London’s endless surprises make it the world’s greatest city

FILE PHOTO: People sit down in the hot weather infront of Tower Bridge, following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), London, Britain, May 28, 2020. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: People sit down in the hot weather infront of Tower Bridge, following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), London, Britain, May 28, 2020. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls/File Photo

Meet Paul Hawkins, our London reporter

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A mate of mine recently messaged me saying, “when you’re next in Peckham, let’s go for lunch at a cracking Balkans’ restaurant".

I genuinely didn’t know if he was joking. Having lived and worked in London for the best part of 20 years, I’m used to diversity of choice when it comes to food but never thought I’d hear the phrase, ‘Fancy a Balkans’?

But that’s London, isn’t it? You might think you know it, but she always has a surprise up her sleeve. An undiscovered part of the capital or endless foods, sights, sounds, smells and history to explore, reflecting the diversity of a city that continues to evolve, grow, adapt and ultimately thrive, despite whatever challenges are thrown at it. And that includes coronavirus.

FILE PHOTO: The London Eye, the Big Ben clock tower and the City of London financial district are seen from the Broadway development site in central London, Britain, August 23, 2017. Picture taken August 23, 2017. REUTERS/Hannah McKay/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: The London Eye, the Big Ben clock tower and the City of London financial district are seen from the Broadway development site in central London, Britain, August 23, 2017. Picture taken August 23, 2017. REUTERS/Hannah McKay/File Photo

London now has the highest unemployment rate in the UK and that’ll almost certainly climb in September with the end of the furlough scheme.

Tourism and Hospitality are still recovering while the UK-EU trade deal failed to cover services meaning dozens of financial job losses. Maybe you’re finding it hard to get a job? Even getting there can also be a problem.

Yes, we have an integrated public transport network that other UK cities aspire to, but it’s not without its problems. Crossrail is two years late while TfL fare revenue is still 90% down on what it was pre-pandemic.

People sit at outside restaurant area, as the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) restrictions ease, at Covent Garden in London, Britain April 12, 2021. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls/File Photo
People sit at outside restaurant area, as the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) restrictions ease, at Covent Garden in London, Britain April 12, 2021. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls/File Photo

Speaking of which, how many of us will return to the office five-days a week? Businesses and the housing market relied on the rat race. Do you really miss paying sky-high train fares to be crammed into a sweaty mobile sauna just to get to work? I don’t.

There’s also housing. No mayor has managed to build enough affordable homes while rents take up such a huge part of living costs in the capital. I know, having rented a room in Hanwell for 14 years before moving to West Drayton.

And don’t forget policing. Is Stop and Search a good idea? Do you feel safe in London? Do you trust the police? I’d love to hear from you. And that’s the point about GB News. We’re different.

Instead of journalists making the news, we want you to set the agenda. It’s not about what I think. It’s about you and your story. We want to tell positive stories and shout about the amazing people in our city, their colourful lives and the fantastic work they do. The Real Great Britons.