Yet Another Threat To City Of London Communities & Their Heritage!

Developers are trying to build a giant 21-storey tower block just three metres from Bevis Marks Synagogue, the historic and world-famous Sephardi shul in the City of London. Jews with a connection to the iconic building (and local gentiles fed up with the ongoing disregard of community needs and the richness of our architectural heritage, represented by this and other ‘developments’ such as The Denizen) now have less than two weeks to object, after a planning application was submitted for the glass-fronted retail and office block rising skywards just yards from the UK’s oldest synagogue. Sephardi leaders in the UK said it would “tower over” the Grade I listed 300-year old building and are now “calling the community to action,” urging people to write and tell City of London planners what they think.

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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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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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New Lord Mayor Peter Estlin Could Best Address Social Inclusion by Resigning

The usual media suspects – The Times, City AM, City Matters, Financial News London etc. – picked up the story that Peter Estlin was “elected” as Lord Mayor of London on 1 October. Of course Estlin was “elected” by his peers in the finance and legal industries rather than those who actually live within the boundaries of the local authority that he now lords it over. London’s current situation of having two mayors – one for the whole city and one for the much smaller City of London – is ridiculous. London doesn’t need two mayors and the best move Estlin could make if he’s serious about his agenda of social inclusion (we doubt it) is resigning and ensuring his powers and role are handed over to London’s real mayor, the democratically elected Sadiq Khan.

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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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