Daily Telegraph: Ivan Massow, the Tory businessman who recently launched a bid to succeed Boris Johnson as London’s Mayor, has pledged to help give the City an image makeover and boost enterprise in the Capital.
“I’m looking to engage the City in a much bigger way,” he said. “There doesn’t need to be this divide between business and the community.”
Mr Massow, who is seeking the Conservative nomination for the 2016 Mayoral race, wants to help the UK’s major financial institutions appear more accessible.
“I want kids to come into the City,” he said. “Banks can use their roof spaces as playgrounds. We need to show that the City’s not just full of posh Etonians. That died out in the 1920’s.”
Over the past eight months, Mr Massow has been working on a strategy to help boost entrepreneurial activity in London.
He plans to launch the London Incubator Project, which will help turn disused buildings into pop-up offices where start-up companies can access free wi-fi and resources.
“It’s remarkably cheap to set up an incubator,” he said.” The City could help support the project. There are buildings waiting for planning permission that we could occupy and they [the banks] could donate old office furniture to the project.
“Bankers could also get involved in mentoring, which is a great way to give back and doesn’t cost anything.”
Speaking the week after several UK banks were fined for manipulating the foreign exchange market, Mr Massow said that his new initiatives would “help the City send out the right message.”
Mr Massow, a serial entrepreneur and lifelong Conservative, said that he would not stand for any demonization of the UK’s financial services sector.
“It makes £125bn for the economy, and that’s before you factor in couriers and taxis and other service industries,” he said.
“People say we rely too heavily on the financial services. Fine. Grow other businesses, then. The City pays its way and does a lot of good.
“Socialism takes capitalism for granted.”
As part of his support for enterprising Londoners, Mr Massow is promotingIdeas Britain, a mobile app that allows people to submit a business idea in less than a minute.
He has joined Eurythmics frontman and arts entrepreneur Dave Stewart and former Dyson CEO Martin McCourt as a mentor on the platform, helping would be entrepreneurs and creators turn ideas into reality.
“I will do more for start-ups than Boris,” Mr Massow said.
Mr Massow is planning, if elected, a new London lottery and a hotel tax, which will be payable by visiting tourists, to fund a number of projects across the capital. He claimed that these initiatives would raise £1bn, which could be spent on a new air ambulance for London, a hospice in Barnes, free wheelchairs for kids, and other projects. “I want to fund everything, and plug all these little gaps,” he said.
Rival Mayoral candidate Tessa Jowell, who is seeking the Labour nomination, is also planning to introduce the hotel tax. “She’s copied me,” he claimed, adding that he and Ms Jowell are like “chalk and cheese” on other issues. “It’s like going up against the Queen,” he said. “And I’m the angel with a broken wing.”
He claimed that there was a lack of “high profile” rivals in the race. Of Sol Campbell’s mooted bid, he said, “He hasn’t actually officially declared himself."
Mr Massow has already become the subject of much debate because of a recent Youtube video, released to launch his Mayoral bid, which showed that he is gay, a former alcoholic and dyslexic.
Mr Massow, who was once chairman of the ICA, has launched and sold a number of companies, most notably Massow Financial Services, which secured insurance deals for gay men. He has also founded a number of unsuccessful ventures. “I have lost businesses and I know what it feels like," he said. "This is why I don’t like hearing people ragging businesses. It takes a lot to put your house and savings on the line and risk public humiliation.”
He is currently speaking to a number of prominent businessmen in the capital to find out how he can help them to grow, he claimed.
“I want to understand their problems. I am a small businessman too.”