During last year, as part of my regular contact with constituents, I asked more than 4,000 people living close to Hyde Park for their views on tourism in central London.
Though it is not really possible to present a comprehensive report from the responses, I believe that the anecdotal evidence is useful data for consideration in planning London’s future appeal to tourists from all over the world. Having also attended the recent launch of London’s 2012 Olympic Bid I think that much has to be done by London’s Mayor, its councils and Londoners themselves to allow our capital to maintain its position as one of the world’s greatest cities and give us a real chance of hosting the Olympics.
The responses from my constituents, as ever, produced really valuable personal insights and bright, new ideas for the benefit of our Capital and it was a pleasure to read how many people continue to be passionate about London.
For most residents a major consideration is that they see the cost of living in London continuing to be so expensive that ways should be found to reduce its travel, hotel and dining costs. So many comments were made about the prevalence of anti-social crime that demands came in thick and fast for more effort to be made about keeping our streets clean and reducing graffiti. The blight of aggressive begging also came in for a regular mention with many requests that beggars should not be allowed on the streets. Again it is more of a problem for people who live in the heart of our city centres because they have to run the gauntlet of such behaviour on a daily basis.
Another demand and one that I am sure resounds throughout our nation was that more police should be seen on the streets but it was also clear from the response that most local residents feel that there is much less to fear from overseas tourists than from London’s own population. Once again it is the problem of anti-social behaviour that undermines life today and many people are concerned that London’s long and proud reputation as a city of politeness and consideration is disappearing.
The overriding feeling that came across was that London is a city of great diversity in its history, culture and sport and we should be proud of this. There were many other positive ideas such as lighting up more public buildings at night and the provision of more booths for low-cost theatre tickets on the day. No one on the other hand is proud of our public transport and there were a number of anecdotal mentions about how we could seriously contemplate making an Olympics Bid when our Underground system was in such a dire state.
Visitors to London are to be welcomed but, as my constituents have noted to me, the level of rubbish and litter that can be left after a cultural event, pop concert or demonstration in and around a central area like Hyde Park is much, much higher than years ago. It seems that in many cases, especially amongst younger folk, the practice of taking one’s litter home has fallen by the wayside. A clean city is a city to be enjoyed and I believe a strong initiative towards a cleaner London should be one taken by us all now without waiting to see what happens to our Olympics Bid.