James Thomson Becoming Chair Of City Of London Police Authority Board Further Undermines Public Confidence

A news splash on the City of London council website yesterday announced that James Thomson has been elected as chairman of the City of London Police Authority Board. While this will surprise few who follow City of London politics – since Thomson has been on the board for the past five years and has occupied the post of deputy chairman for the past three – it will nevertheless further undermine public confidence in the City of London Police because of a series of controversies that continue to swirl around this councillor.

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COLPAI Construction Work, Lockdown & The Democratic Reform Of The City

The failure to suspend construction work on the City of London’s COLPAI project during the Covid 19 pandemic lockdown has generated enormous anger among residents of this local authority’s Golden Lane Estate. This is hardly surprising given these residents found themselves stuck at home a few metres from non-essential but ongoing noisy building work. Critical blogs on the subject by local councillors Sue Pearson and Graeme Harrower have been avidly read. Some of the comments beneath them are heart wrenching, such as one written by the father of a sick child undergoing treatment for cancer. This entire family must remain in isolation due to the high risk the pandemic poses to its youngest child. while the mega-rich City of London council turns a deaf ear on their plight.

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Another City of London Policing Fail

Sadly we weren’t surprised by to see a Which? report earlier this month about an IT glitch at City of London Police that stalled the processing of more than 300,000 crime reports. For as long as the Court of Common Council acts as the police authority for this force there is no proper democratic oversight of the City of London police, and this also undermines public confidence in its officers. While the Court of Common Council is elected this is mostly on undemocratic business votes, rather than by residents, something very different to how police and crime commissioners are chosen elsewhere in the UK. As we’ve said before, the current deputy chairman of the council’s police committee is James Thomson and there are questions still to be answered about his vote – and that of Christopher Hayward also on the police committee – in favour of granting planning permission for Taylor Wimpey’s The Denizen on the site of Bernard Morgan House, a City of London Police property sold to developers at what many see as an inflated price. Aside from the potential conflict of interest over attempting to fix a blown police budget, Thomson and Hayward – and another councillor Sir Michael Bear – also have yet to explain why they felt able to vote in favour of planning permission for The Denizen despite roles at firms who worked with Taylor Wimpey

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City of London’s Policing Fail

One reason for the disproportion number of attacks on City of London Police would seem to be a lack of public confidence in this rather anachronistic force. In our view the biggest problem is having the Court of Common Council acting as the police authority for the City of London Police. If this was changed to a more regular form of oversight, then police officers in the City would be both safer and better able to carry out their duties because people would have greater faith in them. While the Court of Common Council is elected this is mostly on undemocratic business votes, rather than by residents, something very different to how police and crime commissioners are chosen elsewhere in the UK. The current deputy chairman of the council’s police committee is James Thomson and there are questions still to be answered about his vote – and that of Christopher Hayward also on the police committee – in favour of granting planning permission for Taylor Wimpey’s The Denizen on the site of Bernard Morgan House, a City of London Police property sold to developers at what many see as an inflated price. Aside from the potential conflict of interest over attempting to fix a blown police budget, Thomson and Hayward – and another councillor Sir Michael Bear – also have yet to explain why they felt able to vote in favour of planning permission for The Denizen despite roles at firms who worked with Taylor Wimpey.

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The Denizen & The City of London Police Budget Again

Several years on and as we’ve said before we’re still waiting for the potential conflicts of interest involving planning permission being granted to Taylor Wimpey’s The Denizen development in Golden Lane – on the site that was formerly home to the Bernard Morgan House police accommodation – to be properly addressed by the City of London council. The issue has been reported in The Guardian, Daily Mail and elsewhere; it involved Chris Hayward, ‘Sir’ Michael Bear and James Thomson. Meanwhile the matter has just popped up yet again in the form of the blown City of London police budget. It doesn’t seem unreasonable to conclude that aside from their links to Taylor Wimpey, Hayward and Thomson should have perhaps also declared their role on the police committee as another potential conflict of interest before they voted in favour of giving planning permission to this constructor to build The Denizen on the site of Bernard Morgan House. The price paid for the site would have been untenable had Taylor Wimpey’s contentious planning application not scraped through.

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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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Top Jobs for the Lodge Boys as Chris Hayward and Michael Mainelli are ‘Elected’ City of London Sheriffs

The City of London has never been embarrassed to disproportionately over-represent not just men but freemasons in its top posts, so it came as little surprise when the council’s website announced on 24 June 2019 that lodge members Chris Hayward and Michael Mainelli had been elected City of London sheriffs. The post of sheriff is one down from Lord Mayor and to get that top job one must first be a aldermanic sheriff, the post won by Mainelli, who as we have already discussed is a member of the Guildhall Lodge of freemasons like more than two-thirds of Lord Mayor’s of London since this organisation was established in 1905. Given such a massive over-representation of freemasons in top posts at the City of London, the fact the men only Guildhall Lodge and others are allow to meet for free and/or at subsidised rates on council premises is an equality issue, as we’ve discussed in numerous previous posts, since these ‘fraternities’ play a key role in maintaining a glass ceiling at the City of London council that prevents women getting a shot at top roles.

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City of London Gives Its Residents The Finger In Ongoing Gagging Row

If the City of London and its spokespeople wished to be taken seriously by those it fails to serve and in particular the many Cripplegate ward residents who signed the petition calling for reform of its Standards Committee, then they would have addressed the issues that led to this blog being started – potential conflicts of interest – instead of brushing them off. In the same manner and with the same disdain, this utterly undemocratic local authority brushes off the gagging of councillors who attempt to represent the views of local people as ‘justified’ by rules that apparently don’t apply to the majority in its chambers who speak on behalf of the finance and legal industries.

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City of London Loses The Plot In Its Crusade Against Democracy

The City of London is not democratic because this council is elected mostly on business votes given to the likes of bankers who don’t live within its local authority boundaries. As a result it ignores local residents’ interests and instead spends millions of pounds a year lobbying for neo-liberal causes. We’ve also seen the council’s former leader Mark Boleat agitate for the removal of democracy from other UK councils when it comes to planning decisions, and this was done with the financial backing of the City of London Corporation. Likewise, the City of London Standards Committee appears incapable of properly addressing conflict of interest and inclusion issues when it comes to subsidising freemasonic activity by its members and their friends. That said, a story that appeared in a couple of local newspapers this week shows that the Standards Committee and their supporters in the City of London have now totally lost the plot with regard to their rabid attitudes toward local residents and democracy.

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