefore in her brain indestructible). Boris thought the same of Britain and London.
    I witnessed a major financial metropolis, complete with tower bocks, one shaped like a diamond, abandoned. Johannesburg. It is now a slum, It became too dangerous for the wealth creators to go to.
    London is no longer British, and so nobody will fight for it.
    The question is whether Britain is British – or is that also ‘owned by nobody’? If anybody can be British then nobody is British and a homeland for the Britons is not required.

    • Barry
      Posted July 19, 2020 at 10:39 am | Permalink

      “London is no longer British”

      And places like Birmingham are? You seem to be forgetting that a city is not just the people on the elctoral role. London has a vast number of cummuters who keep the centre esssentially British. The commuters will return, as will the largely European tourists, although this will take longer. Smaller cities with fewer commuters and tourist potential are the ones that will suffer, but that won’t please the London bashers.

      The novelty of staying at home is wearing off. I already hear people saying that now is a good time to see the sights. I don’t believe the doom-mongers that, sadly, this country seems to specialise in.

      • Anonymous
        Posted July 19, 2020 at 5:42 pm | Permalink

        From someone who obviously hasn’t experience the recent delights of long distance commuting.

        Just think what you can do with an extra three hours a day and six thousand pounds a year.

    • Fred H
      Posted July 19, 2020 at 11:22 am | Permalink

      Thought provoking…

  19. Sakara Gold
    Posted July 19, 2020 at 8:35 am | Permalink

    It is difficult to disagree with this analysis of what has happened to our city centres. The public do seem to be avoiding places where they would come into contact with large groups of people. Working from home is safer and many people have lost their jobs – it may not be possible to return to the old frenetic pace of life.

    The demise of the retail sector was happening anyway, as people embraced the digital revolution and bought what they wanted online. The UK has lost many famous retail names over the past few years; department stores have closed outlets and re-negotiated rental agreements with their landlords, where once they owned the premises that they operated from.

    It looks inevitable that the world will now have to suffer a major depression. Apart from the pandemic, these things are said to run in cycles. This one will be bad because of the humungous amounts of malivested debt accumulated by governments and the public. Remember that Austrian school business cycle theory holds that such malinvestment is caused by artificially low cost of credit and an unsustainable increase in money supply.

    The people who will survive – and even prosper – will be those who have paid down their debt and have access to savings and income producing assets. Provided the banks dont go bust, as they did in the Great Depression.

    And those who have bought some gold bullion as insurance.

  20. Dave Andrews
    Posted July 19, 2020 at 8:57 am | Permalink

    I guess tenants who feel they still have a business will renew their commercial rents. However, who in their right mind is going to press ahead with taking on a new commercial rent to start a new business or expand, when there is the threat of renewed lockdowns?
    The public sector will continue as ever, with no attempt from government to reduce it. They will continue to print money to pay for it, as that is the most politically expedient, until global confidence in sterling collapses.

  21. agricola
    Posted July 19, 2020 at 9:01 am | Permalink

    We have been here before. We are in the throws of a fundamental change in the purpose of city centres. First we had the fact that city centres were rarely user friendly. Those that run them hate the motor car and see them as a cash cow. Witness the movement of most supermarkets to the fringes of cities. Then we have the internet and the fundamental way in which it has changed how we obtain the goods we require. Thirdly there is Coronavirus which has acted as a catalyst to the process of city centre change.

    City counsels will need to re- think their attitude to the motor car and the way in which they interact with people wishing to conduct any business in city centres. There are a range of businesses in catering, entertainment, and clothing who might be willing to conduct business in city centres given the right climate to do so. Equally the larger vacant stores are conversion potential to domestic housing

    The largest challenge is for councils and planners to free up their thinking and become pro business and customers.

  22. Posted July 19, 2020 at 9:14 am | Permalink

    The two articles in Conservative Woman today (Sunday) describe our traitor elite. Bought or blackmailed, there can be no other explanation.

    • steve
      Posted July 19, 2020 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

      Iago

      I like Conservative Woman, free speech is allowed there and they tell it like it is.

  23. ChrisS
    Posted July 19, 2020 at 9:19 am | Permalink

    Fortyfive years ago, I visited a house in Maidenhead where a businessman ran his worldwide trading business from a home office. It was a professional-looking room, overlooking the cricket pitch at Pinkney’s Green and the whole concept made a big impression on me, particularly as I was then commuting daily to Belgrave Square.
    The centrepiece of his office was the very latest in technology, a fax machine, which he eagerly demonstrated.

    Ten years later I was able to set up my own home office and for the last 35 years I have spent most of my time working from home, both here and in Germany.

    From my current spacious home office, today’s technology enables me to do everything that I could possibly accomplish in an office without wasting time or money on commuting. It has always been a mystery to me why most large companies have failed to latch onto home-working, given the lifestyle advantages to staff and the savings possible on office space for the businesses.

    Thanks to the pandemic, hundreds of thousands of office workers have now discovered the lifestyle advantages of home working and enlightened employers can see a massive saving in office costs. As with internet shopping, the pandemic has brought forward an inevitable change by between five and ten years we should all embrace.

    It would be crazy for the government to encourage a return to office working for everyone, given the advantages offered to the country of a reduction in commuting time, traffic and emissions that home working will bring. Yes, we will lose a few thousands relatively worthless jobs in coffee shops etc, but the gains in productivity by skilled managers and office workers will more than compensate for that.

  24. William Long
    Posted July 19, 2020 at 9:28 am | Permalink

    A great deal of the rationale for major city centres was the need for face to face conversations to get deals done. There has been a growing question mark over this as electronic communication has advanced; for some time in practice as well as theory this has made remote working feasible. What CV19 has done is to prove that for most day to day matters remote working really works for all non-manual functions and it is clearly here to stay with obvious implications for city centres and commuter transport. My two sons are both in London centric jobs, but neither expects ever again to have to go to his London office on a daily or even regular basis. Meetings with clients seem likely to remain more effective face to face than on Zoom or Skype, but they are expected to take place at some mutually convenient venue rather than in a city office.
    The other thing is the change to on-line shopping. I think people will still want to see many things, particularly if they are expensive before they buy them, but having looked they are likely to go home and order on-line: there is a huge convenience in having something delivered to your door. Perversely the need to see before buying also applies to cheaper items like fresh food: if you are buying apples by number rather than weght it is important to know whether they are large or small ones which a supermarket website does not tell you.
    All this leads me to the view that there is going to be an awful lot of city centre space standing empty and adding insult to injury by charging people £15 to come in in their cars is crass.

  25. Pete
    Posted July 19, 2020 at 9:31 am | Permalink

    Give us the vaccine and it won’t be shops that fill up. it will be hospitals and morgues. Perhaps it will be just the intellectually challenged that will sicken and die from the poisons and the rest of us will avoid being forcibly injected. Given the calibre of those that rule I fear the worst.
    The old economy has gone, killed by politicians, bureaucrats and billionaires. My hope that the killers will suffer the consequences of their actions in due course. The shape of the world when the billionaires have worked their evil and the solar minimum and peak oil have had their say remains to be seen but anyone that thinks it will look like the world before 2020 is going to be very disappointed.

    • Posted July 19, 2020 at 11:15 am | Permalink

      Over the years, the increasing numbers of betting shops, charity shops, takeaways and estate agents have probably not helped our high streets. … but a return to the 70s is not an option.

      The future reduction in city centre office workers will add to the pressures.
      So what does the future have in store for our high streets ?
      Do they have to embrace the advantages of out of town shopping and entertainment centres ?
      What will happen to the city centre public transport infrastructure ?
      I’m guessing that we will need some creative thinking from our local authorities.

      • Posted July 19, 2020 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

        ‘Creative thinking from local authorities…’😂😂

    • Fred H
      Posted July 19, 2020 at 7:10 pm | Permalink

      well Pete, the hospitals are no longer a stopping place before a funeral or lifelong impediments, because
      Vaccinations have almost eradicted the following (but some still resist):-
      Rotavirus, meningococcal group B, Pneumococcal infections, diphtheria, hepatitis B, Hib (Haemophilus influenzae type b), polio, tetanus, whooping cough (pertussis), measles, mumps, rubella (german measles), helps protect against – cervical cancer, some mouth and throat (head and neck) cancers, some cancers of the anal and genital areas, it also helps protect against genital warts.

      But over to you – as Dirty Harry said ‘You’ve got to ask yourself one question. Do I feel lucky? ‘

  26. A.Sedgwick
    Posted July 19, 2020 at 9:38 am | Permalink

    The way the pandemic has been handled has accelerated what was coming in our way of life, accelerating the change into months rather than years. The skill will be to embrace the quicker change not Knut it.

  27. Ian @Barkham
    Posted July 19, 2020 at 10:00 am | Permalink

    The project by the politicos of control will hopefully evaporate, or alternatively we will just join the ranks of just another nation that is run by dictators.

    The city center high streets killed themselves years ago, as each of them cloned themselves to be a look-alike of there neighbors. They made themselves irrelevant by becoming ‘MeToo’s’

    What used to be Department Stores are just halls of instore operated concessions of those that are on the same high street. In a nut shell its started out as trading protection, that has removed choice. John Lewis, Debenhams, Army & Navy and so on if you ignore the name on the door they are identical inside, because all they do is rent space to others, and aid the removal of choice. They killed themselves by employing lazy un-inspirational management guided by bean counters.

    Logic is that it is the individual independent enterprises that need to be able to flourish to replace the ‘boring’ ones that no one needs. However, the UK Tax system, red tape regulation, as in everything the political class can get their hands on sets out to get the small guy to finance unequal the larger failing operators.

    The loss in all this is the consumer on many levels. As taxpayers they get to fund the failing, as taxpayers, those that cant afford something get to fund those that can. All because successive governments have themselves been lazy in not protection the taxpayer and choice. Protecting and encouraging choice always keeps momentum

    Under the current parameters the high street is no longer relevant, the long commute is a pointless waste of energy and time. Therefore the big centralized city has bargained itself out of existence

  28. James1
    Posted July 19, 2020 at 10:23 am | Permalink

    We will have a serious reckoning. Coming out of a depression will of necessity ensure that we divest ourselves of much political correctness and wokery nonsense.

  29. Caterpillar
    Posted July 19, 2020 at 10:38 am | Permalink

    In high income countries it is well known that economic growth is associated with city size though with diminishing returns. The UK had one city at scale before the policies of Hancock and Sunak, it now has zero.

    The U.K. has been fighting a losing battle of misdirection of resources to the created dream of owning your own property. (This alongside the selling off of public land and the 1940s and 1960s policies to shrink Birmingham and protect London). For cities to work best people have to live in them and have (short and long term) mobility between them. This requires an economic and cultural support for building high quality, well-maintained, pleasant to live in, vertical rental accommodoation. The Conservative adherence to owning your own small bit of land leads to 1 to 3 storey building, sprawl, commutes and inefficiency. As population grows some of these houses are converted to multi-occupancy with building (and parking) extended to cover as much of the land as planning permits (and often more). Whether split into multiple ownership or rented they do not offer a quality experience for the occupants; in the rental case landlords often cannot maintain these at a high level due to the difficulty in getting a high enough return on the land when it is only built 1 to 3 floors high.

    Cities are needed to maintain high levels of entrepreneurship, innovation and scale for start ups. For this to return/continue/improve the UK needs to escape its current residential bias – improved commuting conditions would help a bit, but is unlikely to be sufficient. There is little indication that Mr Sunak nor the rest of the Govt understand this, there is every indication that their ‘understanding’ is directly opposed to this.

  30. BOF
    Posted July 19, 2020 at 10:44 am | Permalink

    Population replacement in the city centres of our great cities will only accelerate and, like the cities of South Africa, they will lose their relevance, becoming run down with many parts becoming little more than slum areas.

    Business and finance will largely move out to safer less crowded towns in the country and take their spending power with them. Technology will allow them this freedom. This means that the freedom of the car for individual transport will become even more important, not less.

  31. The Prangwizard
    Posted July 19, 2020 at 10:45 am | Permalink

    As I wrote yesterday I was offered a job in London by my employer, a bank, back in 1969. There were perks. I took it and later was moved back out.

    I am now old and rather cynical but if I were young again and asked today if I would go my answer would be ‘no’. Emphatically. I see no future for the city now worth having; it’s not just technology but demographics engineered by our leadership have ruined it and they continue with the same policies while claiming the opposite. They are intent on doing the same to the entirety of England.

    There will be a protected elite in the better parts, the rest will become a wasteland handed over to alien practises and beliefs. Get out while you can.

  32. Ian @Barkham
    Posted July 19, 2020 at 11:32 am | Permalink

    Off topic, but following up on – Refuelling an electric car | Published: July 17,

    Today from Daniel Hannan

    Britain can lead the world in transmuting water into fuel

    A hydrogen revolution could halt our looming over-reliance on China for electric cars, and Britain is well-placed to do it

    2020 https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2020/07/18/britain-can-lead-world-transmuting-water-fuel/

  33. DavidJ
    Posted July 19, 2020 at 11:43 am | Permalink

    LEO McKINSTRY had a great article in the Express this morning:

    “Freedom of speech is under attack like never before”…

    No point in saving any of our cities if that lot will be in control.

  34. Mark B
    Posted July 19, 2020 at 11:51 am | Permalink

    Good afternoon

    The truth is, we really do not know. But I agree with our kind host when he mentions how a big a bit the retail sector has taken, and just that ! The leisure and tourist industries will, I am sure, be the last to recover. All over I am seeing more and more shops beginning to shut. Offices going empty with let signs going up, it really is beginning to look grim. I take not comfort, like many here who warned against the lockdown / house arrest, of what is now happening. The feeble attempts to revive the economy will not work as the government has set in motion a cascade effect of economic decline.

    Johnson saw a moment to puff himself up as a pound shop Churchill, only to end up as a 99p Chamberlain. I know he was ill and badly advised but a calmer head on wise shoulders would not have panicked. And neither would have a Churchill tolerated threats from a Euro Napoleon.

    • Ginty
      Posted July 19, 2020 at 6:14 pm | Permalink

      He’s looking a real liability now.

  35. Everhopeful
    Posted July 19, 2020 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

    So must we sit on the ground to lament the loss of our once great capital city and basically do a Richard 2?
    Or might we expect the govt. who lit the fuse, ignited the cannon, pulled the trigger, pressed the red button, to put right its handy work?

  36. ian
    Posted July 19, 2020 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

    By May 2024 the Tory party would have been in the official office of the government for 32 years out of 45 years and in that time have overseen a big recession in the nineties to which homes and businesses were lost by people and are now overseeing the start of a bigger one, back in 2010 they promised the people that by 2015 the world financial crisis that started here would be over and thing back to normal, it never happened, the crisis is still ongoing as this one starts, one has to wonder how gullible voters are in this country, now they are going to get all they deserve and as for Brexit who knows, anything happens with the Tory party with U-turns all the time as you can see in this crisis now, flip-flopping all the time and now want the councils to take over to and get themselves out from under the mess they have made, it a not me gov nothing to do with me moment.

  37. John E
    Posted July 19, 2020 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

    By way of balancing out the miserable nihilism and anti-vaccine madness here today, I applaud the work of the Oxford and Astra Zeneca teams and will be as close to the front of the queue as I can possibly get for the vaccine as soon as it is available.

  38. ian
    Posted July 19, 2020 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

    So what the next trick up the Tory party shelves, ultra-high inflation by any means to go alongside the money tree while private sector wages will stagnant and that if you have a job at all along with tax rises and council tax through the roof, it the usual plan.

  39. JoolsB
    Posted July 19, 2020 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

    Well an example could be set by making all parliamentarians return to work immediately. Forget the summer recess. Next the bloated pampered state sector could also be ordered likewise. Hopefully others will gradually start to follow suit.

    Reply MPs have been working throughout this year, at home during the first part of lock down and then at Westminster as well. Email volume and case load has been very high for obvious reasons

    • JoolsB
      Posted July 19, 2020 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

      No doubt but what I meant John was they could be seen to be back at work by returning to the Commons. Boris is trying to get everyone to go back, what better example. He can’t dictate to the private sector where they work from but he could start with parliamentarians and the public sector.

      Reply we have been back in the Commons for some weeks.

      • Fred H
        Posted July 19, 2020 at 8:01 pm | Permalink

        Sir John – -you do have our sympathy.

  40. ed2
    Posted July 19, 2020 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

    All this chaos and destruction has been done intentionally to restructure the society and economy, more is to come, much more.

    • Everhopeful
      Posted July 19, 2020 at 6:48 pm | Permalink

      Yep! Dedevelopment.

  41. David Brown
    Posted July 19, 2020 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

    Having worked in London for a while I now loath the place. Too many Union flags flying and a feeling it lives in the past.
    Outside of the EU its status is significantly reduced by comparison to Berlin or Paris.
    International tourists want to visit London and then on to Europe. Leaving the EU has made this more difficult due to permissions required, so its a big loss to the tourist sector.
    With immigration considered toxic London influence will further.
    Its suggested that international flights into London may never recover so it begs the question if one London airport needs to close.
    London needs to be much more diverse and less so called British, big problem is too many people 70 and upwards voted for Brexit using rose tinted glasses yet have signed the death for London as an international city

    • Sea Warrior
      Posted July 19, 2020 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

      London is more diverse than most Brits want.

    • Posted July 19, 2020 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

      Oh yes! People save up for years and fly halfway around the world to London to see a Mardi Gras. The last thing they want to see is the Changing of the Guard or HM! Britain is far too British and should repent, maybe all the British should be shipped out so the nice people like maskless Kahn can attract more tourists?
      Any other good suggestions?

    • mancunius
      Posted July 19, 2020 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

      I doubt very much that you have been living in or anywhere London, let alone ‘for a while’, if you find it has too many ‘Union flags’, or believe it ‘needs to be much more diverse’ and ‘less so called British.’
      What foreign visitors notice and remark upon with some surprise, is how many people and flags of other nations are to be found in London. Their constant complaint is that London is so full of foreigners that they can rarely find a British person anywhere in the city – on public transport, on the street, or in a museum. No wonder: the resident population is now only 44.9% British.
      Berlin???! A hundred years ago, maybe. Not today. Even the most patriotic and blinkered Berliner (there are plenty) would not venture to compare Berlin with truly cosmopolitan cities such as London, Paris, or New York. Having a large and vociferous minority from Asia Minor does not make a city multicultural or even diverse: Berlin is neither.

      As you would know if you talked to any foreign visitor, the UK has astonishingly low barriers to entry. E-passport gates and electronic visa waivers make tourist or business entry a simpler matter than in EU countries. It was probably never easier or faster (or cheaper) to enter the UK as a tourist than it is today.

      You’re the one with rose-tinted pro-EU glasses. Any reasonable man or woman witnessing the argy-bargy going on this weekend in Room 5 of the Berlaymont will feel only a profound sense of relief that we have no further part in that unseemly squabble between continental nations.

    • Anonymous
      Posted July 19, 2020 at 6:11 pm | Permalink

      Nothing to do with a disease then.

    • Fred H
      Posted July 19, 2020 at 6:57 pm | Permalink

      cobblers – — don’t repair shoes any more.

    • matthu
      Posted July 19, 2020 at 8:29 pm | Permalink

      Most people would agree that any threat to London is likely to come from permanent lifestyle or corporate changes catalyzed by government precautions introduced as a result of (either sound or unsound) coronavirus predictions.

      Yet you make it abundantly clear that you personally believe that anything bad that might happen to London can be directly traced back to the democratic decision to Brexit, despite the fact that none of the fear-mongering at the time has so far proved remotely accurate.

      Many of those who voted remain at the last referendum have simply shown themselves to be stuck in a rut and unable to move on. However, their predicament pales into insignificance when compared to those whose jobs and lifestyles are in the process of being lost as a result of lockdown, or those whose mental or physical health are being adversely affected as a result of lockdown.

      • matthu
        Posted July 20, 2020 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

        Any reason why this post in stuck in moderation, Sir John?

    • Barbara
      Posted July 19, 2020 at 9:35 pm | Permalink

      What absolute twaddle.

    • Mike Wilson
      Posted July 20, 2020 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

      Outside of the EU its status is significantly reduced by comparison to Berlin or Paris.

      Errr, that’s nonsense.

      International tourists want to visit London and then on to Europe.

      Err, that’s made up nonsense.

      Leaving the EU has made this more difficult due to permissions required, so its a big loss to the tourist sector.

      It is no more difficult now for people from outside the EU to visit the EU that it was before we left. As far as I know, we are not putting up barriers to tourism from outside the EU. So, again, your comment is complete nonsense.

      With immigration considered toxic

      Immigration is not considered toxic. Well, maybe by you, but not by most people. That said, a lot of people wonder where the houses, schools etc. will magically appear from to deal with high levels of immigration. This is not, OF COURSE, an indication that people think immigration is toxic – merely that it needs to be managed. So, again, you are talking nonsense.

      Its suggested that international flights into London may never recover so it begs the question if one London airport needs to close.

      Who has made this unfounded suggestion? And, if air traffic reduces forever, the good people who live around Heathrow will celebrate as LGW and Stansted can take more of the load. Get a grip, stop talking nonsense.

      London needs to be much more diverse and less so called British, big problem is too many people 70 and upwards voted for Brexit using rose tinted glasses yet have signed the death for London as an international city

      There are no British people in London. It is already about as diverse as anywhere can be. What is an ‘international city’. Surely a city, by definition, is in one nation. It must be, therefore, a ‘national city’. What else could it be? Get a grip.

    • a-tracy
      Posted July 21, 2020 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

      David Brown – where are all the “many Union Flags flying”?

      “a feeling it lives in the past” in what way, the last time I went to London it felt very modern, very fast-paced, the dlr was super and quick and clean and this should be run out to more areas, as for the people that live there I’ve never such a variety of cultures.

      “International tourists want to visit London and then on to Europe?” How exactly does Brexit affect this for vacationers if the UK asks for no extra permissions as now? Whenever I go to France or Germany I have my passport checked and go through security even on the train?

      “it begs the question if one London airport needs to close.” I would like Heathrow residents would welcome this, no?

      “London needs to be much more diverse and less so called British” How can it be any more diverse? What would you destroy now to make it less British?

  42. acorn
    Posted July 19, 2020 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

    We are getting to the point where Downing Street is realising it has got to start laying off its blame load onto other arms length institutions; hence, it is devolving lock-down powers to Local Government to lay-off its virus cock-up blame; and increasingly, it will blame the business community in general, for failing to take advantage of the massive opportunities a “no-deal” Brexit is making available to it. Sadly, the UK voting population will lap it up and vote Conservative. Education would have been a wonderful thing; alas, too late now.

  43. Iain Gill
    Posted July 19, 2020 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

    Just been into a major city, the access roads towards the centre have had their speed limits reduced to silly levels, what were 70 roads were dropped to 40 a number of years ago have now gone down to 30 accompanied with speed cameras for revenue generation.

    These limits are silly for lots of reasons but will discourage anyone driving towards that city.

    The country is being run by mad cliques and social manipulation fashions.

  44. Everhopeful
    Posted July 19, 2020 at 6:47 pm | Permalink

    If the govt. has killed the goose that lays the golden eggs….what will it do without all the high earners’ tax contributions?
    How will all the benes get paid? Who’ll pay for all those cross channel boats? How about paying for the NHS ( clap,clap)?
    All those hot little printing presses will be working overtime, churning out yet more funny money.
    And who will pay for all this at the end of the day? Why, WE will of course!

  45. Javelin
    Posted July 19, 2020 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

    I have worked from home 2/3 days per week for the past 10 years for investment banks. One bank in Canary wharf did t have enough seats. Another bank simply let go of half their offices around Liverpool street.

    The centre of the city is known as the Central Business District (CBD). In London the investment banks take the best offices in the centre of the CBD.

    When less people work in central London the rents will fall and companies in the periphery of the City, such as accountants, information suppliers and consultancies will move in. It’s not a case of city centres emptying. The market/money will simply move companies from peripheries to the centre. This ripple effect will bring people into the city centres.

    Some undesirable offices right on the periphery will be turned into residential properties or new businesses will be formed.

  46. Fred H
    Posted July 19, 2020 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

    OFF TOPIC.
    EU leaders trying to hammer out a huge post-coronavirus economic recovery plan are now in an unscheduled third day of a testy summit in Brussels. Some member states believe the proposed €750bn ($857bn; £680bn) package is too large and should come as loans, rather than grants. Austria said there was still a “way to go”, while Hungary’s PM lashed out at his Dutch counterpart. Germany’s Angela Merkel said a deal might not be reached on Sunday.
    Member states are split between those hit hardest by the outbreak, and those concerned about the costs of the recovery plan. Some northern nations like the Netherlands and Sweden have balked at the package, arguing it should take the forms of loans not grants.
    But nations including Italy and Spain are desperate to revive their shattered economies, and have accused the EU of not doing enough to help countries hit by the pandemic. Italy in particular was one of the earliest European countries to suffer an outbreak and has recorded 35,000 deaths – one of the highest tolls in the world.

    • Irene
      Posted July 20, 2020 at 4:43 am | Permalink

      Excellent report lifted from the BBC News website there – word for word.

      • Fred H
        Posted July 20, 2020 at 7:02 am | Permalink

        forgot to credit BBC — I cut and paste for accuracy and lack of bias !!! (with the BBC surely not).

    • margaret howard
      Posted July 20, 2020 at 7:07 am | Permalink

      Fred H

      Proper democracy in action. Pity we are not part of it any longer helping to shape it. Instead we have to do what America tells us now.

    • Posted July 20, 2020 at 8:18 am | Permalink

      And thank God the UK, which would have been in line TO PAY €80 billion – has escaped by the skin of its teeth thanks to the ‘wisdom of unlettered men’.

  47. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted July 19, 2020 at 11:39 pm | Permalink

    A lot of employees have found working from home congenial – and some employers accept it as long there is (say) one team meeting a week, which might be by Zoom.

    I doubt if the use of public transport will rise to its previous level, particularly since that would risk a resurgence of COVID-19. The 7-day average number of COVID-19 cases per day reached its nadir on 7th July and has since gently risen. The government should think about that and perhaps ban some economically useless activities, such as participating in religious ceremonies where there is singing and sermonising. The majority of people in this country are atheists, agnostics or vague theists. They see no need for collective worship and resent the God squad putting their health at risk.

    GDP has been reduced by about 20% over 4 months, suggesting a reduction of about 7% in this financial year – similar to the reduction in the 200/9 recession. There is going to be some unemployment, so we may as well get it over and done with, rather than continuing to ruin the UK’s fiscal position to no good purpose.

  48. Mary M.
    Posted July 20, 2020 at 7:06 am | Permalink

    ‘The retail sector has definitely taken a big hit from mass defections to on line forced by lock down. Not all of that loss will be won back as and when we return to “normal”.’

    You’re right, Sir John, it won’t.

    Until this proposed compulsory wearing of masks in shops is dropped, we won’t be going back. There is no scientific evidence that masks protect us from bacteria in all situations. A mask can even increase the spread of germs. (Taking it off and putting it on between shops? Dealing with a sneeze?)

    Until recently, Boris trusted us to take responsibility and to make up our own minds.

    One of the positives of the ‘New Normal’ is that everyone has been made aware of the importance of keeping their germs to themselves. Most people now wouldn’t go into shops if they felt unwell.

    Many of us are counting on you to have a word in Boris’s ear, including an elderly friend who is very deaf. She needs to watch people’s lips to ‘hear’ them. Aged 93, she is still living on her own. She never got into IT, so can’t do online shopping herself. Friends will help of course, but she wants to remain independent. It is important that she can continue to engage with people in her local shops.

    Boris is lucky he won’t have to lip-read you.

    • APL
      Posted July 21, 2020 at 4:40 am | Permalink

      Mary M: “There is no scientific evidence that masks protect us from bacteria in all situations.”

      None of the masks I see people wearing have a seal around the edge of the mask. A fraction of the air being breathed out may go straight through the mask, but the majority of it will escape unfiltered around the edge of the mask.

      But then the surgical type masks are not intended to capture virus, the masks surgeons wear are intended to stop spittle and moisture, particles of the last meal the surgeon ate from finding their way into the exposed abdomen of a patient on the operating table.

  49. APL
    Posted July 21, 2020 at 4:35 am | Permalink

    JR: “There are those who say this will be temporary.”

    And there are those that say the economic depression ~20% loss of GDP is the fault of the administration you support.

    That is all we had come to hope for from a Tory administration. Economic competence. In three months your leader, supported by yourself, has destroyed that reputation.

    Your party and this administration has displayed gross negligence and proved itself unfit to govern.

  50. a-tracy
    Posted July 26, 2020 at 10:18 am | Permalink

    Well I ventured out to a big mall this Saturday for the first time in nearly five months, oh my! I won’t be repeating that experience. A very unpleasant afternoon. You can’t try anything on so the returns queue at certain boutiques was longer than the queue to get in the store just buy online girls and boys.

    Bulky security men at the entrance signalling to everyone to put on masks or halt; once inside masks were pulled off or pulled down onto peoples necks or worn under the nose or as hair bands, most teenage children didn’t wear them and revelled in running around into peoples personal space. Children of the most at risk groups and I suggest you don’t have to look very far to see why groups are spiking in cases.

    There were signs all over the floor every two meters with arrows and eye level signs advising people to walk in the new one way system – Most people didn’t bother, it was chaos, we were laughing at the complete collapse of the rules, people just paying lip service and shops and the mall giving up. The ‘Karen rule-follower’ in me just wanted to point to the floor or turn people around but instead that will be the last time I venture out for a long while.

    Boris and the government are making so many alarming mistakes right now it is getting frightening:
    1. Allowing flights in daily from very high untested areas full of covid19 bringing new varient strains in.
    2. This false signalling talk about gloves when we’ve been told for months as key workers it is safer to use gel because you can keep your hands washed and sterile better than gloves.
    3. Setting rules that are all flagrantly broken and not supported.
    4. Holiday makers jetting off again to high risk areas to return with a second wave whilst expecting Brits at home to behave differently to those on the Continent.

    I’m getting mightily sick of it now and I dont believe a word your governments scientific advisors utter.

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

  • John’s Books

  • Email Alerts

    You can sign up to receive John's blog posts by e-mail by entering your e-mail address in the box below.

    Enter your email address:

    Delivered by FeedBurner

    The e-mail service is powered by Google's FeedBurner service. Your information is not shared.

  • Map of Visitors

    Locations of visitors to this page