court of common council | april 2024

windows project


Q | Thank you to the Chair for coming along to a walkabout of the Golden Lane Estate organised by my colleague, Dawn. We were very grateful to yourself and senior officers in joining us for a walk to show the poor maintenance and lack of funding that has gone into the estate since your last visit two years ago.

We were able to show you the pilot flat in Crescent House and the successes of the project thanks to the the hard work of officers but also discussed there have been some long delays in getting this project finished due to internal processes that seem to cause severe delays in-house at the Corporation. Officers also mentioned the lack of resources had a huge effect on the timeline faltering.

Following the walkabout I would like to ask the Chair what he is now planning to do in order to assist with granting more funding to cover works on the estate which are not already included in the current Major Works projects, to increase funding for new officers where they are needed, and also what can be be done to ensure that these internal processes do not happen again.


A | First of all can I thank the honourable member for her question and tell her how pleased I was to be able to visit the Golden Lane Estate on the 4th of April in the company of my two fellow honorable members. It was really good to see the pilot flat in Cresent house which is a fantastic vision of what we can achieve at Cresent House and if you want to see it, I know it’s available to be viewed.

We have completed the pilot flat for the window replacement plan but it was, I have to be honest, disheartening and frustrating to see so much of the estate in disrepair and we know in this honorable court that that is due to decades of underinvestment in our repairs. It’s clear to me that repairs and maintenance, frankly across all our estates, has not been prioritised effectively for many years now.

I know that officers are aware of these issues, as of course are honorable members of this court ,and we are progressing with filling a number of key positions that are currently vacant including Heads of Maintenance and a Contract and Compliance Manager for our external maintenance contract. I understand that an improvement plan has been agreed with the maintenance contractor to push them on performance ahead of a new maintenance contract being let next year.

Officers have assured me that a number of immediate issues which I viewed personally on my visit will be dealt with as a priority such as removal of old signage, fixing of broken railings and damaged glass. I mean, the estate just needs a bit of TLC, if I can put it that way and I’ve asked officers now to give me monthly updates on progress against the range of issues that have now been identified on that estate.

I’m informed at this time that the full windows replacement program cannot begin until early next year and will take to 2030 to complete. I personally find those time scales unacceptable and I intend to instruct officers to improve on those timelines and I hope to be able to revert to this honorable court with a more substantive and satisfactory outcome in the very near future.

Honorable members will be aware that the City Corporation has committed £29 million for Golden Lane Estate upgrades including the windows, but residents understandably want assurances about the timings of those upgrades as well as improving the condition of their estate and I support them in their wishes and I will be driving officers to deliver upon them.


Q | Thank you to the Chair for his response. You’ll be aware that there was an extensive review of the Barbican Estate Office and there’s obviously been some huge changes. I’m just wondering if we can get your support to have the same or a similar review over on Golden Lane Estate and the office there.


A | I have to be careful here not to do the work of committees in the Court of Common Council – it is the responsibility of Children and Community Services Committee under its housing management operations to guide us and to guide the Corporation to make decisions around that.

On a personal basis her request seems to me and sounds to me to be entirely and eminently fair and entirely and eminently sensible but I will leave it to others members on this honorable Court who have far more knowledge of these issues than I on that committee to be able to make that decision.

(with minor corrections to and tidying up of auto-generated transcript provided by YouTube)



Q | In order for the Corporation to meet its equality objectives the organisation’s leadership needs to be fully committed to resourcing and championing equality, diversity and inclusion. Members will no doubt be aware of the recent controversy surrounding the Garett Club and heavy criticism of those who held membership of a club that functioned to foster relationships between men at the centre of public institutions and that barred women as members. A controversy which led to the head of MI6 and the head of the Civil Service both resigning from the Garrick acknowledging that membership was at odds with their organisation’s commitment to improving equality and diversity.

Does the Chair of Policy agree that leaders in central and local government should not hold membership of organisations that bar women from entry as members?


A | What an explosive question. Look, private members clubs are private organisations they make their own rules and they have to make those rules within the law. I think it is a matter of judgment and freedom of choice of any individual as to whether they join such clubs or institutions and I don’t think it’s for me to be prescribing here in response to her question. The view would be a personal view in any event so I don’t think it’s it’s right I should respond on it ,suffice to say that I do believe people should have a freedom of choice.


Q | Members of Masonic lodges and the guild like the Guildhall Lodge are for networking and establishing relationships behind closed doors and in rooms from which women are excluded. Are you seriously saying that these networks don’t extend into the Guildhall itself and don’t disadvantage female members of this Council?


A | I genuinely have no experience of the nature to which the Alderwoman is referring and suggesting. Yes, we’ve discussed Freemasons before in this chamber and it continues to be a topic that is raised but I have never been approached in that respect of having you know side discussions with Freemasons about specific issues in this Authority so I have no personal experience of it. I’m not aware if any other members do. I appreciate that there is this constant suspicion around this and it continues to get raised but again I’ve said before in this Chamber that Masonic Lodges are are not illegal organisations. they do a lot for charity. You know I accept the point about male organisations, it’s been made by the previous questioner but no I do not believe they undermine this Corporation’s work.

(with minor corrections to and tidying up of auto-generated transcript provided by YouTube)

further analysis

There is a more detailed review of the questions asked at Court of Common Council on the political blog Reclaim EC1 including proposals to potentially reduce the amount of time our Councillors have to ask questions at Court, the lack of discussion at the recent planning committee which approved the London Wall West plans, and appeasement of China.

The current 40 minutes allowed for questions does not seem adequate when our own Councillor Dawn Frampton was not able to pose a question which she had submitted in advance:



At every full meeting of the City of London council, there is an agenda item for questions put by elected members to committee chairs. A member wishing to put a question must give advance written notice (unless it relates to a matter already on the agenda) and its length must not exceed 250 words. The total time for all questions, including supplementary ones of which notice need not be given, is limited to 40 minutes…

[towards the end of the blog]

…After Ceri Wilkins had put a challenging question to Hayward (at 1:04:04) about providing further funding to remedy the City council’s grotesque neglect of the maintenance of its housing estates, her ward colleague Dawn Frampton rose to ask a supplementary, but Ian Thomas, the Town Clerk, told her (at 1:09:21) that she could not because the 40 minute limit had been reached. Under the proposal for a shorter time limit, which Hayward and his clique obviously support, Wilkins’ main question would not even have been put.

Even worse, Frampton’s supplementary was not timed out at all. As anyone can verify from the recording of the meeting, the first questioner began speaking at 29:29, and Thomas closed the session at 1:09:21 – making a difference of 38 minutes, not 40. Natasha Lloyd-Owen leapt to her feet (at 1:09:57) to point this out, but to no avail. Thomas made the ridiculous statement that “the official time that we’ve been keeping says that we’ve had 40 minutes”. So he’s ruled that the City council can take an official position that is verifiably untrue.

Reclaim EC1