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.
City residents will have recently had a copy of the June issue of City View: The Magazine of the City of London Corporation drop through their letterbox. The whole of page 3 is dedicated to the proposal/done deal to relocate three ‘historic’ markets to a new site in Dagenham. Funds are being raised for this move and other projects on the basis it is a done deal, while at the same time City residents and other stakeholders are told this ‘proposal’ is the City’s preferred option and they are being consulted about it. This, like all City consultations is a PR exercise in rubber-stamping a decision that has already been made.Read more "City of London ‘Consultations’ Are A Sham Designed To Rubber Stamp Decisions That Have Already Been Made"
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.Read more "William Russell, Barker Bridge, The City of London, Cronyism & Self-Aggrandisement"
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!"
If the Culture Mile is supposed to attract international visitors to the City of London as a beacon of the arts, it’s clearly stupid to use imperial rather than metric measurements for this branded name. While one can see that the bureaucrats who chose this designation were trying to invoke the area’s half-forgotten nickname of The Square Mile, such fusty terminology won’t help them ‘half-inch’ renown as a major European cultural destination from elsewhere. Imperial measurements aren’t a part of forward-looking international arts zones, metric ones are!Read more "The Culture Mile is a branding disaster, give us a democratic kilometre!"