This week I had the pleasure to join Sir Bob Neill MP and Andrew Carter, CEO Centre for Cities, to speak as Vice Chair of Policy on behalf of the City of London Corporation. I spoke about our ambition for an economically diversified Square Mile, improving footfall and spend by making the City an even more attractive place to visit, live, work, connect and do business.

My speech:

Being invited to speak in Parliament is always an honour, so I’m delighted to be here at this joint event between the City of London Corporation and the Industry and Parliament Trust

Luckily my contribution is written down, as I hope that tonight I fare better than back in 2005 when I spoke for the first time in Parliament when I gave evidence – as a junior policy advisor for the Equal Opportunities Commission – to the House of Lords Sub-Committee G on the creation of a European Gender Equality Institute

Being Dutch I was being too honest (or direct) about my assessment of the Governments position, and my boss had
to hastily write a letter to ‘clarify’ my evidence when the next day the office of the Minister called to complain…

For those who may not know me, I’m Tijs Broeke, elected Councillor and Vice Chair of Policy at the City of London Corporation.

We are the governing body of the Square Mile and the voice of the United Kingdom’s financial and professional services sector.

It is in both these roles that we have a particular interest in tonight’s discussion: reimagining cities post-pandemic

In the Square Mile, two years of lockdowns, remote working, and changing business needs meant that many City SMEs were struggling to survive without the traditional worker footfall and related spending.

Even today, with the pandemic hopefully having past, worker footfall is hovering at 75 per cent of pre-pandemic levels. For many of our 22,000 businesses, the vast majority being SMEs, they cannot survive on 75 per cent of previous business this is not sustainable.

The City Corporation needed to find a way to make the Square Mile more attractive to increase footfall and increase spending across workers, visitors, and residents to offset footfall that was lost because of the pandemic.

The Policy Chairman – our de facto political leader – Chris Hayward, recentlty outlined a flagship policy for this
economic recovery, called: Destination City.

The bold ambition is for an economically diversified Square Mile, improving footfall and spend by making the City a more attractive place. That means:
o reimagining our offer
o revitalising our streets, enhancing our public realm
o reinvigorating our businesses.

Backed by a 2.5-million-pound annual investment, Destination City builds on a long track record of culture
investment in the Square Mile.

The City Corporation is the fourth largest funder of heritage and cultural activities in the UK.

For example together with the GLA supporting the Museum of London – as it moves to a new home at
Smithfield – and funding the Barbican Arts centre

We invest over £130m every year in culture.

In October, we launched Destination City with our first event – The Golden Key – which featured over 200 performers with festival fairs and a spectacular fire finale.

TFL and audience counting data suggested we welcomed over 30,000 visitors to the City, achieving our target.

Partner organisations, such as the Museum of London, also did well. The Museum had its busiest day of the year, with over 3,000 visitors, well exceeding its target of 1,750 people.

This bold vision will only be achieved through partnerships, which is why I’m grateful for the opportunity to speak to you all today. We want to work with all partners to make the City as welcoming as possible to a diverse audience.

However, Destination City is more than events, it is an enduring transformation:

one that animates our unrivalled heritage and history

celebrates our world-renowned arts and culture
and elevates our attractiveness as a global destination.

So, what will this transformative long-term vision deliver?

It will be good for businesses including SMEs, with more people spending more time and money in the City, enabling businesses to thrive and grow.

It will be good for people – whether workers, visitors, or residents – with greater offerings across culture, leisure,
sport, and more.

And it will be good for London, with the City playing its part in strengthening the capital’s attractiveness and leisure offer.

Exceeding our 30,000 visitors’ target was an excellent start, but it is just that, the start. This is the beginning of a multi- year project.

I believe that this vision for an economically diversified Square Mile – using the assets of our past to protect our
future – will help us create a stronger, more successful, more enduring City.

And particularly during these incredibly difficult economic circumstances, we need to give London a resounding vote of confidence as the place to be.