Ian Luder, Freemasonry & The City of London Standards Committee

Aside from the business vote system, a major focus of the dissatisfaction of City of London residents with the undemocratic set up of their council has been its so-called Standards Committee. One concern has been the gagging of resident elected councillors by an inflexible dispensations policy, while the same committee is apparently unconcerned about potential conflicts of interest on the part of the 80% of councillors undemocratically elected on business votes and representing the interests of the finance and legal industries. Another big issue has been the willingness of the Standards Committee to allow various freemasonic lodges to meet for free or at discounted rates on council property. Given that as this blog has documented, members of the Guildhall Lodge are massively over-represented in top council posts – such as Lord Mayor – and so are men, these men only lodges should not be allowed to meet on council premises – let alone for free or at discounted rates. This is an equality issue.

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City of London Gives Its Residents The Finger In Ongoing Gagging Row

If the City of London and its spokespeople wished to be taken seriously by those it fails to serve and in particular the many Cripplegate ward residents who signed the petition calling for reform of its Standards Committee, then they would have addressed the issues that led to this blog being started – potential conflicts of interest – instead of brushing them off. In the same manner and with the same disdain, this utterly undemocratic local authority brushes off the gagging of councillors who attempt to represent the views of local people as ‘justified’ by rules that apparently don’t apply to the majority in its chambers who speak on behalf of the finance and legal industries.

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Sue Pearson Fights City’s Anti-Democratic Gagging Of Residents’ Views

The message below was circulated by email earlier today and is reproduced without permission – although we hope Sue Pearson will be happy for us to reuse it. We have covered the City of London council’s attempted intimidation and gagging of Sue Pearson before. She needs support as part of the ongoing fight for democracy in this rotten borough; a fight which also entails abolishing the City of London’s feudal business vote and other reforms that include a reduction to the number of councillors in this local authority area to match the number of residential voters (to place it on a par with other London boroughs).

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Ongoing Exasperation With The City of London Council

Local residents’ anger with the City of London council is very evident in the latest issue of the fortnightly free sheet City Matters, a publication which also provides the head of this local authority with a regular column. It’s non-council columnists are usually anodyne but not in this issue! Billy Mann socks it to the City of London Corporation with the following words: “If anything can take the shine off neighbourly bliss it is the clumsiness of the council. A number of residents met recently with housing chief Paul Murtagh, who arrived in a foul mood…”

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City Of London Puts Itself First & Residents Last!

City of London councillors have criticised the Corporation for refurbishing the Mansion House while allowing tenants in social housing to suffer “freezing winters” in flats that they claim have fallen into disrepair. The official residence of the Lord Mayor is also used for hundreds of events each year including the annual Mansion House dinner. £1.45m has been earmarked for an external revamp that is due to be completed by 2020. At a meeting of the court of common council last week, Labour councillor William Pimlott said tenants were enduring “freezing winter months in cold flats” in Crescent House at Golden Lane, a 1950s housing estate in the ward of Cripplegate, which is to due to undergo repairs in 2021.

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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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