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London is overpriced, overhyped and over-rated

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The capital’s decline will be great for other British cities, says Rory Olcayto

London is in decline. It’s too expensive now for young, clever people with new ideas about life, the universe and everything - unless they are bankers or toffs, of course.

Or foreign students with rich parents who don’t mind that their kids spend 17 grand on a bottle of champagne in some crappy West End club just because a lap dancer smiled in their general direction.

Or Geneva-based hedge fund managers who plunge their millions into basement projects in Knightsbridge because the returns are better than the interest rates in their local Swiss bank.

Or celebrity-class humanoids who’ve launched some pointless accessory that poorly paid drone-workers born and bred in Stratford save up a couple of months wages and then queue up for in the rain overnight to buy so they can brag about it on Facebook.

Or media-class chancers whose jobs will go pop in 4.7 years time, but still draw a decent 80 grand salary because they’ve convinced the even more under-threat executives and managers they service that they are the ones who can help steer the whole ship through choppy digital waters, yet instead of saving their dosh blow it on mediocre fusion grub in one of London’s many ahh-mazing restaurants dahling. (‘Extravagant? Not really. We bought a four-bed in Dulwich in, like, 1996. Chillax. How’s your baba ghanoush by the way?’)

Or political-class bluffers who make their money god knows how but, let’s be honest, probably because they’re being paid by corporations to ask questions in the Commons the answers to which will be of great benefit to their secretive paymasters.

Or tech whizz-kidults who translate an 80s Sinclair Speccy game into a smart phone app and reap the rewards when a hundred thousand bored commuters download it for £2.29 and only play it once because they’d forgotten how rubbish it was when they played it last in 1986.

Old Street

Actually, that last one, hold on. The start-up crowd, the Silicon Roundabout mob, the ones who are supposedly building London’s new economy, the ones David Cameron is backing with his Tech City plans; the same lot to whom during a visit to Downing Street, as the Evening Standard reported, Cameron offered a pair of tickets to the final of the women’s Olympic beach volleyball for the one which created the most jobs. (Tech City is still a very blokey sector, more so even than dear old architecture.) Well, it’s not all going to plan here. London’s too expensive for them, too. What’s more, Cam’s hyping of Tech City has been blamed for inflating rent levels there. Oh dear.

It’s true. The rising cost of living in the capital means start-ups could well consider setting up elsewhere. In Birmingham, for example, as was widely reported last week, following a recently commissioned survey whose results highlighted the high costs of doing business in London. Carried out by YouGov for Business Birmingham, the survey questioned more than 150 managers of small to medium-sized firms in the capital. A full 70 per cent of respondents said they were ‘struggling to grow’. About half said it was ‘too expensive’ to run a business in London; and a quarter or so said they could not find decent staff.

Wouter Schuitemaker, investment director of Business Birmingham, said his city was looking to lure these companies away from London. ‘We’re seeing a surge in interest from innovative tech firms,’ he said. And they’re the ones who want to grow, but can’t afford to in the capital. London is in decline. Hooray! Isn’t it great? Yes it is - for other British cities.

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