OPINION - We’re locking young people out of London – we need a youthquake

Anna van Praagh (Matt Writtle)
Anna van Praagh (Matt Writtle)

TWO golden weeks with a bank holiday on each of the Mondays. Now it’s all over and the mood in London feels as desolate as the rain-lashed bunting withered all over my street. Hardly surprising.

Over the last year, life in London has got so much tougher for everyone.

For most of us hard-working Londoners it’s back to a situation where it feels like there is a deranged tennis machine where your post box used to be, perpetually firing bills at you.

Does anyone else feel like London has stopped being a place where it’s possible to make any financial progress? And that’s for those of us who own homes and are on decent salaries.

I feel for all the talented young people who are the creative lifeblood of our capital. If cool is our commodity, and it always has been, then youth is what we’re trading. But we’ve locked youth out of the city.

Every young person I talk to has horrendous stories of piranha landlords and a transitory life of being moved around inhabitable flats at extortionate prices.

Staggeringly, average monthly rents in London are now £2,500.

Forget nights out partying and spending on the latest fashion, young professionals on starter salaries are saying that by the third week after payday they can’t afford to buy food.

No wonder so many are moving abroad, where taxes and rents are lower and pay is higher. When people who would have thrived in London think Dubai — a city with a hugely concerning human rights record, where it is illegal to be gay — is a better place to make their mark than here, then we need to take a good look at where we’re going wrong. (Before you judge their choices, bear in mind young graduates often start their working lives £50k in debt.)

If we can’t promise young people the hope that they can make a decent living in London any more, we need to offer them creativity and fun.

But this is also a problem.

When I was in my 20s London was full of quirky places like the Chelsea Kitchen, where you could get a hot meal for £2.50. Others allowed you to bring your own booze. Now it’s just blanket Prets. How many do we need? 237, apparently. We need to stop this soul-deadening slide into homogeneity.

Meanwhile, Printworks? Closed. Brixton Academy? Closed. Space 289? Closed. So what are the solutions?

How about trying to find the means to support London nightlife, or offering independent shops the same rates we do to charity shops? What about we insist that for every new block of “luxury flats” a percentage has to go at a discounted rate to someone under 30. As Mayor Sadiq Khan says, let’s bring in rent freezes.

Let’s celebrate and support young people in our capital and make it a place where our world-renowned individuality, originality and creative spirit thrives again. Bring on the youthquake.

Succession keeps on giving

Has there been a greater gift to the world than Succession? Last night’s episode featured Logan Roy’s election party — attended by New York’s political elite — aka a collection of ‘crypto-fascist Right-wing nutjobs, venture capitalist Dems, centrist ghouls, op-ed narcissists, and beltway psychos’. But the real drama was watching the disintegration of Tom and Shiv’s marriage under a laboratory microscope and hospital lighting.

Beginning with Tom’s sinister scorpion frozen in a glass gift (“I love you, but you kill me and I kill you”) as they try to rekindle their romance, their balcony blowout was seminal television. Tom says Shiv is selfish, incapable of love and would make an awful mother. She calls him a “conservative hick, f**ing me for my DNA” who proposed to her “at her lowest f***ing ebb” and says she only accepted because she didn’t want to hurt his feelings. He says she’s ‘broken’. Shiv, drying her eyes says: “I don’t like you. I don’t even care about you. You don’t deserve me and you never did.” Best scene I’ve watched all year.