Catherine McGuinness and those around her who are engaged in a crusade against democracy have ensured that virtually nothing has changed in terms of the feudal power dynamics and secrecy at the City of London council. Potential conflict of interest issues as regards Sir Michael Bear, James Thomson and Chris Hayward aired in the national press still require satisfactory answers, as do many other related questions that local residents want addressed – such the hiring of councillor James Thomson’s Keepmoat company to do housing repairs and the discussions of the Standards Committee on the free and subsidised use of council premises by men only masonic lodges. While Graeme Harrower’s proposals were an improvement on the status quo, for us they did not go nearly far enough in terms reforming the City of London. That said, even Harrower’s attempt at tiny improvements was obviously way too much for the enemies of democracy who control the council. The democratic reform required to enable residents’ voices to be heard is the glaringly obvious one of abolishing the business vote!
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"
Overtourism occurs when there are too many visitors to a particular destination. “Too many” is subjective but it can be defined in different destinations by key stakeholders; and in the case of residential areas such as Cripplegate it is the needs of local residents that should be prioritised. When rent rises push out local retailers to make room for bars, restaurants and shops selling luxury goods and trinkets to tourists, that is overtourism. When you can’t get around because walkways are jammed with sightseers and visitors attending middle-brow ‘art’ events, that is overtourism. When tourists cannot view landmarks or transient cultural manifestations because of the crowds, when fragile ensembles of listed buildings become degraded, when street art is being commissioned by the local authority and covered with Perspex to protect it, when there are huge signs installed on walls to inform passersby about public art, when accommodation for key workers is replaced by luxury apartments aimed at property investors who’ll leave them empty and bank on a overheated housing market to reap them a profit – these are all signs of overtourism, as well as gentrification and social cleansing. And these are all things currently happening in Cripplegate and Aldersgate and which the City of London’s Culture Mile strategy is designed to exacerbate.Read more "Cripplegate Is Not Disneyland! Stop Culture Mile Overtourism!"
Those familiar with the City of London council will not be surprised by the news that after landing a huge grant from the Mayor of London’s housing investment scheme, it has quietly dropped its plan to build 3700 new council homes by 2025. Likewise it would be silly to take at all seriously the claim: “The corporation said its budget for building new homes had come under pressure…” The modest size of this ‘pressured’ budget is a political decision; the Corporation could cease spending the millions in interest generated by its City’s Cash sovereign wealth fund on lobbying for neo-liberal economic policies and instead use the money for house building. However this is unlikely to happen until there is democratic reform of the local authority and the council chamber ceases to be controlled by undemocratic business votes.Read more "City of London’s Neo-Liberal Politics Puts Londoners’ Housing Needs Last"
Leaders at the City of London Corporation have been criticised after the prestigious Mansion House was used to honour the “humanitarian” work of the wife of the Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who has thrown thousands of his own people in jail. Emine Erdoğan was given an award by the Global Donors Forum at the prestigious venue “in recognition of her humanitarian service”. Her husband’s regime in Turkey is seen by many as brutal and dictatorial, increasingly run by a clique of his close family and friends.Read more "Alison Gowman, Emine Erdogan & The City of London’s Vested Interests"
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"
This week’s alderman election in the Ward of Cheap highlights what’s wrong with the City of London election system, since for a grand total of 12 residents and 467 voters there is an alderman and 3 common councillors (4 councillors in total). That’s a councillor for roughly every 117 voters, and if we take away those with undemocratic business votes who also get to vote for someone else wherever they live, one councillor for every 3 residential voters! The minuscule voter numbers are absurd and the entire system inevitably leads to unfairness. Consider, for example, the need to get 5 people entitled to vote within the ward to nominate anyone who wishes to stand as a candidate in council elections. Anyone with views at odds with the finance industry is unlikely to find 5 people on the register of voters in business vote dominated wards who would nominate them.Read more "City of London Alderman Elections Absurd & Obscene"