A news splash on the City of London council website yesterday announced that James Thomson has been elected as chairman of the City of London Police Authority Board. While this will surprise few who follow City of London politics – since Thomson has been on the board for the past five years and has occupied the post of deputy chairman for the past three – it will nevertheless further undermine public confidence in the City of London Police because of a series of controversies that continue to swirl around this councillor.Read more "James Thomson Becoming Chair Of City Of London Police Authority Board Further Undermines Public Confidence"
Emma Kane is currently chair of Barbican Centre Trust and a member of the Barbican Centre Board. Needless to say, she is not the only member of the Barbican Arts Centre Board to have done or said things that undermine the diversity and inclusion policies that such organisations ought to – but all too often don’t – follow. As this blog reported back in 2018 the ‘chairman of the Barbican in London (Giles Shilson) has apologised after comparing the Welsh language to being dyslexic.’ Many were appalled both by Shilson’s racism and his ableism but it seems to have no impact on his standing at the Barbican; he is currently deputy chair of the Barbican Centre Board to Tom Sleigh’s chair – but such positions are swapped around among the elite as a matter of course in the City of London.Read more "Barbican Arts Centre Grandee & PR Guru Emma Kane ‘Excited’ To Be Associated With Slave Traders & Paedophiles"
Although it is the COLPAI construction work to the north of Golden Lane Estate that we’ve given attention to in some recent posts, the ongoing work on Taylor Wimpey’s luxury investment flats The Denizen to the south is also making life difficult for those stuck at home during the current pandemic. Two days ago councillor Sue Pearson posted a statement she’d obtained from our local authority about government sanctioned extended working hours for construction sites to the GLERA website. The statement is probably more reassuring to Golden Lane Estate and Barbican residents suffering from the noise of work on The Denizen that operating hours there appear unlikely to be extended, than it is to Golden Lane Estate residents suffering intolerable stress from COLPAI construction during lockdown. Unlike The Denizen, whose entire site is within the City of London, the COLPAI project straddles the City/Islington border and so our local authority may try to pass the buck on decisions about working hours at the site to our neighbouring council, just as they attempted to do with the original COLPAI planning permission.Read more "City Construction & Lockdown Again"
Sadly we weren’t surprised by to see a Which? report earlier this month about an IT glitch at City of London Police that stalled the processing of more than 300,000 crime reports. For as long as the Court of Common Council acts as the police authority for this force there is no proper democratic oversight of the City of London police, and this also undermines public confidence in its officers. While the Court of Common Council is elected this is mostly on undemocratic business votes, rather than by residents, something very different to how police and crime commissioners are chosen elsewhere in the UK. As we’ve said before, the current deputy chairman of the council’s police committee is James Thomson and there are questions still to be answered about his vote – and that of Christopher Hayward also on the police committee – in favour of granting planning permission for Taylor Wimpey’s The Denizen on the site of Bernard Morgan House, a City of London Police property sold to developers at what many see as an inflated price. Aside from the potential conflict of interest over attempting to fix a blown police budget, Thomson and Hayward – and another councillor Sir Michael Bear – also have yet to explain why they felt able to vote in favour of planning permission for The Denizen despite roles at firms who worked with Taylor WimpeyRead more "Another City of London Policing Fail"
Islington Bunhill councillor Phil Graham brought up a proposal to extend Fortune Street Park as the possible outcome of a scheme to prevent Golden Lane and Fortune Street becoming a rat run for traffic excluded from Beech Street and trying to avoid Old Street roundabout. Although Graham didn’t provide details, we assume this would mean extending the park onto at least the west end of Fortune Street itself and the closure and erasure of some or all of this side street. Turning much of Fortune Street into an extension of the local park is a fantastic idea and sadly one that was rejected a few years ago because it would become harder to access the services that run under that street. Hopefully those issues have been resolved and extending the park is now possible. There is a shortage of green space in the City and south Islington, and Fortune Street Park is clearly stretched to capacity both at lunchtimes and immediately after home time at local schools. That said, even with an extension to Fortune Street Park more public recreation space is required in both south Islington and the City.Read more "How Else Might Islington Bail Out The City Of London On Its Zero Emissions Consultation Fail?"
One reason for the disproportion number of attacks on City of London Police would seem to be a lack of public confidence in this rather anachronistic force. In our view the biggest problem is having the Court of Common Council acting as the police authority for the City of London Police. If this was changed to a more regular form of oversight, then police officers in the City would be both safer and better able to carry out their duties because people would have greater faith in them. While the Court of Common Council is elected this is mostly on undemocratic business votes, rather than by residents, something very different to how police and crime commissioners are chosen elsewhere in the UK. The current deputy chairman of the council’s police committee is James Thomson and there are questions still to be answered about his vote – and that of Christopher Hayward also on the police committee – in favour of granting planning permission for Taylor Wimpey’s The Denizen on the site of Bernard Morgan House, a City of London Police property sold to developers at what many see as an inflated price. Aside from the potential conflict of interest over attempting to fix a blown police budget, Thomson and Hayward – and another councillor Sir Michael Bear – also have yet to explain why they felt able to vote in favour of planning permission for The Denizen despite roles at firms who worked with Taylor Wimpey.Read more "City of London’s Policing Fail"
Several years on and as we’ve said before we’re still waiting for the potential conflicts of interest involving planning permission being granted to Taylor Wimpey’s The Denizen development in Golden Lane – on the site that was formerly home to the Bernard Morgan House police accommodation – to be properly addressed by the City of London council. The issue has been reported in The Guardian, Daily Mail and elsewhere; it involved Chris Hayward, ‘Sir’ Michael Bear and James Thomson. Meanwhile the matter has just popped up yet again in the form of the blown City of London police budget. It doesn’t seem unreasonable to conclude that aside from their links to Taylor Wimpey, Hayward and Thomson should have perhaps also declared their role on the police committee as another potential conflict of interest before they voted in favour of giving planning permission to this constructor to build The Denizen on the site of Bernard Morgan House. The price paid for the site would have been untenable had Taylor Wimpey’s contentious planning application not scraped through.Read more "The Denizen & The City of London Police Budget Again"
It will have surprised no one that William Russell has been ‘elected’ Lord Mayor of London since the entire City of London electoral system is rigged. Russell’s rise to the top of the City of London council demonstrates how roles within this local authority are stitched up through a combination of a ridiculously small electorate, the undemocratic business vote system and an old boy network.Read more "William Russell Is The 5th Member Of The Bowater Family To Be Lord Mayor In Just Over 100 Years"
In the absence of democratic accountability, conflicts of interest are inevitable. What is the connection between Michael Bear, head of a local authority in the heart of our capital, and Michael Bear, property developer for Hammerson? This question is especially difficult to answer when the local authority and Hammerson are working together on multi-million pound projects. It’s high time a clear light was shone on this murky world.Read more "There Are Still Questions About Michael Bear We Want Answered"
The City of London has never been embarrassed to disproportionately over-represent not just men but freemasons in its top posts, so it came as little surprise when the council’s website announced on 24 June 2019 that lodge members Chris Hayward and Michael Mainelli had been elected City of London sheriffs. The post of sheriff is one down from Lord Mayor and to get that top job one must first be a aldermanic sheriff, the post won by Mainelli, who as we have already discussed is a member of the Guildhall Lodge of freemasons like more than two-thirds of Lord Mayor’s of London since this organisation was established in 1905. Given such a massive over-representation of freemasons in top posts at the City of London, the fact the men only Guildhall Lodge and others are allow to meet for free and/or at subsidised rates on council premises is an equality issue, as we’ve discussed in numerous previous posts, since these ‘fraternities’ play a key role in maintaining a glass ceiling at the City of London council that prevents women getting a shot at top roles.Read more "Top Jobs for the Lodge Boys as Chris Hayward and Michael Mainelli are ‘Elected’ City of London Sheriffs"