So London is a boom town. That was the message a couple of weeks ago when the figures from the 2011 Census was released. London has now got 8.2 Million people, which by any account is extraordinary. In the last ten years, the Capital’s population has shot up by 800,000 souls. Now, if you compare it to a city in the developing world, that is tiny. But in a European country such as the UK, a figure like that into a city which is not building the infrastructure to support such growth is extraordinary.
Anecdotal evidence was in support of this population rise. Public transport has got busier, queues at everything whether shops or attractions have risen and most importantly, even in recession property prices (lease and buying) have dramatically increased while conversions of existing property into smaller sub-dwellings (as current building laws are so arcane and perverse that nothing new is constructed in London) has continued unabated.
There are good and bad things about London’s growth, a population spurt fueled by higher birth and migration rates into the city.
First the good. More people means more business. I grew up in London in the 1980’s and it is not nice to be in a stagnant city. The socio-economic boom in this city since the 1990’s has made London a truly unique place within the UK, and t be honest, a pretty exciting city if viewed from a cultural/artistic backdrop. Economomically, if you are winning, this is the city to be in. There is no better place to make money, and no place on Earth that you can squander it at a quicker rate.
But there is also a flip side to this huge demographic bounce. Like all booming cities, government has struggled to keep pace with the increasing number. That has meant that infrastructure has struggled to keep pace. In the last decade (in no small part thanks to the Olympics) has got a wealth of new rail lines, and the building of Crossrail looks set to seal a leap in transport. But still, it will not be enough. London’s air capacity is struggling and even our water system cannot cope with the increase in numbers.
And then there is the people story. For every winner in this town, there are ten’s that are struggling with daily life. Now, that is one of the flaws that comes with he benefits of a capitalist system. I am not for one minute advocating some socialist land of workers paradise, those things clearly do not work outside the minds of an intellectual. But something has to be addressed when the gap between rich and poor is so vast. The creation of a virtual slave society to service an in-built wealth machine is not healthy on an individual level nor is it good on a wider social level. The increase in numbers has fulled this discrepancy.
Still, life is not going to change because of one blog post. London will continue to grow, inequality will rise alongside the amazing expansion of the city’s cultural and wealth creating side. At the moment, I am just observing, I see the facts. What happens in the future however, how London will cope with its ever increasing population, the success and problems created by it are for other people to shape…