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Beyond the epidemic. In times of crisis, London is voting for the mayor

LONDON (AP) – London was booming a while ago. Now it is afraid of the bust.

Brexit ոն The coronavirus epidemic has hit the British capital in a perfect storm. By 2021, there will be fewer people in the city, fewer businesses, tighter divisions, tougher choices than one might expect.

On May 6, Londoners will elect a mayor whose work will help determine whether this is a time of decline for Europe’s largest city or an opportunity to do better.

“It will definitely be rude,” said King Eck Brown, a professor of London studies at King’s College London. “Those two rather seismic changes, the Brexit virus, are going to be very difficult to overcome.”

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Plagues, fires, wars – London has survived! But there has never been such a year. The coronavirus destroyed more than 15,000 Londoners and shook the foundations of one of the largest cities in the world. As the fast-paced mass vaccination campaign promises wider reopening, the Associated Press looks at the effects of the epidemic on London’s institutions և asking what the future holds.

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The newly elected mayor of London will lead a city of more than 8 million people, which is facing the usual big urban problems – too little affordable housing – transit, too much crime – pollution, as well as a number of unprecedented problems.

A year of coronavirus blockades and travel restrictions emptied the city’s office towers, shut down nightlife, closed pubs and restaurants, and deported international tourists. It will take a long time to return to normal.

“We have already lost about 300,000 jobs, and now more than one million Londoners are fleeing,” said Mayor Sadiq Khan, who is being re-elected. “So the problem is how to avoid the mass unemployment of the 1980s.

“Indeed, it is very possible to have the same ambition that our forefathers and forefathers had after World War II, because that is the scale of the challenges,” said Khan, whose priorities include focusing on people returning to the city center and exacerbating economic inequalities.

If the polls are correct, the 50-year-old Khan is likely to win a second term in Thursday’s election, which has been postponed for a year due to the epidemic. And he և his main competitor are London success stories.

Khan, a lawyer, is a member of the center-left Labor Party, the son of Pakistani immigrants. His father was a bus driver and his mother a tailor.

At the same time, the grandparents of the Conservative candidate Sean Bailey are part of the “Windrush generation” of immigrants from the Caribbean to Britain after World War II. She was raised by her single mother in a Ladbroke Grove brothel, an area where expensive Victorian homes were housed near collapsed social housing blocks.

The 49-year-old former employee is a passionate supporter of the city, who, according to him, gave him a chance to prosper.

“Elsewhere in the world, if you come from a working class background, London offers no other options,” said Bailey, who believes London’s biggest challenge is crime.

Bailey wants to see more young workers, more police officers beaten, more use of stop search forces to remove knives and other weapons from the streets. Stopping և Search is a highly controversial policy, as young blacks have become disproportionately targeted, և this has been the focus of anti-racism protests against the police.

But Bailey says it matters.

“The first thing that annoys the SJ community is the rate at which our young people are dying,” he said.

And Khan, Bailey, more than a dozen candidates, from the Liberal Democrats to the Greens, to the counter-blockchain comedy Count Binface, know they’re in a virus-infected city, to Britain, to the European Union.

Brexit is challenging London by ending the free flow of people from the continent, jeopardizing the city’s status as Europe’s financial center. At the same time, the epidemic has challenged the existence of megacities, the crowded areas where people live, work and travel.

After three decades of growth, London’s population declined in 2020 when people went out in search of more territory during the blockade or returned to their homelands or homelands. It remains to be seen when they will return.

Three blocks, now being phased out, kept office workers at home, turning central London into a ghost town. Millions of people no longer move to the city center to work or play, as coronavirus restrictions have forced people to stay local.

Throughout London, a “village town” whose neighborhoods have different characters, the epidemic has prompted people to reconsider their priorities.

“If you go to central London, there’s almost no one there,” said Mark Burton, who runs a community art center in Walthamstow, once a rugged, soothing area northeast of the city. “And out of here there is activity around the cafes.”

Barton thinks Khan has done a pretty good job as mayor, although he wants more support for cycling and community-based enterprises.

Throughout the city of Ladbroke Grove, resident Nicolas Olajide likes rival Bailey’s promise to stop the crimes. He also believes that the epidemic has given the city a new reality.

“I think it evoked a sense of community in people,” Olajide said. “In the past, London went the way we were no longer a community, but the guardian of our neighbors. But I think it reunited us. People who stay at home, take care of their neighbors, work from home. It has brought families closer together. ”

Green Party mayoral candidate Sean Berry says the epidemic has exposed the yawning gaps in London society, leaving people wanting a “fresh start”.

“It is a very interesting place to live in London, but it is polluted, it can cause tension, the cost of living is very high,” he said. “Each district of London also has its own spirit, we must promote it.”

London historian Brown is optimistic about London’s ability to stand back. It used to have hard times during the 2000 years of its existence.

“The ancient history of London is really a history of being set on fire from time to time. “The whole city is burning, and then everyone gets sick with the plague,” he said. “This happens over a cycle of years and years, people keep coming back.

“London’s very long history is an incredible resilience. Sometimes it is even a little careless. It does not always take everyone back. “But the place itself, its economy, its attractiveness, somehow endure,” he said.

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Associated Press writer Danica Kirka contributed to this story.

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Read AP’s “London. Other parts of the “Beyond the Epidemic” series. Https://apnews.com/article/london-beyond-the-pandemic-837183578755

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