Premier PR & City of London Artwashing

The idea that the City of London, the only place in the UK to maintain the utterly undemocratic business vote, wishes to ‘celebrate the positive impacts of… democracy’ is laughable. If this local authority wanted to celebrate democracy it would reform itself. Likewise, the City of London’s commitment to tolerance can be called into question on many counts, recently and quite notoriously because of the homophobic line of questioning a candidate for Lord Mayor was subjected to. The same goes for freedom. As for belief, there can be little doubt that the City believes in neo-liberal low regulation regimes that allow it and the network of tax havens it connects with to take wealth from those create it and divert it in the form of money to an undeserving corporate elite. None of this will prevent Premier PR from attempting to artwash the City of London as it promotes Believe! Faith, Freedom (and Football) and the culmination of Hannah Starkey’s deployment as Guildhall artist (AKA flunky) in residence, a series of portraits ‘celebrating City women’.

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City of London Unlikely To Reform Itself In Any Meaningful Way

At the beginning of this month we reposted a report by Rachel Millard from the Telegraph about Robert Rogers AKA Lord Lisvane being commissioned by the City of London Corporation to launch a review into how this local authority runs itself. We pointed out that rather than being an independent party, Rogers is a City insider who belongs to The Worshipful Company of Skinners, something missing from the Telegraph report we reposted a few weeks ago. On 11 February Rachel Millard followed up  her initial piece with a longer account of what’s going on, and this time she mentioned Rogers’ livery company membership.

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How Else Might Islington Bail Out The City Of London On Its Zero Emissions Consultation Fail?

Islington Bunhill councillor Phil Graham brought up a proposal to extend Fortune Street Park as the possible outcome of a scheme to prevent Golden Lane and Fortune Street becoming a rat run for traffic excluded from Beech Street and trying to avoid Old Street roundabout. Although Graham didn’t provide details, we assume this would mean extending the park onto at least the west end of Fortune Street itself and the closure and erasure of some or all of this side street. Turning much of Fortune Street into an extension of the local park is a fantastic idea and sadly one that was rejected a few years ago because it would become harder to access the services that run under that street. Hopefully those issues have been resolved and extending the park is now possible. There is a shortage of green space in the City and south Islington, and Fortune Street Park is clearly stretched to capacity both at lunchtimes and immediately after home time at local schools. That said, even with an extension to Fortune Street Park more public recreation space is required in both south Islington and the City.

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Will Robert Rogers’ Probe Into The City of London’s Corporate Governance Be A Joke?

The Telegraph reported today that the City of London Corporation has launched a review into how it is run following a string of controversies. The investigation is to be led by Robert Rogers AKA Lord Lisvane, hardly an independent figure since he is a City insider who belongs to The Worshipful Company of Skinners, and as such is entitled to vote on who is ‘elected’ lord mayor and as sheriffs at the council’s third chamber common hall. This rather leads us to suspect he may end up whitewashing matters such as the business vote and the need to abolish the role of lord mayor… however we’ll withhold judgement until we see what sort of review he produces. That said, he is not a figure who immediately inspires confidence since he is not independent. Given that the City of London is patently unfair, unaccountable and lacks transparency, the following assertion which The Telegraph attributes to a Corporation spokesperson in relation to this probe is particularly ominous: “We are beginning a review examining the City Corporation’s governance arrangements to ensure they are efficient, fair, transparent and accountable.”

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Graeme Harrower’s City of London Corportation Xmas Quiz

A significant part of the financial City lies outside the City’s boundaries: banks and professional services firms in Canary Wharf, and fund managers in Mayfair. There are no  business voters in these places, or in any other financial centre, like New York. No-one  complains that the absence of business voters in these places affects business. So why are business voters needed within the City’s boundaries?

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City of London Nervous The Public Is Learning How Lord Mayors Like William Russell Are Elected

Lord Mayors are chosen in private sessions that are conducted by Guildhall heavyweights. Some members of the Court of Common Council and the Court of Alderman believe the current process inhibits diverse candidates from being selected. In nearly 800 years there have been only two female Lord Mayors.

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City of London U-Turn On Aung San Suu Kyi

Portsoken councillor Munsur Ali, who tabled the original motion to revoke Suu Kyi’s award, told City A.M that the suspension decision represented a “watering down” of the Corporation’s original stance, but it was “better than nothing”. Another said it was an example of the Corporation going “weak at the knees whenever there is international pressure” and suggested other trading nations and the foreign office had criticised the decision to revoke. “It was a really unedifying spectacle of the Corporation retreating into its comfort zone and cosying up to power,” they added. Following the original vote to revoke the award, the corporation began the process of revoking the award. However, it is understood that during that process it decided to move towards suspension rather than revocation.

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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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Stuff The Centre For Music, City of London Shouldn’t Treat Hampstead Heath As A Cash Cow

It is reprehensible of the City of London Corporation to treat Hampstead Heath as a cash cow to be milked to cross-subsidise the financial Square Mile. Even worse, to suggest charging for the use of its ponds for swimming and bathing, when the fundamental purpose of the 1871 Hampstead Heath Act is to ensure that the Heath remains freely open to Londoners and unenclosed by gates or charges. Unfortunately, myopic bookkeepers in the Guildhall, lack the vision to understand an existing obligation from a new one and the relative importance of the legacy of Hampstead Heath. Where there is no vision, the people perish.

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Graeme Harrower & City of London Residents Turn Their Fire On The Business Vote System

Disquiet over how the City of London council is able to operate because it is 80% elected on the business votes of non-residents and thus requires no democratic mandate from local people on anything it does, continues to rise. As Graeme Harrower notes, this is not an issue that is going to go away, and in our view not until there is democratic reform of this local authority. The range of voices speaking out against the business vote system does demonstrate that this is a burning issue with regard to democracy and not a party political matter.

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