Right of Reply: Jeffrey Archer

Lord Archer of Weston-Super-Mare replies to Richard Rogers's criticism of British cities
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The Independent Culture
RICHARD ROGERS is right to say we need new policies to improve urban life - but he has no need to denigrate our cities. It is not true that they are "the worst in Europe".

By failing to celebrate what is successful and special about them, and concentrating only on how to win back the middle-classes, he is in danger of missing the point.

Take our capital: no longer the centre of empire, it is now the multi- cultural centre of the world. The fantastic creativity of London comes from its unique ethnic make-up. London is full of talent and energy. Don't forget we have the second biggest street festival in the world - the Notting Hill Carnival. In spite of its constant struggle for financial support, it has grown and gained respect year by year. We no longer need to ask, "how many arrests were there?" - we can simply enjoy it. It has become a model for police-community relations that we must now apply (especially in the wake of the Stephen Lawrence tragedy) 365 days a year. As we learn to value our creativity, I hope that the carnival will one day even overtake Rio.

London is the only city where the black and Asian population is becoming more integrated, spreading into areas that were previously predominantly white, against the trend in other parts of the world. Just compare London to Paris if you want to appreciate our far healthier social mix.

There are many things we must do to improve life in London; reducing congestion and pollution through better public transport is surely top of the list. But let us not forget our great strengths, London is a truly civilised place: a greater variety of people feel genuinely at home in London than in any other city on earth.

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