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.Read more "James Thomson Becoming Chair Of City Of London Police Authority Board Further Undermines Public Confidence"
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.Read more "City of London’s Policing Fail"
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.Read more "The Denizen & The City of London Police Budget Again"
“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"
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.Read more "There Are Still Questions About Michael Bear We Want Answered"
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.Read more "City of London Gives Its Residents The Finger In Ongoing Gagging Row"
The City of London police investigates economic crime in Britain and runs Action Fraud, a national reporting service. City of London police received almost £29 million in funding from banking and insurance trade bodies over the past five years in an arrangement that has been attacked as a “serious conflict of interest”. The force, Britain’s leading constabulary for investigating economic crime, received £17 million from the Association of British Insurers (ABI) and a further £11.8 million from UK Finance, the banking industry group, between 2013 and 2018.Read more "Can City of London Police Effectively Investigate Economic Crime While Receiving Funding From The Finance Industry?"
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.Read more "City of London Loses The Plot In Its Crusade Against Democracy"
As we reported back in February this year concerns about potential conflicts of interest over planning permission being granted to Taylor Wimpey to build luxury apartments on the site of Bernard Morgan House now include speculation this former police building might have been sold to help cover a blown police budget. The focus of attention then was very much City of London common councillors James Thomson and Chris Hayward because of their involvements with both the planning and police committees. In a Sun ‘exclusive’ last week it was reported that top City of London cop Chief Superintendent Dave Clark was under investigation for ‘allegedly using secret information to help pals win crime contracts.’ If it turns out these allegations have any substance to them, we’d be very interested to know whether activities of the type being investigated contributed to the blown police budget.Read more "The City of London Police Budget Deficit, Taylor Wimpey’s The Denizen & Top Cop Dave Clark"
Anyone who cares to do a web search will find that a number of conspiracy sites list ‘Sir’ Michael Bear as the 683rd Lord Mayor of London and a Freemason belonging to the Guildhall Lodge #3116. That said, for those concerned with social justice, the speculative masonry of City of London councillors is of little interest; we are much more concerned about operative masonry – the connections between these men and urban ‘regeneration’ schemes, as well as the building and construction industry.Read more "Is ‘Sir’ Michael Bear’s Declaration Of Interests On The Square?"