‘Sir’ Michael Snyder, The City of London & Crossrail

The Crossrail deal struck between the Corporation of London when it saw headed by ‘Sir’ Michael Snyder and the 2007 Labour government highlights the blurring between the corporation’s two roles, that of a local authority with public funds and a lobbying body with even larger private funds. An internal corporation document presented to councillors in October 2007 stated that, “there would be a number of pre-conditions to be satisfied before funding was released”. One of these was “a net real terms improvement in government funding of the City Corporation”. The corporation wanted the government to reinstate a fund known as the “City Offset” “The City Offset was re-instated… in 2007 following representations from the City of London Corporation,” said a spokesman for the Department for Communities and Local Government… This means the corporation could end up recouping all of the money it is contributing to Crossrail. As the internal corporation document states, if the extra government funding to the corporation continued for fifteen years, “the eventual adverse impact on our asset base would be £15m or less”. Given that Crossrail inflates the value of lands owned by the corporation adjacent to it and the extra funding could continue for more than 15 years, the City potentially stood to make a great deal of money from this deal.

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The City of London, House Building Targets & Business Votes

Following the Occupy London protests in 2012, the Corporation released information about “City’s Cash”—the “sovereign wealth fund” stemming from the 15th century. Over 52 percent of its reserve in that year came from investments, with 29 percent from school fees, 8 percent from rent, and 9 percent from grants, contributions and reimbursements. By 2016 its assets stood at £2.3 billion, generating £210 million yearly. The 2018-23 Corporate Plan cynically insists “everything we do contributes toward the achievement of twelve outcomes.” Those listed include: “People have equal opportunities to enrich their lives and reach their full potential” and to “Help provide homes that London and Londoner’s need.” The City of London actually devotes its main energies to furthering the inequality that produces untold misery and hardship.

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Castle Baynard Election: A Beautiful Farce

There were eight candidates in the Castle Baynard common councillor election held on 9 October 2018 in the City of London. A total of 277 votes were cast. The Labour Party candidate Natasha Lloyd-Owen won with 77 votes, with seven ‘independents’ splitting 200 votes between them. Lloyd-Owen’s victory came as a shock to the true blue City types who ludicrously claim our local authority is non-political despite the fact it aggressively promotes the neo-liberal agenda championed by the right-wing of the Conservative Party. Labour have previously won seats in residential wards but never before in a ward like Castle Baynard dominated by undemocratic business votes. So while City slickers and legal professionals getting votes where they work as well as where they live is obscene, and the minuscule size of the electorate is completely absurd, it was still a historic win.

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You should vote where you live, ‘that’s how democracy works!’

We’d really like Andrew Boff to apply the logic of his observation ‘(i)f people want to vote in the London elections they can move here, that’s how democracy works,’ to the City of London. As we’ve made clear most of those who vote in City of London elections don’t actually live within this local authority’s boundaries and get to vote elsewhere too. That simply isn’t democratic.

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Hugh Morris, The Livery Lodges & The City of London’s Opacity

City Matters reported that the livery company who booked a contentious Guildhall event for the far-Right Italian senator Armando Siri was the Worshipful Company of Management Consultants. Is this really ‘an outside body’ as The Guardian reported the City of London council claiming, or is it a cat’s paw? When it suits the City of London this and other livery companies are linked to it, which justifies the discounts they enjoy, effectively subsidies for events such as the far-Right lunch with Armando Siri. But when the City of London wants to shrug off responsibility these ‘linked’ and ‘connected’ organisations metamorphose into outside bodies – as is clear from the City’s statement quoted by The Guardian. We’d like Hugh Morris – and other City of London councillors – to state definitively if they want the City to treat the Worshipful Company of Management Consultants as an ‘outside body’ and to charge it the full market rate when it hires rooms from the council. If this and other livery companies are not City linked and connected, then they shouldn’t be getting discounts. We’re also keen to hear what Morris has to say about the Armando Siri event hosted by a livery company he belongs to.

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Portsoken Election Demonstrates Urgent Need For City Reform

The aldermanic election in Portsoken on 14 December 2014 provides a peek into the surreal nature of City politics. Despite three out of four candidates standing as independents, at least two of these ‘independents’ had binding party political affiliations. Labour have caused a bit of an upset in the City in recent years by successfully standing official candidates for election in three out of four ‘residential’ wards, Portsoken, Aldersgate and Cripplegate.

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Chris Hayward: Clockwork Tory

The skyscrapers Hayward wants to see built aren’t simply office space; they are as Alex Simpson observed in an article published on City Metric earlier this year ‘a monument to the city’s worship of finance’. As Simpson notes, developers are sometimes over ambitious and some projects fail. After funding dried up, The Pinnacle was left as a partially built shell and became known as The Stump. Perhaps Hayward is dreaming that the redevelopment of The Stump as 22 Bishopsgate might in some way parallel his future political career no matter how unlikely this seems. On his City website Hayward boasts of 30 years experience in local government and stresses that the last four were as a councillor for the utterly undemocratic business vote ward of Broad Street. Hayward has been forced to scale down his political ambitions from being an MP to being one of a tiny group of councillors ‘elected’ on no votes whatsoever; and it seems that the only way to get Hayward to scale down his support for overdevelopment in the form of schemes like Gerrymander Mansions is to smash the rotten City of London political culture in which he’s enmeshed.

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