The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has today (29 June) appointed Rajesh Agrawal as his deputy mayor for business.
Sadiq Khan has tasked Rajesh Agrawal with championing London’s interests following the EU referendum, and protecting jobs and growth while the negotiation process takes place.
The Mayor is calling for Britain and London to remain part of the European single market, and for the capital to be granted more autonomy in order to safeguard its business interests. This includes greater powers over skills, infrastructure, housing and planning.
Rajesh Agrawal, a fintech entrepreneur and innovator, is the founder and CEO of Xendpay, an international money transfer service, and RationalFX, an online foreign exchange service - both of which have grown into globally successful businesses.
Born and brought up in Indore, India, Rajesh arrived in London in 2001, and grew a two-person enterprise working from one small office into a multi-million pound business based in London, with offices in Birmingham, France and Spain.
Sadiq Khan said: “I’ve pledged to be the most business-friendly Mayor that London has ever had, and it is now more vital than ever that we act robustly from City Hall to protect our economy from the current uncertainty.
"London must stay in the single market and be given more powers to ensure we can remain competitive, in order to attract the global enterprise that London’s prosperity relies on. Having arrived in London equipped with the ambition to succeed, Rajesh has created a multi-million pound business from scratch and knows first-hand the challenges that our business leaders face, and what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur. I know that Rajesh is the best person for the job of protecting jobs and growth in London as we deal with the fallout of the referendum.”
Rajesh Agrawal said: “Having run my own global businesses, I know how important it is that London remains welcoming to European and international trade. I stepped on a plane for the first time 15 years ago to make the journey to London, and found a city that welcomed me with open arms and didn’t make me feel like a stranger. This openness to talent and enterprise must not change as a result of the referendum.
“I share Sadiq’s belief that a thriving economy is critical to ensure that all Londoners can share in our great city’s future success. The Mayor and I are determined to build a coalition that ensures the needs of business and financial services are at the fore over the coming months of negotiations with the EU. My first priority will be to listen and engage with businesses, to hear their concerns and deliver reassurance.
“These are extraordinary times and with this comes clear opportunities to reshape our city’s business landscape. We must champion London’s business at home and abroad, whilst equipping our young people for success, tackling rising business and housing costs and securing critical future infrastructure investment.”Read more
One of The Prince's Charities, The British Asian Trust, the UK's leading organisation for British Asian philanthropy, hosted a special evening on June 20 to observe the Islamic month of Ramadan. The event, which featured a traditional Iftar dinner, took place at the prestigious The Savoy and was attended by some of The Trust's key trustees, supporters and ambassadors. The night highlighted the important work of the Trust's Ramadan appeal 'Mind, Body and Sew' for vulnerable women in Pakistan.
Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, attended the evening as the Guest of Honour and addressed the audience about the essential charitable work The British Asian Trust is undertaking across South Asia, as well as the importance of Ramadan amongst the Islamic community in the UK. The event was also attended by British boxing champion Amir Khan, music producer Naughty Boy and BBC Sport presenter Reshmin Chowdhury amongst others.
Sadiq Khan says: "This is my first Ramadan as the Mayor of London, and it has been a great opportunity to bring together all communities across the city. It has been especially humbling to see the Muslim community making incredible efforts to support charities and philanthropy throughout the month. The British Asian Trust in particular has continued to do outstanding work - their contribution to the South Asian community globally over the last nine years has been exceptional and as a British Asian myself, I am proud to see so many influential Londoners supporting them. Ramadan Mubarak."
Richard Hawkes, CEO of the British Asian Trust adds: "Ramadan is traditionally a time for extra giving and goodwill and we have created a campaign during this month to highlight our work to positively impact the lives of some of the most vulnerable women in Pakistan. Tonight's Iftar dinner brings together some of our most prominent donors and supporters to highlight our work in Pakistan and we are delighted to be joined by the Mayor Of London, a proud British Pakistani himself, to share our message and help raise funds to change as many lives as possible in South Asia."
The event was hosted by BBC News presenter and Trust ambassador Asad Ahmad, who last month travelled to Pakistan, where he met some of the country's most vulnerable women to learn more about The British Asian Trust's work upon their lives. The presenter provided a first-hand account of his visit to highlight the importance of the Trust's fundraising appeal during this campaign.
During Ramadan this year, The British Asian Trust has launched the 'Mind, Body and Sew' appeal to highlight the life-changing work and raise funds to help give more women a hand up instead of a hand out to ensure they can secure a sustainable livelihood for themselves and their families.Read more
To mark the 350th anniversary of the Great Fire of London and the opening of a new experience at the London Dungeon, the visitor attraction asked Great British Bake Off winner, cookery writer and baker of Her Majesty The Queen's 90th birthday cake, Nadiya Hussain, to come up with a recipe for a celebratory loaf. And this morning, the hugely popular cook, surprised passers-by on London's South Bank with a 1666 style sampling of her fire inspired bread, which will be served to guests every morning at the Dungeon during its new Escape the Great Fire show's opening week (21-29 May).
Helping Nadiya dish out her Great Fire of London Loaf from a pop up bread stall was another famous Royal Baker, 'Thomas Farriner of Pudding Lane', who is taking a short leave of absence from final rehearsals for the new show at the nearby Dungeon.
"I'm a massive fan of the London Dungeon and have had a lot of fun creating this recipe", commented Nadiya. "They asked me to be inspired by fire so I thought about the colours of fire - red when it's burning and the black of the resulting ashes. I've created a ring loaf combining two distinctive breads - an outer circle of punchy pimenton bread laced with smoky, red paprika and an inner poppy seed bread utilising crunchy jet black poppy seeds to resemble ash.
"I hope those who get to taste it at the Dungeon next week will enjoy it, and that people will bake it at home too. It's a straightforward recipe; the trickiest part is combining the two breads to make one striking loaf. It goes really well with garlic mayonnaise, or you might try the pimenton bread with Red Leicester cheese or a dark chocolate coffee ganache or the poppy seed with a zingy white chocolate and lemon dip."
"We wanted to do something special for the Great Fire's anniversary and as it started in a bakery, bread seemed to be a natural link," explained General Manager of The London Dungeon, Steve Blackburn. “And as it started in a Royal Baker’s bakery, who better to create it than a modern '’Royal Baker"? Maybe it will take the heat off Thomas Farriner, the man held responsible for one of the worst disasters in history!
"Guests can sample Nadiya's bread during the opening week of our new Escape the Great Fire Show - that's if they escape the flames and smoke! It's going to be a sizzling experience conjuring up the panic of the city as the fire wreaks destruction over a terrifying three days. And it will also be on the menu during a special Art of Dining lates event in June."
Nadiya's recipe can be found in full on www.thedungeons.com/london along with full details of the Escape the Great Fire Show.Read more
BY Itrat Bashir
London Mayoral Elections are just around the corner and if the recent polls, conducted by ComRes on the behalf of the ITC and LBC, are accurate then London will make a history by electing its first Muslim mayor on May 5.
The Labour candidate, Sadiq Khan is on course to get elected as the first Muslim Mayor of London, but Conservative candidate Zac Goldsmith is not that far behind in the polls. According to the survey, ‘Sadiq Khan remains ahead of Zac Goldsmith in the race to be Mayor of London’. This only reaffirmed the poll carried out by a major survey firm YouGov last month that placed Khan ahead of Goldsmith, and thus he is likely candidate to replace Boris Johnson.
According to the ComRes poll, “the Labour candidate received 44 percent of first round preferences, two points higher than in the last ComRes poll for ITV News and LBC in March. Zac Goldsmith is on 37 percent, two points lower. While these differences are within the margin of error, it supports the trend that Khan is ahead with a month to go. After second preferences have been re-allocated, Khan leads Goldsmith 55 percent to 45 percent”.
Interestingly, in the polls the Londoners found Khan a more passionate candidate than his main rival Goldsmith; 39 percent perceive the son of a Pakistani immigrant a passionate person as compared to 31 percent believed that this applied to the posh kid of London. However, the polls suggested that ‘there is little difference in the perception of Goldsmith’s and Khan’s characters, with similar proportions of Londoners saying both candidates are capable, extreme, trustworthy and boring’.
Over the past weeks, both candidates have intensified their election campaigns to the extent of making statements that go beyond the issues (housing, transport, etc.) cared by the Londoners.
Feeling the need to capture the Asian votes and at the same time neutralize the advantage Khan has in the Asian community for being an Asian Muslim himself, the conservative party sent out leaflets in Urdu, Hindi, Punjabi, Bangla and Mandarin languages to pitch their candidate.
Moreover, Goldsmith indulged in a dangerous game of implicitly labeling Khan of having links with Islamic extremists and calling him ‘radical and divisive’. Referring to his campaign for a British citizen, Babar Ahmad, to be tried in the UK for terrorism offences, rather than extradited to the US, he accused Khan for ‘giving platform, oxygen and cover’ to extremists. Again, in another incident, he accused his main rival candidate for sharing a platform with ‘rigid cleric’ Suliman Gani, an imam from Khan’s Tooting constituency, something which was also alluded to by the Prime Minister in Wednesday’s Prime Minister’s Questions.
It seems that the Conservatives are trying hard to convince Londoners that the British capital is not safe under his leadership. A senior Cabinet member, Michael Fallon also launched an attack on the Tooting MP saying he was ‘unfit’ to be a mayor of London for having shared a platform with radicals. The Defence Secretary called him “Labour lackey who speaks alongside extremists”.
In response, Khan accused Goldsmith of giving hype to Islamophobia to his advantage. On twitter, he maintained that he will be a mayor of all Londoners and security of London is one of his top priorities. He saw the recent attacks by his opponents as desperate measures to win the elections.
In Khan’s defence, a former Labour cabinet minister, Yvette Cooper lashed out at the Conservatives. In her recent article, she said that “the Goldsmith campaign is increasingly resorting to disgraceful, divisive tactics as the polls show the Tories falling further behind. Zac Goldsmith’s dog-whistle is becoming a racist scream.”
Meanwhile, to win over the votes of the Pakistani community in London, Goldsmith turned to charisma of his sister’s former husband Imran Khan. The former Pakistani cricket legend and chief of Pakistan Tehreek Insaaf (PTI) has a huge following among the British Pakistani diaspora. Thus, during his previous visit to London in March, Imran Khan was seen with Goldsmith campaigning for the election in the Pakistani dominated areas.
Imran Khan even twitted to endorse Goldsmith’s mayoral bid. He said, “Zac Goldsmith is running for Mayor of London. He is an honourable man with strong convictions and compassion. Zac is a man of integrity with a commitment to justice. He has the leadership capabilities to make a great mayor.”
Meanwhile, the latest move by the Green Party of not officially endorsing either the candidates of the Conservative and Labour parties could give an edge to Goldsmith. Following its meeting last Tuesday, the London Federation of Green Parties announced that it cannot make a positive recommendation for either Khan or Goldsmith as an option for green voter’s second preference in the election for mayor. It was expected that the Green Party would support Labour by recommending Khan as second preference.
Interestingly, no Mayor of London has ever won a majority vote on first preferences and in three of the four previous elections London Green Party decided to recommend that its supporters back Ken Livingstone – as an Independent in 2000 and as the Labour candidate in 2008 and 2012 – as the best choice for the second preference votes of its supporters.
In a statement, the Federation said, “Unfortunately, neither Zac Goldsmith nor Sadiq Khan has ruled out major road building, which would create more congestion and pollution. Nor have they ruled out airport expansion, which will make noise, pollution and climate change worse. Despite their promises to act on London disastrous housing market, neither the candidates are offering specific promises to reverse the proposed loss of 7,000 council homes from demolition schemes already in the planning pipeline. These backward steps are unacceptable.”
Sian Berry, Green candidate for Mayor of London, said that she knows her supporters will have their own thoughts about who will get their second preference vote. “However, Goldsmith and Khan have both failed to provide the guarantees that they will not make a bad situation worse in London either by increasing pollution with new roads and expanded airports or making the housing crisis even worse with the loss of thousands of council homes in estate demolitions,” she added.
With just over two weeks to go until the Londoners go to the ballots, the campaign will definitely further intensify. If Khan and Goldsmith want to cross the finishing line with triumph, then they need show sincerity in resolving the problems of Londoners rather than making the election campaign a theatrical stage for mudslinging.Read more
London's first-time buyers will need a salary of over £100,000 per year by 2020 to afford a typical starter home
Typical first time buyers in London will need to earn over £100,000 a year by 2020, new research by housing and homelessness charity Shelter shows. This is an increase of over a quarter on the £80k needed for a typical first time buyer’s mortgage today.
On top of this, a typical deposit will be £138,000 to keep up with rocketing house prices in the capital, which are projected to rise to £558,000 over the next four years.
The research looked at the salary and deposit needed for the average first time buyer today, and calculated what they would be in 2020 if they grew in line with projected increases in house prices.
These figures come as no surprise given that, over the last five years, the country’s severe housing shortage has seen house prices rise fifteen times faster than wages in London. In central borough Westminster currently, the average house price is around £1.1 million pounds, a growth of 67% in the last five years. Compared to this, the average salary of a worker in the same area is around £42K per year, a figure which has actually dropped by 7% over the same period.
Shelter is warning that, unless the next Mayor commits to building homes that people on ordinary incomes can actually afford, the situation is only likely to get worse.
Campbell Robb, Shelter’s Chief Executive, said: “When house prices are increasing fifteen times faster than the average wage, it’s no wonder Londoners on ordinary incomes are being locked out of a home of their own.
“With the situation only set to get worse, Generation Rent will be forced to resign themselves to a life in expensive, unstable private renting, and wave goodbye to their dreams of a home to put down roots in.
“It doesn’t have to be like this. The next Mayor of London has the power to turn our housing crisis around, and with only weeks before Londoners go to the polling booth, the candidates must commit to investing in homes that people on ordinary incomes can actually afford and making renting more secure.”
Mike, a nurse, is currently renting and is facing having to move away from the capital because of high housing costs.
“On a nurse’s salary and with house prices so high, I can’t see how I’ll ever own my own home. At the moment, it feels like nothing more than a pipe dream.
“I’m stuck renting and looking at moving away from where I currently live because rents have gone up so much as well. It just seems so unfair – if you work hard, you should be able to afford a place to call home.”Read more