Susan Pearson Gagging Row Update

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!

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City of London Loses The Plot In Its Crusade Against Democracy

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.

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William Russell, Barker Bridge, The City of London, Cronyism & Self-Aggrandisement

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.

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James Thomson, Public Perceptions of Probity & Jobs for the City Boys

Is there a conflict of interest in having a member of Keepmoat’s board of directors as a Common Councillor? The City of London says: “I can confirm that the Member to which you refer has had no input, bearing or influence on this tender evaluation whatsoever.” It isn’t good enough for the City of London to baldly state council member James Thomson had no influence on the tender evaluation, an independent inquiry into whether Thomson’s status as a friend and colleague of at least some of those who made the decision would be much more appropriate.

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James Thomson & The City of London Property Development Lobby

At a City of London planning committee meeting last year both James Thomson and Mark Boleat voted in favour of Taylor Wimpey’s The Denizen development; this will replace 110 social housing units with 99 over-priced luxury flats and with no on site social or affordable housing. This demonstrates exactly where both men are coming from on housing issues. It’s all about money-making over local social need. James Thomson was formerly deputy chief financial officer and chief operations officer of Cushman and Wakefield, commercial property and real estate consultants, which marketed and sold the site he voted to grant planning permission for to Taylor Wimpey. Likewise, the local authority to which Thomson has been ‘elected’ doesn’t seem in the least bit bothered about how it looks when it gives work to the company of which he is the CEO.

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Where Do Zupagrafika Stand On Brutal Capitalism Destroying London Communities?

With Balfron Tower’s working class community decanted to be replaced by rich ghost home investors, and similar things happening at other sites celebrated by Zupagrafika, just where do this design studio stand on such matters? Brutal London can all too easily be perceived as artwashing of this process. Zupagrafika donating a percentage of the profits from the project to campaigns fighting against the displacement of the working class communities connected to these buildings would do a lot to stop Brutal London being seen by all sides in this battle as an uncritical celebration of gentrification and social cleansing.

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Chris Hayward Still Out To Lunch on Public Perceptions of Probity!

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.

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