CONFIDENCE is returning to the streets of London, says Mayor of London Boris Johnson, who yesterday launched the High Street Fund to help small businesses affected by the riots with “immediate cash flow assistance”.
“In August, we have been reminded of some truths about London,” said the mayor as he launched the fund at City Hall yesterday. “That there is a small minority who, given the chance, will take part in acts of mindless violence and theft.”
The funding pot so far contains £3m in cash grants plus support services from private sector benefactors including Barclays, Deloitte, Lloyds Banking Group and BP – perhaps a shoo-in to make the list, given the oil giant’s past form in cleaning up after a crisis.
In addition, there is a £5,000 commitment from the Mayor of London. “Boris has put money in the scheme,” declared Sir William Castell, the chairman of the High Street Fund. “I wish I had put money in the scheme,” replied Boris, flushing a becoming shade of pink, before clarifying: “The GLA has put money into the High Street Fund.”
So will Johnson dig deep to make a personal contribution? “When you put it like that, of course I will,” said the mayor – although he moved swiftly on to the next question when The Capitalist pressed him on exactly how large that generous donation would be.
UNDER THE BRIDGE
SO THERE are clearly no hard feelings between Johnson and Castell, after the Mayor’s office rejected the “compelling” £1bn bid by Castell’s charitable foundation the Wellcome Trust to redevelop the Olympic Park after the Games.
The Wellcome Trust, which is chaired by Castell (right), earlier this month declared it is “disappointed” the government and the Mayor of London didn’t want to take its vision for the Olympic Park further. But there they were, side by side at the press conference, united in putting the past behind them.
“We have no further interest in the Olympic site,” said Castell conclusively – although he did ruminate on what could have been. “We would have had 500 acres of freehold in that part of London, including health and education services, to be a long-term asset to boost that part of London,” he mused.