The results of the City of London’s Historic Landmarks Consultation are in and they are exactly the PR farce we predicted when we wrote about it back in September 2020, concluding: Our guess is the City of London will remove the Cass and Beckford statues from the Guildhall in a miserable attempt at appearing enlightened but it will fail to make more meaningful changes that would lessen the grip on power of middle-aged white men at this local authority. While we’d like to see the Cass and Beckford statues removed, it’s clear that abolishing the business vote would have a much more beneficial effect in terms of inclusion and diversity. Memorials may be the most visible aspect of institutional racism but our anti-racist work does not stop with their removal, it must go on to utterly transform both institutionally racist organisations – such as the City of London council – and the world.Read more "Beckford & Cass Guildhall Slaver Statues To Go But City Still Failing On Diversity"
The City of London’s medieval play acting would be an eccentric but harmless activity if the aldermen were just members of a historical re-enactment society. But they aren’t: they hold public office, and participate in decisions that affect City residents lives, often badly. The fact that the “the public aspects of aldermanic proceedings” have been conducted in secret, will continue to be so for the next three to four months, and may still be so after then – since there is no certainty that the “options for further discussion” will produce change – should be a scandal. So should the fact that two aldermen have overstayed their electoral mandates by five and six months…Read more "The Court Of Alderman Fiddles As Common Councillor Tom Sleigh Burns!"
The City of London council has yet to evolve from its feudal form and is still divided into three chambers. At the bottom is common hall made up of unelected livery company members who pretty much rubber stamp what the upper chamber tells them to do when electing lord mayors and sheriffs. Then there is the court of common council and an upper chamber called the court of aldermen. The councillors who sit in the courts are ‘elected’ rotten borough style by tiny numbers of people most of whom don’t live in the City – but who under the business vote system are allowed to vote where they work as well as where they live. Obviously this charade is in urgent need of democratic reform and questioning every aspect of the council’s arcane practices can contribute to that – which is what Graeme Harrower, a rare sane voice at the Guildhall, is doing. Here Harrower draws attention to a meeting on 8 December 2020 at which the aldermen will be discussing why they meet in private (and doing so in private).Read more "Why Do The City of London’s Senior Councillors Exclude The Public From Their Meetings?"
When we began our look at the huge overlap between the slave trading Royal Africa Company and the City of London council we quoted Historic England on this entanglement. We chose this particular source because it emphasised that the Guildhall (the City of London council offices) was a centre of the slave trade. That said we could see that the numbers used were drawn from the book The Royal African Company by K. G. Davies (Longmans Green, 1957), since on pages 68/69 Davies states: “Fifteen of the Lord Mayors of London, between the Restoration and the Revolution, and twenty-five of the Sheriffs were shareholders in the company, as were thirty-eight of the men elected or appointed aldermen between 1672 and 1690.” Historic England use the same figures and time frame in what we quoted from them. It’s important to understand that these numbers do not cover the overlaps between the City of London council and the Royal Africa Society during the entire history of this slave trading operation, just its earlier phase.Read more "The City of London & The Slave Trade Part 2"
The current chairman of the City of London council’s police committee is James Thomson and there are questions still to be answered about his vote – and that of Christopher Hayward also (then) 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 (now retired) – 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 "James Thomson, The City of London Police And The Rogers Report"
Lord Lisvane uses his unbelievably uncritical report on governance at the City of London council to tout for further business by offering to redraft the Court’s standing orders (para 147) and providing future assistance (para 551). But the message sent through the response of many councillors – who mostly don’t like his suggestions of very mild reforms – is “don’t call us, we’ll call you”. Imagine the stink if Lisvane had suggested abolishing the undemocratic business vote! A freedom of Information request has revealed that his report cost the Corporation £15,000. No wonder he’d welcome some more work!Read more "Graeme Harrower On The Rogers Report And Postponed Local Elections"
Despite it being well-established that the lord mayor only holds office for a a year, the City of London council does what suits it and William Russell is all set for an extended two-year term. This would seem to have more to do with the public exposure of homophobia within the court of aldermen being directed against Tim Hailes – who had been set to become the City’s first openly gay lord mayor this year – than the Covid-19 pandemic which has been used to justify Russell’s double term. Russell staying on is less likely to generate press comment on the endless reactionary political manoeuvring at our council than someone other than Hailes taking up the post this year. Ultimately the predominantly cis white wealthy male court of alderman does not provide a suitable pool of talent for the high profile public office of Lord Mayor of London.Read more "Rescind Extended Terms For Lord Mayor William Russell And The City Sheriffs!"
The pretence that the Culture Mile is a collaborative project between the City of London council and what it presents as ‘independent’ organisations is patently absurd. As the Rogers Report shows, the organisations the Corporation claims to be collaborating with are actually extensions of the council and controlled by the council. The Culture Mile, as we’ve previously pointed out is a cynical exercise in marginalisation and social exclusion. We have also made it clear that the Centre for Music is unwanted and the project should be scrapped. Rogers calls the Centre for Music ‘speculative’ but plenty of money has already been wasted on it and an architectural practice has been engaged to draw up building plans. However, we don’t just want to see plans for a Centre for Music scrapped, the entire Culture Mile project should be knocked on the head since it runs counter to the interests of many residents both in the City of London itself and in the neighbouring Islington wards such as Bunhill.Read more "Barbican Centre, Culture Mile And The Rogers Report"
Abolition would actually be the best way to deal with the City of London, but even if that does not happen the business vote must be abolished and the number of councillors reduced in line with councillor-resident ratios in the rest of London. Around two councillors, down from 125 (100 common councillors plus 25 aldermen), would make things proportionate – although two councillors does not really justify the existence of a City of London council. On the basis of the figures Rogers reproduces in his report it is clear that City of London councillors need only a handful of votes to get elected and even Rogers admits the system can be easily manipulated by small cliques. This isn’t democracy, it is a sham and the reason why the City of London has quite rightly acquired the nickname the last rotten borough.Read more "Rogers Report On City Governance Says Our Council is ‘Sclerotic’, We’d Call It Toxic"
At its most recent meeting, the City of London council passed a motion which welcomed Hong Kong residents pursuant to the British Government’s offer to them of extended resident rights in the UK, and criticised China’s imposition of a new national security law on Hong Kong. Will the Lord Mayor and Chair of Policy and Resources respect the will of the council by ceasing to deal with China in a way that avoids criticising it for human rights abuses? As part of that new approach, will they take the lead in reversing the decision to exclude Taiwan from the Lord Mayor’s Show, which was made on political grounds to appease the People’s Republic of China?Read more "The City of London Council Motion On Hong Kong"