In the absence of democratic accountability, conflicts of interest are inevitable. What is the connection between Michael Bear, head of a local authority in the heart of our capital, and Michael Bear, property developer for Hammerson? This question is especially difficult to answer when the local authority and Hammerson are working together on multi-million pound projects. It’s high time a clear light was shone on this murky world.
Many City of London councillors who are masons indicate their subscriptions to this boys club on their register of interests without specifying which lodges they belong to. Given the huge influence of specific masonic lodges on City politics, in the interests of transparency City councillors listing all the lodges to which they belong on their register of interests would be a huge improvement on the current situation. To give a specific example, while Bishopsgate common councillor Simon D’Olier Duckworth is a senior mason, he only indicates this involvement through listing ‘Masonic Charitable Foundation’ on his register of interests. This is not unusual and we are NOT suggesting that Duckworth has in any way failed to meet the legal requirements for his register of interests. Our point is rather that given the disproportionate number of masons from specific lodges at the top of the City of London council, the current legal requirements to do not go far enough.Read more "Is Simon Duckworth’s Register of Interests As A City Of London Councillor Transparent?"
It is reprehensible of the City of London Corporation to treat Hampstead Heath as a cash cow to be milked to cross-subsidise the financial Square Mile. Even worse, to suggest charging for the use of its ponds for swimming and bathing, when the fundamental purpose of the 1871 Hampstead Heath Act is to ensure that the Heath remains freely open to Londoners and unenclosed by gates or charges. Unfortunately, myopic bookkeepers in the Guildhall, lack the vision to understand an existing obligation from a new one and the relative importance of the legacy of Hampstead Heath. Where there is no vision, the people perish.Read more "Stuff The Centre For Music, City of London Shouldn’t Treat Hampstead Heath As A Cash Cow"
The fact that City of London is the last rotten borough in England has been demonstrated once again, this time by former lord mayor ‘Sir’ Andrew Parmley being the only candidate in the current aldermanic election for Vintry ward, which he will continue to represent. Given the miniscule electorate in this undemocratic business vote ward it is almost impossible for non-establishment figures to get nominated, let alone elected. Parmley, of course, is very much an establishment figure and in common with more than two thirds of lord mayor’s over the past 114 years belongs to the Guildhall Lodge of freemasons (founded in 1905). With its members massively over-represented in top jobs at the City of London council, this men only masonic lodge – number 3116 – is nonetheless allowed to meet for free on City of London premises despite the matter being a glass ceiling issue: only two women have ever held the post of lord mayor, which has long been monopolised by ‘fraternity’ 3116.Read more "Andrew Parmley’s Uncontested Re-Election & Other Affronts To Democracy In The City of London"
There is nothing peculiar about the fact that the City of London council are lending a private school more than £15million – subject to the same local authority granting planning permission for the scheme it already backs – while simultaneously seeking £30million in cuts from its parks and other budgets, and when it has just secured £450million in external loans for unwanted vanity/legacy projects such as the proposed Centre For Music. This rotten borough lobbies globally for neo-liberal policies that benefit the super-rich at the expense of everyone else, so its willingness to underwrite the expansion of an elitist school – to the detriment of London’s architectural heritage and against the interests of the local community – reflects perfectly its aims and priorities.Read more "Ongoing Fiasco Over City of London School For Girls Expansion"
Over the past few weeks the Talk Culture Mile series of events in the City has demonstrated the exclusionary nature of this project, with the aim being to bring ‘together organisations from across all sectors’ while not inviting the main stakeholders, local residents. So while the Improving Social Mobility Through Creative Skills talk was held at Golden Lane Community Centre on 4 July 2019, no one involved troubled themselves to notify tenants on the council estate that houses the venue of this event, since it seems the idea is to leave the organisation of social mobility to professionals – who we assume are mostly interested in preserving their own privileges by holding back the working class. The fact this talk was intended for people unfamiliar with the area rather than local residents was underlined by the leaflet promoting it carrying the following information after the venue’s address: “The community centre is opposite Great Arthur House, EC1Y 0RD”. Local people know where the community centre is.Read more "City of London Attempts To Flatten All Opposition To Culture Mile Gentrification and Social Exclusion"
Disquiet over how the City of London council is able to operate because it is 80% elected on the business votes of non-residents and thus requires no democratic mandate from local people on anything it does, continues to rise. As Graeme Harrower notes, this is not an issue that is going to go away, and in our view not until there is democratic reform of this local authority. The range of voices speaking out against the business vote system does demonstrate that this is a burning issue with regard to democracy and not a party political matter.Read more "Graeme Harrower & City of London Residents Turn Their Fire On The Business Vote System"