Give more, Johnson tells the rich
Boris Johnson has urged the super-wealthy in Britain to give more to philanthropic causes as he helped launch a new nine million-euro competition to improve city life.
The mayor of London, urging US-style charitable giving by the wealthy, said attitudes were changing in London and he had seen some "amazing" acts of philanthropy across the city.
But he said too often those who amassed "colossal wealth" chose to buy a "grouse moor" or "schlosses in the home counties" rather than giving to good causes.
"There is still something in Britain that regards giving on a huge scale as being somehow ostentatious. That is ridiculous, that is absolutely ridiculous," Mr Johnson told a news conference in central London. "The sooner people get over their lust for buying great schlosses in the home counties or indeed a grouse moor and give to great causes in London, the better."
Mr Johnson was speaking at the launch of Bloomberg Philanthropies Mayors Challenge, a competition to inspire European cities to generate ideas to improve city life. The competition will award five million euro (£4.2 million) for the main prize-winner and one million for four additional cities that come up with the best ideas.
Mr Johnson described the mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg, who was present at the launch, as "one of the great philanthropists of our age".
Mr Johnson said he believed Britain faced "cultural" obstacles to increasing philanthropic giving by the wealthy.
"What they really want to do when they have amassed colossal wealth in Britain, what they like to do, is buy the biggest possible house they can, with the most colossal grouse moor they can find and then try in some desperate way to perpetuate it .. and pass it on to their children for some unknown reason," he said. "In America, they have a very different attitude, they believe that if you have made a lot of money you should do something for society."
Mr Johnson and Mr Bloomberg were joined at the news conference in City Hall, central London, by the Mayor of Warsaw, Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz, and Florence Mayor Matteo Renzi.
The competition invites leaders of European cities with 100,000 residents or more to submit their city's "boldest idea". Around 600 cities around Europe are eligible to apply, according to the award organisers.