Sue Pearson Fights City’s Anti-Democratic Gagging Of Residents’ Views

The message below was circulated by email earlier today and is reproduced without permission – although we hope Sue Pearson will be happy for us to reuse it. We have covered the City of London council’s attempted intimidation and gagging of Sue Pearson before. She needs support as part of the ongoing fight for democracy in this rotten borough; a fight which also entails abolishing the City of London’s feudal business vote and other reforms that include a reduction to the number of councillors in this local authority area to match the number of residential voters (to place it on a par with other London boroughs). Below Sue Pearson talks of herself and 99 councillors in the City, this refers to those elected to the Court of Common Council – there are also another 25 councillors elected to an upper chamber called the Court of Aldermen.

Dear Fellow Residents

I am the only City of London councillor who lives on Golden Lane Estate. I am being prevented from properly representing you, and from protecting and promoting our interests.

You can help change this – in fact you may already have signed the petition that has been circulating the estate for the last week.

Just in case you haven’t had a chance to speak to me or one of the residents helping to gather signatures here’s a little background:

Two years ago, I was elected with 558 votes – far more than any of the other 99 councillors in the City. I do not belong to a political party, and have no interest in a political career. I believe I got this mandate because residents wanted someone to stand up to the City Corporation and oppose its neglect of our wonderful Estate.

A year ago I successfully opposed the City Corporation’s attempt to delegate the planning decision on its own COLPAI (City of London Primary Academy Islington) development to Islington, meaning that all planning decisions about the development would have been made by Islington alone even though that development would affect us more than Islington residents.

Shortly after this, the City Corporation referred me to the police for prosecution, and to its own “standards committee” for an alleged breach of the code of conduct. Its reason was that I had a “pecuniary interest” in the delegation decision, even though it had never argued that that decision could have had any effect on the value of my flat.

You can read more about this in the City AM articles City of London Corporation caught in ‘gagging’ row after referring resident Councillor to City of London Police and City of London Corporation chiefs seek rule change after ‘gagging’ row.

In other local authorities, resident councillors are typically granted a “dispensation” for their full term of office to speak and vote on any matter which affects the area in which they live, as long as their interest is declared and it isn’t unique or special to them.

Last December, a colleague put two motions to the City Council to reform the “standards” regime. The first one resulted in the Council compelling the “standards committee” to partially relax its over-restrictive policy, but it’s already clear that the policy is still far too restrictive. Not even a debate was allowed on the second motion, which was to reform the tribunal proceedings.

Here’s what we can do

A few councillors and residents have drafted a petition for residents to sign, calling on the City Council to make immediate and fundamental reforms to its “standards“ regime. We’re now collecting signatures in a number of wards in the City. We have been out and about knocking on doors and it has been a great opportunity to hear more about the issues that matter to us all.

We’ll be out again over the weekend and I’ll also be in the (Golden Lane) Community Centre today (Thursday 11 April) from 12.00 to 14.00 and 19.00 to 20.00. Please do drop by and add your signature.

The petition will be handed to the City Corporation on 15 April, to be presented to the Council meeting on 25 April.

There are around 6,000 resident voters in the City. We hope we can get towards 1,000 signatures, which will send a powerful message to the City Council that its residents should have the same level of representation as residents of other local authorities.


With all bests wishes, Sue Pearson


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