James Thomson Becoming Chair Of City Of London Police Authority Board Further Undermines Public Confidence

A news splash on the City of London council website yesterday announced that James Thomson has been elected as chairman of the City of London Police Authority Board. While this will surprise few who follow City of London politics – since Thomson has been on the board for the past five years and has occupied the post of deputy chairman for the past three – it will nevertheless further undermine public confidence in the City of London Police because of a series of controversies that continue to swirl around this councillor.

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City of London’s Neo-Liberal Politics Puts Londoners’ Housing Needs Last

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.

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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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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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Charles Bowman Wants You To Trust The City!

The new Lord Mayor of London is Charles Bowman and he’s been saying repeatedly he wants the public to trust the City. If Bowman is serious about making public trust his priority while he’s the Lord Mayor, he should be reforming the undemocratic and anachronistic political system in the City of London. He could start by abolishing the business vote and the office of alderman, he is after all the first among equals in the latter. He also needs to address the question of vested interests and make sure firms like Keepmoat who have (or have recently had) top management sitting on the City of London council, aren’t given contracts by this local authority. Bowman needs to ‘Keep Keepmoat Out Of The City’.

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Mark Boleat’s Attack On Democracy: Catherine McGuinness Must Go Too!

GLERA calling for Mark Boleat to resign represents a start to dealing with this scandal, but it is not enough! All those with a seat on the City of London council who aren’t prepared to defend democracy from Boleat’s attacks on it should go immediately; although whether any will agree to resign is a moot point. That said, as the most prominent ‘face’ right now on a local council that has financially supported the Housing & Finance Institute, it is Catherine McGuinness who should be the focus of our disquiet. And so our most immediate demand is: “McGUINNESS MUST GO!”

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Was Fat ‘Cat’ City of London Planning Chair Chris Hayward Lying When He Claimed He’d Only Do Lunch Once A Month?

This is what the Watford Observer quoted Chris Hayward as saying about the role and workload of City of London councillors in an article of 20 March 2013: …he stressed the role is unpaid and would involve no more than “one lunch time meeting a month”. He said: “It is not exactly a major time commitment. If it was anything more than one meeting then I wouldn’t do it. The councillors in the City of London also receive no allowances whatsoever. This isn’t a David Lloyd scenario, there is no income for common councilmen, it is more of an honorary body.”

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City of London Planning Committee Roll of Shame

An application to build a luxury apartment block on the site of Bernard Morgan House in Golden Lane was approved by the City of London Planning and Transportation Committee on 23 May 2017. Thirteen of those present voted in favour and ten against. This development will steal light and sunshine from local homes, a park and three local schools. We don’t currently know the identities of all those who voted in favour of this application but we will add them to our role of shame as and when we can. In the meantime, we understand these members of the committee voted for the proposal, so this is our initial role of shame: Christopher Hayward, Michael Bear, Mark Boleat, Andy Mayer,
Brian Mooney, James Thomson.

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