David Graves, the alderman (a councillor) for Cripplegate Ward reached the end of his six year term of office on 17 June 2020. The archaic conventions that govern this archaic public office require that upon the expiry of the term of office of an alderman, he or she submits a “letter of surrender“ to the lord mayor. When asked, Alderman Graves explained he had not submitted his “letter of surrender“ because: “given the current CV-19 concerns and limitations, I decided that to trigger a 42 day electoral process now would be inappropriate and unsuitable for the good conduct of a fair election.” But his submitting a “letter of surrender“ would not have triggered the 42 day electoral process. The letter would first need to be “received” by the Court of Aldermen. The Covid crisis is one of the few situations imaginable in which the Court could justifiably defer the start of the electoral process – but for no longer than necessary. Should not the time at which the electoral process starts be a matter for the Court of Aldermen to decide, rather than the alderman whose term of office has expired and who seeks re-election?Read more "Cripplegate Councillor David Graves Unilaterally Extends His Own Term Of Office"
The statues, institutional names and other memorials that have been under a media spotlight in recent weeks are the art and charity washing effluent of former times. It is right and proper that they should be removed from public spaces and put in storage. It is also worth noting that many of the slave trader memorials featured in recent news stories are for men who were in their time top City of London council officials including William Beckford and Robert Geffrye who were lord mayors, and John Cass who was a sheriff. One of the City’s current artwashing projects is the so-called Culture Mile. This consists both of grandiose projects such as a ridiculously expensive Centre For Music, and lesser ‘pop up’ programmes including last month’s Radio Local, which functioned to compromise those who involved themselves in it by drawing them into the City’s artwashing orbit and mixing together self-organised community initiatives such as a local food bank with the obnoxious animal cruelty operation Club Gascon (which masquerades as a restaurant and specialises in foie gras torture dishes).Read more "Culture Mile Is Now Artwashing Animal Cruelty Alongside Colonial & Neo-Colonial Crimes"
This is a partial list of public memorials in the City of London which commemorate individuals with links to slavery, colonialism and racism. We’ve drawn up this far from exhaustive inventory in part because we are not convinced the Tackling Racism Working Party announced by the City of London council on 11 June 2020 will deal effectively with this aspect of its remit (or indeed any aspect of it). Our lack of confidence is based on the council’s past record and in particular the ongoing refusal of Edward Lord as chair of the Establishment Committee to seriously address glass ceiling issues at the council. In contrast, until we see what it does we will withhold judgement on the Commission for Diversity in the Public Realm established by the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan on June 9, 2020 to review and access public tributes including statues and other landmarks. Both Khan’s Commission and the City’s Working Party ought to do much more than make recommendations on all the items listed beneath when it comes to dealing with the square mile. While it would be great to have all the memorials on our partial inventory removed or renamed, tackling other aspects of institutional racism and sexism is an even higher priority for us.Read more "List of Memorials In The City of London Linked To Slavery, Colonialism & Racism"
Although it is the COLPAI construction work to the north of Golden Lane Estate that we’ve given attention to in some recent posts, the ongoing work on Taylor Wimpey’s luxury investment flats The Denizen to the south is also making life difficult for those stuck at home during the current pandemic. Two days ago councillor Sue Pearson posted a statement she’d obtained from our local authority about government sanctioned extended working hours for construction sites to the GLERA website. The statement is probably more reassuring to Golden Lane Estate and Barbican residents suffering from the noise of work on The Denizen that operating hours there appear unlikely to be extended, than it is to Golden Lane Estate residents suffering intolerable stress from COLPAI construction during lockdown. Unlike The Denizen, whose entire site is within the City of London, the COLPAI project straddles the City/Islington border and so our local authority may try to pass the buck on decisions about working hours at the site to our neighbouring council, just as they attempted to do with the original COLPAI planning permission.Read more "City Construction & Lockdown Again"
The City Corporation could have joined the Mayor of London (Labour) and the local MP (Conservative) in calling on the Government to ban non-essential construction work, but has instead chosen to support such work by allowing it to continue on the Corporation’s own project, regardless of the harm this will do to residents in very close proximity. Unlike any other local authority, the City Corporation doesn’t need to worry about what its residents think, because only 20% of its councillors are elected in mainly residential wards; the other 80% are, uniquely, elected mainly by business voters, who typically have little interest in what their councillors do. This has for decades caused City residents to be poorly served by their council. When this crisis is over, that will finally need to be addressed. In the meantime, here on Golden Lane Estate most of the practical response to the crisis has come from volunteers in our own community, setting up a GLE Covid 19 HUB to support our neighbours in need. The City Corporation has played a very secondary role.Read more "City Of London’s Covid 19 Fail"
After the decimation of the culture industry and many other economic sectors caused by the Covid 19 lockdown, it would be obscene if the City of London went ahead with its over-priced vanity project for a new classical music venue on the site currently occupied by the Museum of London. We’re at the start of a huge recession and London already has all the classical concert halls it needs. The proposed £288 million spend could be much better used mitigating the economic toll the current pandemic will have on the lives of those living in the City of London and other London boroughs. The City council needs to cancel its plans for the unwanted Centre for Music now!Read more "We’re In Lockdown, Time To Cancel The Centre For Music Vanity Project"
A City resident obtained, through a freedom of information request, the following information about Michael Snyder, a supporter of the proposed expansion of the City of London School for Girls. I thought you might want to have it by way of background. He became a City councillor in 1986. He has been a member of the Policy and Resources Committee for 22 years. He joined it in 1997, and was Chair from 2005 -2007 and Deputy Chair in 2008. He has been on the Board of Governors of the CLSG for 29 years, from 1989 to 2013 and from 2014 to the present. He was Chair from 2014 -2016 and Deputy Chair in 1990. I have checked with the Town Clerk’s department on whether there is maximum period for which a member can sit on either of these bodies. The answer is no. In fact, there is no maximum length of service on any City committee or board except the Audit and Risk Management Committee and the Standards Committee, which have a regulatory function, and the Barbican Centre Board and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, which are “high status” appointments that many members covet.Read more "City of London Residents Battle Their Council To Save The Barbican"
“In the Dispensations Sub-Committee meeting on 4 June, a “co-opted” (meaning unelected) member rejected the notion that residential councillors should be trusted to exercise their judgment, because in future the “wrong sort of person might join the Corporation”. Since the only way a person can join the Corporation as a member is to be elected, the concern must be that City residents might in future elect the “wrong sort of person”. The residents are therefore being told that not only are they “confused” (as the Standards Chair called them in response to the petition), but that they must also be protected from the consequences of their voting decisions. The Standards Committee itself prefers to decide, through less than a handful of its own members, when resident councillors can speak and vote on matters which affect them and their constituents equally, but the answer – when it comes to voting, which is more important – is usually “no”. So decisions affecting residents may end up being taken by councillors who have no knowledge of the residents’ area. Most of those councillors are likely to represent business wards, so they may have no interest in residents’ concerns at all. The Standards Committee’s policy is therefore a barrier to democracy.”Read more "City of London Gagging Row Latest"
Aside from the business vote system, a major focus of the dissatisfaction of City of London residents with the undemocratic set up of their council has been its so-called Standards Committee. One concern has been the gagging of resident elected councillors by an inflexible dispensations policy, while the same committee is apparently unconcerned about potential conflicts of interest on the part of the 80% of councillors undemocratically elected on business votes and representing the interests of the finance and legal industries. Another big issue has been the willingness of the Standards Committee to allow various freemasonic lodges to meet for free or at discounted rates on council property. Given that as this blog has documented, members of the Guildhall Lodge are massively over-represented in top council posts – such as Lord Mayor – and so are men, these men only lodges should not be allowed to meet on council premises – let alone for free or at discounted rates. This is an equality issue.Read more "Ian Luder, Freemasonry & The City of London Standards Committee"
At the Barbican’s theatre, cinema and arts complex surveillance is being boosted with 65 high-definition cameras, making a total of 159 all-seeing lenses across the estate. Public documents reveal that 16 of these have the capability to provide “recognition” scanning of people or places. Features include two-way audio, potentially allowing controllers to listen in, and the ability to pinpoint potential suspects in crowds. The internet-connected equipment was approved last month by the City of London Corporation. The surveillance upgrade was applied for at the same time as a wider City police security review — which reportedly could include “widespread integration” with private CCTV networks.Read more "City of London’s Culture Mile Exposed As A Surveillance Dystopia"