There Are Still Questions About Michael Bear We Want Answered

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.

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Ongoing Fiasco Over City of London School For Girls Expansion

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.

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Yet Another Threat To City Of London Communities & Their Heritage!

Developers are trying to build a giant 21-storey tower block just three metres from Bevis Marks Synagogue, the historic and world-famous Sephardi shul in the City of London. Jews with a connection to the iconic building (and local gentiles fed up with the ongoing disregard of community needs and the richness of our architectural heritage, represented by this and other ‘developments’ such as The Denizen) now have less than two weeks to object, after a planning application was submitted for the glass-fronted retail and office block rising skywards just yards from the UK’s oldest synagogue. Sephardi leaders in the UK said it would “tower over” the Grade I listed 300-year old building and are now “calling the community to action,” urging people to write and tell City of London planners what they think.

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William Russell, Barker Bridge, The City of London, Cronyism & Self-Aggrandisement

Many see the City of London as an old boys network shot through with nepotism. The fact that councillor William Russell has already occupied the position of aldermanic sheriff and looks set to become a Lord Mayor is indicative of this. Russell’s great grandfather Frank Bowater was Lord Mayor of London 1938-1939. Frank Bowater’s older brother Thomas Vansittart Bowater was Lord Mayor of London 1913-1914 and also a conservative MP for the City from 1924 to 1938. Frank Bowater’s oldest son Noel Vansittart Bowater was Lord Mayor of London 1953-1954. Frank Bowater’s youngest son Ian Frank Bowater – William Russell’s grandfather – was Lord Mayor of London 1969-1970. If William Russell becomes the fifth member of his family to be Lord Mayor of London in just over 100 years, this can justly be perceived as dynastic and will serve to underscore that a local authority elected on business votes can never be meritocratic. Even the ultra-reactionary City A.M. rag has used the old boy phrase when covering Russell’s rise through this local authority’s hierarchy.

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James Thomson, Public Perceptions of Probity & Jobs for the City Boys

Is there a conflict of interest in having a member of Keepmoat’s board of directors as a Common Councillor? The City of London says: “I can confirm that the Member to which you refer has had no input, bearing or influence on this tender evaluation whatsoever.” It isn’t good enough for the City of London to baldly state council member James Thomson had no influence on the tender evaluation, an independent inquiry into whether Thomson’s status as a friend and colleague of at least some of those who made the decision would be much more appropriate.

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James Thomson & The City of London Property Development Lobby

At a City of London planning committee meeting last year both James Thomson and Mark Boleat voted in favour of Taylor Wimpey’s The Denizen development; this will replace 110 social housing units with 99 over-priced luxury flats and with no on site social or affordable housing. This demonstrates exactly where both men are coming from on housing issues. It’s all about money-making over local social need. James Thomson was formerly deputy chief financial officer and chief operations officer of Cushman and Wakefield, commercial property and real estate consultants, which marketed and sold the site he voted to grant planning permission for to Taylor Wimpey. Likewise, the local authority to which Thomson has been ‘elected’ doesn’t seem in the least bit bothered about how it looks when it gives work to the company of which he is the CEO.

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Chris Hayward, Mark Boleat, The Denizen & A Housing Market Rotting From The Top

Curious isn’t it that at least two City of London councillors responsible for poor planning decisions as regards housing in Cripplegate also happen to live in the suburban Three Rivers district that has recently been flagged up as suffering from spiralling homelessness. What’s more one of them, Chris Hayward, is actually a councillor in that part of Hertfordshire. The other, Mark Boleat, is chair of the Housing & Finance Institute – which lobbies on behalf of property developers, is backed financially by the Corporation of London, and punts what it calls ‘solutions’ to the so-called housing crisis that will only make matters worse.

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