Ongoing Exasperation With The City of London Council

Local residents’ anger with the City of London council is very evident in the latest issue of the fortnightly free sheet City Matters, a publication which also provides the head of this local authority with a regular column. It’s non-council columnists are usually anodyne but not in this issue! Billy Mann socks it to the City of London Corporation with the following words: “If anything can take the shine off neighbourly bliss it is the clumsiness of the council. A number of residents met recently with housing chief Paul Murtagh, who arrived in a foul mood…”

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City Should Use The Museum of London Site To Build Social Housing

Two weeks ago the government published its first ever housing delivery test – which assesses how many homes have been built by every local authority over the past three years as a percentage of the number required. More than 100 town halls fell short of the 95% pass rate, while those with the biggest delivery gaps could face having some planning powers removed next year unless they step up supply. Seven councils are currently missing the 45% threshold which would trigger that scenario, including two London boroughs and the City of London Corporation…

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Culture Mile: Tourists Go Home – Refugees Welcome!

Rather than exposing the City of London as the UK’s last rotten borough and exploring the area’s often disreputable history – the racist tropes cooked up by Protestant bigots in Grub Street, the violence and extra-legal activity around the Shrieval Election of 1682, or the notorious bawdy houses of Cripplegate etc. etc. – the Culture Mile has to date consisted of the super-bland artwashing. Instead of the proposed Centre of Music being built on the current Museum of London site, we’d rather see housing for refugees. Likewise there is already a huge daily footfall of visitors in the Culture Mile area and seeking to increase this will make life worse for its residents. Tourists aren’t wanted and nor are retail outlets selling overpriced goods to sightseers either.

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City of London’s Neo-Liberal Politics Puts Londoners’ Housing Needs Last

Those familiar with the City of London council will not be surprised by the news that after landing a huge grant from the Mayor of London’s housing investment scheme, it has quietly dropped its plan to build 3700 new council homes by 2025. Likewise it would be silly to take at all seriously the claim: “The corporation said its budget for building new homes had come under pressure…” The modest size of this ‘pressured’ budget is a political decision; the Corporation could cease spending the millions in interest generated by its City’s Cash sovereign wealth fund on lobbying for neo-liberal economic policies and instead use the money for house building. However this is unlikely to happen until there is democratic reform of the local authority and the council chamber ceases to be controlled by undemocratic business votes.

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Alison Gowman, Emine Erdogan & The City of London’s Vested Interests

Leaders at the City of London Corporation have been criticised after the prestigious Mansion House was used to honour the “humanitarian” work of the wife of the Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who has thrown thousands of his own people in jail. Emine Erdoğan was given an award by the Global Donors Forum at the prestigious venue “in recognition of her humanitarian service”. Her husband’s regime in Turkey is seen by many as brutal and dictatorial, increasingly run by a clique of his close family and friends.

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Giles Shilson, Freemasonry & Democratic Transparency at the City of London Council

We have previously addressed the opacity of a couple of council register of interest entries. Here we will deal with the same issue as regards Giles Shilson, a councillor for Bread Street ward. Despite the fact that he would appear to be a high flying freemason, Shilson failed to make an appearance in a recent Barbican Talk discussion that among other things attempted to work out the percentage of councilors who are masons – we suspect the figure mooted there is an underestimation. That Shilson is a freemason was not apparent to the City residents involved in this discussion because the way this is indicated on his register of interests is not transparent to many of those who do not belong to The Brotherhood, and will be seen by some as disingenuous.

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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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