The City of London & The Slave Trade Part 1

When discussing English slave trading the Royal Africa Company and the East India Company are key reference points and both have deep roots in the City of London. Many of the individuals implicated in the black holocaust through their involvement in these two slave trading entities also played key roles in local government in the City of London including as lord mayors, sheriffs and members of livery companies. Some of these slave traders are still memorialised in the City of London. Memorials tend to erase the complexities of history through simple celebration, which is why their removal from public spaces generally enhances historical understanding. That said, the undemocratic and still in many ways feudal local government machinery of the City of London is also in its contemporary form a product of the slave trade and it is more important that this is dismantled than that statues are removed and streets get renamed. It would, however, be ideal if both the governance of the City was democratically reformed and its problematic memorials removed.

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Two Cities MP Nickie Aiken & The Property Speculator Elite

In recent months we’ve noticed grumbles on Barbican Talk about new Two Cities MP Nickie Aiken that resemble the complaints we heard about her predecessor Mark Field for years. Today Aiken put out a statement about the top government advisor Dominic Cummings. From what we’ve seen on Twitter, Aiken’s statement on this matter hasn’t gone down well with her constituents. So this is likely to overshadow Aiken’s truly loopy interview with City of London council boss Catherine McGuinness in which the latter claims sandwich shops make the square mile ‘exciting’….

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Culture Mile Vanity Project Drives City Residents Around The Bend

The utter banality and blandness of the City of London’s corporate Culture Mile project continues with Around The Corner a series of 12 ‘installations’ (11 words & a question mark) between Millennium Bridge and Barbican Station that function as metaphorical piles of poo dropped into this part of the City from a great height. These atomised words spread out along a few streets make up the sentence: “What are you going to meet if you turn this corner?” pointlessly lifted from Virginia Woolf’s 1922 novel Jacob’s Room.

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City Of London Residents Get A Choice Between Halloween Trick or Toxic Treat

Steve Bolton of Legal & General Investment Management who’ve just lent the city £125m describes the Culture Mile and related projects as ‘regeneration’ but we’ve heard that one before – what this really means is the marginalisation and social exclusion of anyone who isn’t rich. Here we reproduce Bolton’s Halloween trick or toxic treat message as reported in one branch of the corporate media.

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City of London’s Culture Mile Exposed As A Surveillance Dystopia

At the Barbican’s theatre, cinema and arts complex surveillance is being boosted with 65 high-definition cameras, making a total of 159 all-seeing lenses across the estate. Public documents reveal that 16 of these have the capability to provide “recognition” scanning of people or places. Features include two-way audio, potentially allowing controllers to listen in, and the ability to pinpoint potential suspects in crowds. The internet-connected equipment was approved last month by the City of London Corporation. The surveillance upgrade was applied for at the same time as a wider City police security review — which reportedly could include “widespread integration” with private CCTV networks.

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Stuff The Centre For Music, City of London Shouldn’t Treat Hampstead Heath As A Cash Cow

It is reprehensible of the City of London Corporation to treat Hampstead Heath as a cash cow to be milked to cross-subsidise the financial Square Mile. Even worse, to suggest charging for the use of its ponds for swimming and bathing, when the fundamental purpose of the 1871 Hampstead Heath Act is to ensure that the Heath remains freely open to Londoners and unenclosed by gates or charges. Unfortunately, myopic bookkeepers in the Guildhall, lack the vision to understand an existing obligation from a new one and the relative importance of the legacy of Hampstead Heath. Where there is no vision, the people perish.

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City of London Attempts To Flatten All Opposition To Culture Mile Gentrification and Social Exclusion

Over the past few weeks the Talk Culture Mile series of events in the City has demonstrated the exclusionary nature of this project, with the aim being to bring ‘together organisations from across all sectors’ while not inviting the main stakeholders, local residents. So while the Improving Social Mobility Through Creative Skills talk was held at Golden Lane Community Centre on 4 July 2019, no one involved troubled themselves to notify tenants on the council estate that houses the venue of this event, since it seems the idea is to leave the organisation of social mobility to professionals – who we assume are mostly interested in preserving their own privileges by holding back the working class. The fact this talk was intended for people unfamiliar with the area rather than local residents was underlined by the leaflet promoting it carrying the following information after the venue’s address: “The community centre is opposite Great Arthur House, EC1Y 0RD”. Local people know where the community centre is.

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Cripplegate Is Not Disneyland! Stop Culture Mile Overtourism!

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.

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Culture Mile: Tourists Go Home – Refugees Welcome!

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.

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Tunnel Visions: Another Culture Mile Flop!

The money the City of London burns on artwashing itself via the Culture Mile and other projects is dwarfed by the sums it lavishes on propaganda promoting the interests of the finance industry, tax havens and wealth inequality. And even the crumbs thrown at the arts and ‘charity’ by the City don’t really benefit anyone outside a wealthy elite; such spending is instrumental and designed to promote corporate greed as a public good. The Culture Mile isn’t much of a smokescreen for this tunnel vision.

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