9 years in power and the Labour government has done nothing for London. I used to love being in London and indeed believe that it is still one of the great cities of the world. But it’s creaking under the weight of an un-maintained and never-replaced infrastructure and a half-assed approach that seems to permeate through so much of the UK’s public services. Perhaps I notice this more after having lived in Germany for a while. On this last trip I became acutely aware signs stuck around stations: “Machine out of Order”, “Toilets closed” (during office hours), “Due to signal failure… …not running” Why can’t this shit bloody work properly. It’s really not difficult to run a metro network system (most of the world manages somehow) or have spare parts for ticket machines. Improving your service through “We are pleased to announce that all tube lines are running normally” announcements is an embarrassment. What else should they be doing? I am picking on specific examples but feel that they reflect the surface of a far greater problem, which is Labour’s lack recognition of London’s importance in the economy, and the lack of investment in the city’s infrastructure to reflect it’s wealth generation.
The city still has not even broken ground in the Cross London rail link. This is a project that has been on the books for 16 years. Instead people have to make do with a Victorian rail network that is packed and where temperatures rise into the 40s in the summer. Shockingly only now are moves afoot to try and cool down the tube tunnels.
Unfortunately improving infrastructure type projects take time and even if the Labour government is finally kicked out, it’s going to be many more years until projects are started to fix London and ordinary residents (and exiles like myself) start seeing the benefit. For the moment, living in Munich is appealing.
I have noticed a real pride when I speak to people in Munich who work for the city’s administration. Yes, people in Germany attach more cachet to working for the civil service but it goes beyond this. One woman from my gym works in the city works department and spoke with real pride about her promotion of the city’s pools and was genuinely interested in my experience of using them. I can’t imagine Kevin from Essex asking me passionately about what I thought of his outsourcing of the parks and pools (are there even any left in London?) to Capita Resources.
I’m also the last person to advocate the state running services but also don’t want to be living in a society of “Computer says no” attitude and lack of responsibility for things working. In Munich they do.