Friday, October 28, 2011

London activists plan to Reclaim the City

Activists behind the occupation of London's financial quarter have listed some of their demands, which include democratisation of the City of London Corporation - an organisation with loads and loads of power, cash and political inside tracks, which it doesn't hesitate to use to promote its own interests.

Art Uncut have now announced their plans for an alternative Lord Mayor of London's Parade, scheduled for 12th November.

Read more about the shocking governance arrangements of the City of London here. Better still, read Nick Shaxson's stunning exposé of this squalid throwback to the Dark Ages.


Blogger Bill Ellson said...

Not one of your better posts.

ReclaimtheCity appear to be two rather patronising individuals who, without apparently thinking to ask any residents of the city, are purporting to liberate them.

The City of London publishes election results online and puts the names of ward Alderman, Deputies and Common Councillors on the walls of churches and other public buildings . The activists refuse to identify themselves(but others have), refuse to engage with anyone on Twitter and do not accept comments on their so-called blog.

Your blog post of 7 Feb 2009 contains a number of innaccuracies. The City is not so much a local authority as a body that undertakes local authority functions. You incorrectly claim that businesses can vote in City elections and having made that mistake you then go on to claim that a business that employs 3,500 people has 79 votes. Others may well have made the same mistake, but you must take some of blame for those at OLSX talking of 'corporate block-votes'. The reality as set out at is that businesses can nominate voters. Nobody can cast more than one vote.

On their website reclaimthecity state "Ordinary residents living in estates in Portsoken are denied the democratic right to choose their local council, as their votes are outnumbered 4 to 1 by the votes of corporations." The reality is that there are over a thousand residents in Portsoken ward, and only a few local businesses who even if they all nominated voters would be unlikely to affect election results. See: (pdf) Portsoken is the current Lord Mayor's ward and in reality he was elected Alderman by council tenants.

You are at your most effective when you research such wrongs as the Channel Islands VAT scams, the joke tax agreements with Switzerland etc. and publish reliable data / sources that others can verify (nothing upsets your detractors quite so effectively). I fail to understand why when it comes to the City of London and the City Corporation you repeat all manner of old tosh without verifying the facts.

12:50 pm  
Anonymous TJN said...

Bill, thanks, but respectfully suggest you do some fuller research before commenting.
"You incorrectly claim that businesses can vote in City elections."
Well try line 2 here
"Businesses and other organisations are also entitled to vote"
We have researched this in detail.

5:07 am  
Blogger Bill Ellson said...

Your full url is the same page as my short link at the end of my fourth para. "The reality as set out at is that businesses can nominate voters. Nobody can cast more than one vote."

Quoting one sentence, that if you read down the page you will see is plainly wrong, is not good research.

6:50 am  
Blogger TJN said...


You say "The City is not so much a local authority as a body that undertakes local authority functions." Hmm, can you expand on this a bit please. If it isn't a local authority, what exactly is it, and why does it take on local authority functions? And under what authority? Where is the Charter that grants it authority to take on local authority functions?

best wishes

John Christensen

11:46 am  
Blogger Bill Ellson said...


It is the City, an entirely unique status. It has local authority, police authority and port health authority functions, but it also has private functions such as managing Epping Forest and other open spaces and the charitable function of City Bridge Trust (formerly Bridge House Trust). The City of London Funds webpage is a useful place to start, but does not purport to be legally definitive.

It takes on what we would now call local authority functions because it always has. When the Home Office tried to foist the Metropolitan Police on the City in 1839 the City petitioned the Crown to stop it: .The petition refers to a charter granted by William I, but the earliest statutory provisions regarding the City's status I am aware of are Article IX of Magna Carta and Article IX of the Statute of Monopolies 1623

Most 19th Century Acts concerning local government simply exempted the City. However, s.41 of the Housing, Town Planning, &c. Act 1919 enabled the City to enter into agreements with the London County Council to provide council houses (The City remains a significant social landlord with housing in the City and elsewhere in inner London).

It is hard to be certain, but s.2 Town and Country Planning Act 1932 may be earliest example where the court of common council was designated as a 'local authority' (for the purposes of that Act).

As the 20th Century went on the court of common council was increasingly designated as a local authority for the purposes of individual Acts. When the London County Council was abolished some functions went to the new Greater London Council but many were transferred to the new (inner) London Boroughs and in respect of the City, the court of common council.

So, there is no originating City charter and nobody knows if there ever was one, but the vast majority, if not all, of 'local authority' functions in inner London (including the City) have been defined by statute from the London Government Act 1963 onwards so in that respect the City has its 'local authority' powers and responsibilities on the same basis as the London Boroughs created by statute.


1:45 pm  
Anonymous TJN said...

Bill, on the business vote, the key question is whether or not the voting reflects the wishes of the workforce, or merely the composition of the workforce. The Blair reforms went for and got the latter, despite the efforts of Taylor and Glasman and Matson. Appointment by a qualifying body, even if it does reflect composition of the workforce which is far from guaranteed, is a route to getting the wishes of the management. So businesses, in effect, get the vote. Just as the Corporation website says.

4:48 am  

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