Miranda Brawn & City of London Awardwashing

Given the glass ceiling on top jobs in the City of London and this local authority’s notorious lie machine, it is not surprising to find the utterly undemocratic and business vote dominated local council awardwashing the situation by picking 100 women to receive the Freedom of the City as a way of ‘marking’ the centenary of women getting the vote. More of an eye-opener is the fact that diversity campaigner Miranda Brawn has chosen accept this bauble despite the council failing dismally to tackle gender discrimination on its own patch.

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Michael Mainelli’s Broad Street Re-Election A Farce!

Given that the electorate in many City of London wards only runs to a few hundred business votes with residential voters often hovering somewhere around the single figure mark, the opportunities for insiders to manipulate the system are extensive. With such an absurdly small electoral franchise it is difficult for those who aren’t insiders to find five people to nominate them so that they can stand for election. In business vote wards such as the one in which Michael Mainelli was just re-elected unopposed, the voting process is stitched up, having been loaded in such a way so as to make it extremely difficult for those who aren’t of a right-wing and neo-liberal political persuasion to even be able to stand, let alone win an election. Broad Street is too small an area and doesn’t have enough residents to justify it electing a single councillor on its own, let alone the 4 it currently has!

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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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Cripplegate Is Not Disneyland! Stop Culture Mile Overtourism!

Overtourism occurs when there are too many visitors to a particular destination. “Too many” is subjective but it can be defined in different destinations by key stakeholders; and in the case of residential areas such as Cripplegate it is the needs of local residents that should be prioritised. When rent rises push out local retailers to make room for bars, restaurants and shops selling luxury goods and trinkets to tourists, that is overtourism. When you can’t get around because walkways are jammed with sightseers and visitors attending middle-brow ‘art’ events, that is overtourism. When tourists cannot view landmarks or transient cultural manifestations because of the crowds, when fragile ensembles of listed buildings become degraded, when street art is being commissioned by the local authority and covered with Perspex to protect it, when there are huge signs installed on walls to inform passersby about public art, when accommodation for key workers is replaced by luxury apartments aimed at property investors who’ll leave them empty and bank on a overheated housing market to reap them a profit – these are all signs of overtourism, as well as gentrification and social cleansing. And these are all things currently happening in Cripplegate and Aldersgate and which the City of London’s Culture Mile strategy is designed to exacerbate.

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Culture Mile: Tourists Go Home – Refugees Welcome!

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.

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The Last Rotten Borough Revisited

The Corporation of London has rarely come under serious scrutiny since 1960 when a royal commission on local government in Greater London considered in great detail whether the ancient body could and should continue as a separate local authority. Sadly, its conclusion was feeble: “If we were to be strictly logical we should recommend the amalgamation of the City and Westminster. But logic has its limits and the position of the City lies outside them.”

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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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