Transport for London sponsorship would freeze fares, report asserts

Transport for London (TfL) is being urged to consider sponsorship deals across its public transport network, in order to freeze fare increases, londonist.com reports.   

This time next year, those making their way to a conference venue in London might need to change at ‘Nike at Oxford Street station’ or exit at ‘Virgin Euston’, if the recommendations in a new report are adopted.

Members of the Conservative London Assembly have complied a document which suggests that sponsorship of the tube could result in no fare increases for three years. It’s an idea that 74 per cent of Londoners are reportedly in favour of, given the expense associated with using public transport in the capital.

The idea isn’t new, it has been proposed in the past but was rejected as it was thought that passengers might be get confused. On the contrary, the group thinks the opposite will happen.

“If Harrods were to sponsor Knightbridge in some way, or if an airline was to sponsor underground stations at Heathrow, the opposite effect is possible: sponsorship could help people find their destination more easily,” the report read.

Questions have been raised pertaining to the extent of sponsorship which passengers would find acceptable. ‘Corporate trimmings’ on the platforms might be fine, but the renaming of the entire tube map would probably cause an outcry – a point upon which TfL’s chairman, Daniel Moylan agrees.

According to marketingweek.co.uk, he has previously asserted his doubts about such a scheme, saying he was ‘instinctively uncomfortable about renaming long-cherished tube stations’. Mayor of London, Boris Johnson has previously vetoed the idea, so the Assembly will have to do some convincing to do.

One year to the day for Heathrow Terminal 2

Heathrow officials have announced that the airport’s new £2.5 billion terminal will open exactly one year today (June 4th 2014), london24.com reports.

The new Terminal 2, which has been privately funded, was created to replace its old predecessor which was demolished back in 2009. Once finished, the revamped Terminal will see 20 million passengers head through its gates every year – or 55,000 a day.

It will also welcome more than 20 airlines and 25,000 staff members – including those at its 50 shops and 17 bars and restaurants. The development doesn’t just include the Terminal building itself, but also an energy centre, cooling station, 522 metre satellite pier and 1,340-space car park.

Developers have noted that T2 will open in smaller phases, in the hope of avoiding the embarrassment which dogged Terminal 5 when it first opened. It is hoped that staggering the operations would prevent similar scenes to that of 2008 when thousands of bags went missing and long queues stretched across all areas of the new hub.

Instead, operations will be accelerated slowly to ensure few troubles and that anyone heading to London’s function venues isn’t left with a poor impression of the city.

It will initially work at 10 per cent capacity before increasing over the course of six months. The Airlines will also move in steadily over the same period.

Speaking of the opening, Heathrow’s development director, John Holland-Kaye, told bbc.co.uk: “The new T2 has been designed around the needs of our passengers, to allow them to get to and from their flights as quickly as possible. Like T5, it will promise world-class customer service and a warm welcome to Britain, which visitors expect from the UK’s hub airport.”

Majority of companies prefer 'boardroom style' layouts for internal meetings

The vast majority of businesses who hire out event venues for their internal meetings prefer the space to be set out like a boardroom, according to a new report.

According to citmagazine.com, Capita Travel and Events collected information from over a million customer internal meeting room bookings to find 87 per cent of the companies siding with venues that can offer a ‘boardroom style’ layout.

The event planning firm didn’t disclose why so many of its clients opted with this style of room, although holding a meeting in corporate-looking environment could help attendees tune their minds to business. 

Typical features of a boardroom include a long line of tables with chairs facing each other, allowing the tens of company employees to talk directly to one another. Still, as Capita’s research proves that these are the most popular types of layouts, corporate venues may wish to seek feedback from their most regular customers to establish what makes a great boardroom.

Cited by conference-news.co.uk, other data from the report revealed that the average number of delegates in attendance was five and average meeting duration was three hours.

Capita also mentioned that 88.5 per cent of bookings for rooms with video conferencing facilities saw the company use the technology at their disposal. The analysts at CBRE said this was a sign that these rooms were being used effectively.

NFL considers greater involvement in London

London could soon be the host city of three NFL games every year, bbc.co.uk reports.

In a bid to make American Football appeal to a much more international audience, the NFL has sought to play some of its regular season matches at destinations around the world. One popular location is London, as the British market is not only lucrative but also one that is expected to adopt the new sport most readily.

It was decided back in 2007 that London would host one game a year, although this has been increased to two for the upcoming season. This may not be all, however, as the NFL has now announced it may go further still and increase the number of games to three a season after it emerged that both existing fixtures had already sold out, nfl.com claims.

The announcement is not only a boon for sports fans but businesses looking to extend across the Atlantic as well. The games attract representatives from big businesses, who often make the journey to fit in conferences at London’s meeting venues.

In addition to the extra games, NFL chiefs have considered opening a British franchise, which it is said would embed the world’s most lucrative sports league in Britain even more firmly.

This would either involve setting up a team from scratch or relocating an existing one. In the case of the latter, most expect this to be the Jacksonville Jaguars, who have already pledged to play one of its “home” games in London per season for the next four years.

Watchdog raises concerns over potential Thameslink delays

A government spending watchdog has called for the contract for new Thameslink trains to be signed imminently to prevent delays, bbc.co.uk reports.

There is currently a delay in securing the £1.6 billion contract for 1,200 carriages, after banks reined in their lending in light of the European financial crisis.

Furthermore, the issue has been compounded by calls for the original deal with Germany’s Siemens factory to be cancelled in favour of a replacement with Bombardier. The Canadian manufacturer owns Britain’s last remaining train factory in Derby, meaning the funding might not only come a little easier but it may also improve British job prospects.

Now, the National Audit Office has urged to government to press on with its deal or it could risk delaying the opening beyond 2018.

Such a delay could prove costly not only for the government but also businesses in the city, which were relying on the rail link for commuters or getting businesspeople in for meetings at nearby function venues.

Responding to the report, a Department for Transport spokesperson told ft.com: “The procurement process for the new Thameslink rolling stock is complex and it is important that we get it absolutely right in order to ensure the best deal for the taxpayer in these challenging financial times.

“However, we are in the final stages of the process and we expect to conclude the deal shortly. We have an experienced senior team in place and are confident that we will be able to deliver the remainder of the project on time and on budget.”

London to be world's second most competitive city by 2025

London is set to be the world’s second most competitive city to do business, according to a joint report by Citigroup and the Economist Intelligence Unit.

Reported by londonlovesbusiness.com, London will jump from fifth to second over the next 12 years but New York will remain in first place due to its ability to attract investment and capital.

London continues to be a major draw for businessmen and women looking to conduct business-related events – meet clients in event venues, invest in commercial property or finance their own start-up for instance.

Furthermore, the report suggests London’s population is set to rise from 8.6 million to 14.4 million in 2025.

On the other hand, the report claims London is joint first in terms of financial maturity and global appeal, with the London 2012 Olympics contributing to the improvement of public transport.

Maurice Thompson, head of Citi in the UK, claims: “London’s outstanding ability to attract capital, new business, talent and visitors should ensure it retains its place as the second most competitive city in the world in 2025. The question now for London is what does it take to be the most competitive city in the world?

“London also has to be ready to compete against the fast-growing emerging market cities, many of which are showing very impressive improvements to their competitiveness,” added Thompson, cited by ibtimes.co.uk.

New Heathrow runway plans revealed

Heathrow Airport is considering the possibility of building a third runway on the south-west side of the airport, rather than expanding northwards as was initially planned.

Standard.co.uk reported that Heathrow bosses have ‘torn up the blueprint’, after running into strong opposition from Londoners and environmentalists. The new proposals would see the runway expand towards Stanwell Moor village in Surrey. The original proposal, which was approved by Labour and rejected by the coalition, would have affected the Harmondsworth and Sipson.

According to telegraph.co.uk, the new proposals would see significantly less disruption to neighbourhoods and fewer properties being demolished.

With London continuing to boom, Heathrow is an essential hub to the capital’s corporate venues. Nearly 4 million people travel between Heathrow and JFK in New York each year, making it one of the most important business ports in the world.

However, the airport has been under increasing strain, with the prompting ministers in 2009 to begin seeking a way to expand London’s capacity. While mayor of London, Boris Johnson, has favoured building an entirely new airport, dubbed ‘Boris Island’, the government is pushing ahead with plans to add a third runway at Heathrow.

Daniel Moylan, the mayor’s chief aviation adviser, warned that a third runway at Heathrow would be full to capacity as soon as it opened.

Date for release of key meetings study confirmed

A study highlighting the gross economic value of the UK meetings industry is to be revealed on July 10 at a special event in London, reports conferencenews.co.uk.

Commissioned by the Meeting Professionals International (MPI) Foundation, the ‘UK Economic Impact Study’ will show just how much of a impact meetings held in Britain have on UK GDP. This has been funded to the tune of £161,000, with areas of focus including actual spend and income as well as trends currently unfolding within the UK industry. 

After revealing key findings from their research, members of the MPI Foundation forum will go on to explain what the figures mean and the effect they could have on the industry.

Conference-news.co.uk says the results garnered should help all of those connected to UK meetings, possibly including event spaces and planners, to demonstrate their value to the overall economy when attempting to secure new business.

Samme Allen, MPI UK and Ireland chapter president, backed the research to be fundamental in proving the importance of the meetings hosted in Britain.

“The results of this research will give us the information we need to lobby the government, make waves in boardrooms across the country and firmly place the meetings and events industry at the centre of the UK’s commercial landscape,” she told citmagazine.com.  

“This is without doubt the most important research ever to be undertaken within the sector.” 

London-only think tank launched

A think tank designed especially to address the needs of London has been launched, standard.co.uk reports.

The ‘Centre for London’ project, will address four main issues in the capital; housing and infrastructure; London and the UK; London as a global city and London’s young people.

At a reception to launch the think tank yesterday (June 11th), the Centre’s director, Ben Rogers, was joined by former Minister for London Tessa Jowell, Evening Standard editor Sarah Sands and chair of the City Corporation Mark Boleat.

The aim was to create a dedicated think tank for London as – despite being the largest urban settlement in Europe that generates almost a third of the UK’s GDP – no such scheme had existed previously.

It has since been declared a “non-partisan” research institute with no political weighting to impact its eventual decisions and recommendations.

In looking at ‘London as a global city’, it is expected the think tank would work out ways of enticing some of the world’s largest companies to the capital, either to do business deals at its event venues or even to go the distance and make the journey to open a new headquarters.

One of Rogers’ first acts was to attend a meeting held by mayor Boris Johnson where he detailed his future of London, including the controversial plans for expanding the capital’s airport offering.

Speaking to ft.com of Johnson’s report, Rogers said: “This report serves a lot of purposes. It’s a bid to the Treasury, a message to the rest of the world that London is open for business to unite the Greater London Authority around a common goal.”

Boris Johnson calls for more investment in London transport

London mayor Boris Johnson says the city demands fresh investment for its transport system, arguing that a cut in funding could prove “fatal” to its competitiveness.

Cited by bbc.co.uk, he claimed the capital’s transport providers are already “over-stretched” without considering what will happen as its population continues to grow. Reports suggest the number of people living in London will reach 8.7 million in 2016, an all-time high.

Furthermore, this concern is focused on London’s growing number of permanent residents. The Mayor’s comments fail to factor in the crowds of business travellers, such as those attending conference centres around the capital.  

As reported by guardian.co.uk, the issue has been detailed in Mr Johnson’s 2020 Vision for London, an 80-page document which also sets out new growth areas for the city.

Concentrating on improvements for local transport, the Mayor said: “The tube, bus and rail networks are already operating at capacity.

“On some lines, in the peaks, we are in danger of breaching EU regulations for the carriage of live animals,” he added, urging those in government not to “slacken off” with their plans for Crossrail.

The new high frequency rail service for London and the South West is set to inject £42 billion into the UK economy, and Mr Johnson said cabinet members should view this as the secret to creating jobs and growth.