There is nothing peculiar about the fact that the City of London council are lending a private school more than £15million – subject to the same local authority granting planning permission for the scheme it already backs – while simultaneously seeking £30million in cuts from its parks and other budgets, and when it has just secured £450million in external loans for unwanted vanity/legacy projects such as the proposed Centre For Music. This rotten borough lobbies globally for neo-liberal policies that benefit the super-rich at the expense of everyone else, so its willingness to underwrite the expansion of an elitist school – to the detriment of London’s architectural heritage and against the interests of the local community – reflects perfectly its aims and priorities.
Over the past few weeks the Talk Culture Mile series of events in the City has demonstrated the exclusionary nature of this project, with the aim being to bring ‘together organisations from across all sectors’ while not inviting the main stakeholders, local residents. So while the Improving Social Mobility Through Creative Skills talk was held at Golden Lane Community Centre on 4 July 2019, no one involved troubled themselves to notify tenants on the council estate that houses the venue of this event, since it seems the idea is to leave the organisation of social mobility to professionals – who we assume are mostly interested in preserving their own privileges by holding back the working class. The fact this talk was intended for people unfamiliar with the area rather than local residents was underlined by the leaflet promoting it carrying the following information after the venue’s address: “The community centre is opposite Great Arthur House, EC1Y 0RD”. Local people know where the community centre is.Read more "City of London Attempts To Flatten All Opposition To Culture Mile Gentrification and Social Exclusion"
City residents will have recently had a copy of the June issue of City View: The Magazine of the City of London Corporation drop through their letterbox. The whole of page 3 is dedicated to the proposal/done deal to relocate three ‘historic’ markets to a new site in Dagenham. Funds are being raised for this move and other projects on the basis it is a done deal, while at the same time City residents and other stakeholders are told this ‘proposal’ is the City’s preferred option and they are being consulted about it. This, like all City consultations is a PR exercise in rubber-stamping a decision that has already been made.Read more "City of London ‘Consultations’ Are A Sham Designed To Rubber Stamp Decisions That Have Already Been Made"
Years of forecast deficits for the City Fund caused partly by policing costs and uncertain funding from central government mean that the corporation is embarking on a “fundamental review of its priorities and expenditure” in an attempt to put its finances on a more stable footing, according to a report by Jeremy Mayhew, head of the corporation’s finance committee.Read more "City of London Cash Crunch"
A few weeks after the mid-January release of plans for Diller Scofidio + Renfro’s dog’s dinner of a Centre For Music building on the site of the current Museum of London, comes news of an ambitious project to build a new classical music venue in Wimbledon (part of the Borough of Merton) in south-west London. Since there is already a concert hall in The Barbican Arts Centre, and another a few minutes away in the form of LSO St Luke’s on Old Street, it is clearly pointless building yet another classical music hangout within easy walking distance of these two existing auditoriums. What many local people want is more social housing, so why not use the Museum of London site to deliver the council flats the City of London has promised but so far failed to build?Read more "Stuff The City of London’s Centre For Music! If We Need A New Classical Concert Hall Build It In Merton!"
Rather than exposing the City of London as the UK’s last rotten borough and exploring the area’s often disreputable history – the racist tropes cooked up by Protestant bigots in Grub Street, the violence and extra-legal activity around the Shrieval Election of 1682, or the notorious bawdy houses of Cripplegate etc. etc. – the Culture Mile has to date consisted of the super-bland artwashing. Instead of the proposed Centre of Music being built on the current Museum of London site, we’d rather see housing for refugees. Likewise there is already a huge daily footfall of visitors in the Culture Mile area and seeking to increase this will make life worse for its residents. Tourists aren’t wanted and nor are retail outlets selling overpriced goods to sightseers either.Read more "Culture Mile: Tourists Go Home – Refugees Welcome!"
Before I sat down to write this piece, I came across a photograph on social media posted yesterday and captioned: “Back of Liverpool Street Station – the sterile hell of a corporate winter wonderland.” The area shown in this smartphone snap is in the City of London and what was said about it really chimed with my feelings over not just the Culture Mile but also most City Public Realm projects in recent years. The council’s Department of the Built Environment is clearly in need of reform just as much as the political body that controls it. We really do need to take back the city.Read more "Culture Mile: A Cynical Exercise in Marginalisation & Social Exclusion"