City of London Can’t Even Keep Its Website Online

The City of London council likes to promote itself and those in the financial industry it lobbies for – at the expense of the local residents it should be representing – as on top of fintech and leading the charge with it. Nonetheless over the recent May bank holiday and right through the normal working day of Tuesday 8 May 2019 and into the middle of the working day of 9 May 2019, it’s website was down. There was an online notice stating this was due to essential maintenance but rumour has it the council going offline was actually due to a cyber attack. Regardless, any local authority that allows its website to go down for days is clearly in trouble when it comes to technology and ought to be investigated by an outside body to determine how this can be fixed. The City of London council isn’t fit to govern the local authority area it controls, and its website going offline in this way is just more proof of this.

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‘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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Business Votes: Power Without Responsibility

The City of London council keeps the vast majority of its voters off the electoral roll and instead places them on what it calls the ward list. Those drawn for jury service come solely from among the few thousand residents in the area who are on the electoral roll. The ward list system ensures that the roughly 32,000 business voters who are placed on the ward list but not the electoral roll are NOT considered for jury service! Given that business voters are privileged to vote both where they work and where they live (assuming they have placed themselves on the electoral roll where they live) it would only seem reasonable that they are considered for jury service both where they work and where they live.

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Mark Boleat On The City & Anti-Democractic ‘Representation’

The City’s representational role for the finance industry brings with it the cost of it failing to perform its representational role for those who live in its local authority area; we seem to be viewed as an inconvenience. Much needed democratic checks on the City’s neo-liberal propaganda activities are thwarted by a council election system dominated by business votes. The City needs reforming and this should begin with the abolition of business votes. One person, one vote, is the basis of all truly democratic systems. Those awarded business votes in the City get to vote both there and where they live. Most people having one vote, with a handful getting two, is fundamentally undemocratic.

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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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