The events of the last 12 months have brought the relationship between the individual and the state into sharp focus. Whether imposing restrictions on personal freedoms or offering protection to tenants to prevent evictions, the government has been at the centre of the Covid 19 conversation. To better understand what has gone on, the Marylebone Association is speaking to some of the key political figures who will help determine Marylebone's future. We will also have conversations with our residents and business owners in the community to hear about their personal thoughts and journeys.
Q&As with MP Nickie Aiken
What has your year been like?
I was not expecting to deal with a pandemic in my first year in parliament and it has been hard not having my team of five and half people around me as they are working in different parts of the country. Learning about the process in parliament as well as juggling the tsunami the pandemic has brought has been tough. I feel a responsibility to the community, and I set up weekly meetings and it has brought positivity during this dark time. Coming together as a community I have listened, and I have been able to push through issues to no 10 and the relevant ministers. I have enjoyed keeping in touch with people around the City of London, not many MPs have that connection.
What are your priorities going forward?
Dealing with the fallout of the pandemic and a recession. London will be the last out as there are no workers and tourists around and this will not change until Spring at the earliest.
I will be supporting local business. We are facing a real economic depression in central London. Another priority is rough sleeping, working with partners on campaigning to have the Vagrancy Act repealed and a more modern up to date legislation in its place. I am positive and optimistic about the future and we need to keep motoring on and with Brexit we will secure as many trade deals as possible.
What are your thoughts on the cycle lanes and road closures?
Like life there is always balance. I am not a cyclist, but my family are. I want as safe cycling as possible however I recognise what traffic is on our roads and we need traffic flow.
I questioned the Mayor over his traffic measures as there was no consultation. People will embrace change; I welcome more cycling and more walking but there is a better way about what the Mayor has done.
There seems a lot more criminal gangs and crime in the area?
Yes, I have also seen this in my local area of Pimlico. I believe in the broken windows theory. We need to stop it now before it takes hold.
I would urge the residents to speak to local police and councillors and Marylebone policing forum. The government is putting in 20,000 new police officers. They come to Westminster first, we must ensure a zero-tolerance approach to this.
What are your thoughts on the future of Oxford Street and the potential pedestrianisation of it?
I took on Sadiq Khan and stopped it. I think we must do something in response to Covid. What is now needed is a new look for Oxford Street. Covid has accelerated this, Retail is changing anyway. It is more experience led. John Lewis, Debenhams etc would not need the same floor plan as pre Covid and whether that means more hotels, gyms or residential. We need to look at the whole district plan. However, it is not my say anymore.
What would you say to residents of Marylebone to boost morale over the next six months?
Brilliant community spirit which is at the heart of Marylebone and you can see that with the Marylebone Association and other groups in the area. There is great passion and love of the area and that has seen us through and that is going to see us through next year and we need it to. We are all facing tougher times. There is light at the end of the tunnel and I am convinced we will get through it together. Places evolve all the time. After this is over, we will have a slightly different place to live. Out of all disasters come opportunities.