The City of London has an entirely different system of local government to the rest of the UK; and one that is completely undemocratic. This is unfair to the residents of the borough and requires immediate rectification. The decision of the Corporation’s Planning Committee to approve the demolition of the architecturally significant Bernard Morgan House, and to allow Taylor Wimpey to build an over-scaled luxury apartment block on the site is indicative of all that’s wrong with this council. The Gerrymander Mansions development is deeply unpopular with local residents because it will block huge amounts of light from local housing, schools and a heavily used park. It also replaces social housing with private ghost homes that will be bought as investments and may never be lived in.
We have addressed potential conflict of interest issues and the vote rigging implications of this decision elsewhere. What we wish to underline here is that neither the Planning Committee nor the council has a mandate from local people and therefore their decisions are illegitimate. The City of London is the only place in the UK to retain the business vote, and there are roughly twice as many of these as residential votes. The ward boundaries and Alderman system also favour business over people.
The Gerrymander Mansions planning application was green lighted on the basis of 13 in favour and 10 against. We have now identified two of the committee members who didn’t vote; an unidentified third non-voter who was present is to be found somewhere in the list below. We have broken down the members of the committee who didn’t oppose this application into those who were elected on a business vote, and those who received a residential vote; City of London wards are treated as falling into one of these two categories. The only councillor elected in a residential ward who was in favour of the application was Brian Mooney, who received a total of 85 votes in March 2017 (that is all the votes he got, NOT a majority). He was elected in Queenhithe, by the river and at the opposite end of the borough from where the planned development will be sited, so it won’t affect those who voted for him.
The City of London council has a bicameral structure, with Aldermen not having to stand in (common) council elections; by convention they put themselves up to be re-elected every six years but these polls are staggered on a one by one basis. Therefore Aldermen received no votes in the council elections in March this year; this office should in any case be abolished because it skews representation in favour of smaller wards and the business vote. Beneath we give the votes received by all councillors present for the 23 May 2017 committee meeting who didn’t oppose Taylor’s Wimpey’s planning application – and what you’ll see are overwhelmingly undemocratic business votes. Again we wish to stress that despite being very low these figures are NOT majorities but the TOTAL number of votes received.
While Sue Pearson, the councillor who received the most votes in the March 2017 election sits on the Planning Committee, she was informed she had a conflict of interest; apparently this was because she had voiced objections to the Gerrymander Mansions scheme. She was elected with the biggest vote precisely because local people in Cripplegate wanted her to object to the proposed Taylor Wimpey development. Pearson got 558 votes, over 100 more than any other candidate in the borough. Despite this she didn’t get to express the people’s will by voting against the Gerrymander Mansions planning application. The decision and the council responsible for it stink!
TOTAL NUMBER OF VOTES IN MARCH 2017 COUNCIL ELECTION FOR THOSE PRESENT AT 23 MAY 2017 MEETING WHO DIDN’T OPPOSE THE TAYLOR WIMPEY PLANNING APPLICATION: SPLIT INTO RESIDENTIAL AND BUSINESS VOTE WARDS & ORGANISED HIGHEST TO LOWEST
Stood in residential ward
Brian Desmond Francis Mooney, Queenhithe. 85 residential votes.
Stood in business vote ward
Paul Nicholas Martinelli, Farringdon Without. 410 business votes.
William Upton, Farringdon Without. 390 business votes.
Emma Edhem AKA Emetullah Edhem, Castle Barnard. 225 business votes.
Graeme Martyn Smith, Farringdon Within. 159 business votes.
Henry Nicholas Almroth Colthurst, Lime Street. 115 business votes.
James Michael Douglas Thomson, Walbrook. 113 business votes.
James Henry George Pollard AKA Henry Pollard, Dowgate. 112 business votes.
Judith Lindsay Pleasance, Langbourn. 82 business votes.
Mark John Boleat, Cordwainer. 77 business votes.
Robert James Ingham Clark AKA Jamie Ingham Clark, Billingsgate. 40 business votes
Christopher Michael Hayward, Broad Street. Committee chair. Elected unopposed in 2017 council elections, 0 votes.
Andrew Paul Mayer, Bishopsgate. Elected unopposed in 2017 council elections, 0 votes.
Michael David Bear. Alderman for residential ward Portsoken – didn’t have to participate in 2017 council election, 0 votes.
Robert Picton Seymour Howard Alderman for business ward Cornhill – didn’t have to participate in 2017 election, 0 votes. Elected 13 October 2015 with 137 business votes.
Arrived late & therefore didn’t vote
Havilland James de Sausmarez, Candlewick. 113 business votes
Left early due to meeting over-running & therefore didn’t vote
Rehana Banu Ameer, Vintry. 74 business votes.
NOTE: The full results of the March 2017 local election can be downloaded as a PDF from the Corporation of London website. The web address is ‘democracy.cityoflondon.gov.uk’ – the first word here is a bare faced lie since the most notable thing about this borough is its lack of democracy. If there is an entry for Michael Bear’s last election as Alderman we couldn’t find it. His seat may have been uncontested. The oldest Alderman election result we could find on the Corporation of London site was Howard’s in October 2015.
Fight plutocracy! Reform local government in the City of London!
Fight financial dictatorship! Abolish the business vote!
Call in the electoral commission & give it jurisdiction to establish democracy in the City of London!
Stop Taylor Wimpey’s Gerrymander Mansions Luxury Development In Golden Lane!
End Corporation of London tyranny now!