Hello. OnLondon.co.uk is a journalism website covering the politics, development and culture of the British capital in depth and in detail. It is run by me, Dave Hill, the award-winning former Guardian London commentator. Its subtitle, I hope, speaks for itself: For The Good City.
I launched On London the day after my Guardian columns were brought to an end, and it is now one year old. Why spend twelve months earning next to nothing when I could instead have become, oh, I don't know, a goatherd or an opera singer?
There are two main reasons. One is that writing about London has given me more professional satisfaction than anything else I've done in a writing career that began in 1981. The other is that I believe in my bones that a website like mine, dedicated to covering the capital's politics, development and culture in detail without conforming to populist dogmas or party lines, is badly needed in these times of rapid change and deep uncertainties.
The longer I've been running On London, the more sure I am of this. But to keep the site going and growing for another year or more I need readers' financial support. My target of £25,000 is ambitious, but if I hit it I will be able to do the following things and more:
- Really improve the look of the site.
- Hire some help, especially with the visual content.
- Give opportunities to young journalists.
- Put resources into some truly comprehensive reporting of this May's borough elections with top political analyst Lewis Baston.
- Find time to do more in-depth coverage of large and complex London issues, such as housing and homelessness, low pay and poverty and the implications of Brexit.
At first, On London was written only by me. But as the months have passed, I have been delighted to carry more and more pieces by an array of prominent, talented and influential people who understand how London works and help to make it work a little better.
Politicians who have contributed include Karen Buck MP (Labour), Caroline Pidgeon AM (Liberal Democrat), Siân Berry AM (Green Party) and Councillor Daniel Moylan (Conservative), a former senior adviser to Boris Johnson. From the world of think tanks and academia, Richard Brown and Ben Rogers of Centre for London and Jack Brown of the King's College Strand Group have graced the site.
Chris Paddock of Regeneris has provided insights into London's planning history. Peter Murray of New London Architecture and the London Society has written about bridges that might have been and cycling schemes that ought to be. Rachel Holdsworth has fixed election literature and Sam Stopp has argued that the Bank of England ought to stay where it is. And through it all former Guardian leader writer Victor Keegan has been finding bits of Lost London, sometimes sending the site's traffic soaring as a result.
I've been particularly pleased to provide close-up coverage of the internal Labour Party battles in Haringey and Newham - battles that are not over yet. I know that these have made an impact because journalist friends from Large News Organisations have been in touch about them quite a lot, politely requesting help.
I'm also extremely chuffed that so many impressive people of different political views and from different fields of London expertise have been happy to appear in the promotional video above, shot and edited by my student film maker friend Max Curwen-Bingley (he's from Essex, but I don't hold it against him. As the Mayor says, "London Is Open"). On London has a classy bunch of friends.
What else can I say? Well, Boris Johnson once told someone that "Dave Hill is always right", though it's possible he didn't really mean it. More seriously, I feel indebted to this city for enabling me to become someone I would not otherwise have been, to do things I would not otherwise have done, and to find a life and loves - my fabulous wife, my six fantastic children and my adorable grandson - that I would never have found in the very different place where I grew up.
London has many problems, yet it still offers the magic and the fascination, the promise and the potential, that brought me here almost 40 years ago. That is the spirit that moves OnLondon.co.uk.