City of London councillor Tom Hoffman’s desire to celebrate the four hundredth anniversary of the Mayflower and the Pilgrim Fathers is deeply problematic. Here we will focus only on local colonial issues, although obviously the global aspects of this colonialism should be borne in mind too. Those onboard the Mayflower were English Protestants known at the time as Puritans because they sought to ‘purify’ their religious practices of Roman Catholic influences and maintained that the Church of England had not been fully reformed. The City has longstanding connections to both Protestantism in its Puritan forms and the colonial atrocities associated with this. Much of modern racism was invented and elaborated by hack writers from the Grub Street area on the edge of the City, and it was they who first depicted Irish Catholics as apes, a racist slur subsequently transferred to Africans. This is what Hoffman is celebrating.
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.Read more "Culture Mile: Tourists Go Home – Refugees Welcome!"
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.Read more "Chris Hayward, Mark Boleat, The Denizen & A Housing Market Rotting From The Top"
In recent days the press have been reporting on Robert Davis as a ‘councillor under fire over ludicrous levels of hospitality’ entailing ’60 visits to the theatre, 10 foreign trips, 296 free meals’. One of Davis’s former Conservative colleagues on Westminster City Council, Alastair Moss, is currently deputy chair of planning at the neighbouring City of London council.Read more "Alastair Moss: The City Of London’s Putin Of Planning"
We’re still waiting for the potential conflicts of interests involving planning permission being granted to Taylor Wimpey’s The Denizen development in Golden Lane to be properly addressed by the City of London council (as reported in The Guardian, Daily Mail and elsewhere); these involved Chris Hayward, ‘Sir’ Michael Bear and James Thomson. Meanwhile, this issue just keeps popping up in new guises. While it was heartening to see Bear step down as a councillor late last year (although we don’t know why he did so), the City’s awarding of contracts to Thomson’s Keepmoat continues to rankle Cripplegate residents, and Chris Hayward has strayed back into the probity spotlight for a variety of reasons.Read more "Chris Hayward Still Out To Lunch on Public Perceptions of Probity!"
The aldermanic election in Portsoken on 14 December 2014 provides a peek into the surreal nature of City politics. Despite three out of four candidates standing as independents, at least two of these ‘independents’ had binding party political affiliations. Labour have caused a bit of an upset in the City in recent years by successfully standing official candidates for election in three out of four ‘residential’ wards, Portsoken, Aldersgate and Cripplegate.Read more "Portsoken Election Demonstrates Urgent Need For City Reform"
The new Lord Mayor of London is Charles Bowman and he’s been saying repeatedly he wants the public to trust the City. If Bowman is serious about making public trust his priority while he’s the Lord Mayor, he should be reforming the undemocratic and anachronistic political system in the City of London. He could start by abolishing the business vote and the office of alderman, he is after all the first among equals in the latter. He also needs to address the question of vested interests and make sure firms like Keepmoat who have (or have recently had) top management sitting on the City of London council, aren’t given contracts by this local authority. Bowman needs to ‘Keep Keepmoat Out Of The City’.Read more "Charles Bowman Wants You To Trust The City!"