Sunday, 26 January 2014

Stage III Middlesex Street

Middlesex Street estate was built in the 1970s and there are currently about 218 properties. The tower block consists of one and two bedroom flats situated over 23 floors. The square consists of bedsits, one, two and three bedroom flats, situated over three floors. All properties surround a landscaped enclosed and gated podium area.

Eighteen new flats were recently added to the Estate.

Phase III of the works include a proposal to add more floors to the buildings surrounding the podium  - two, three or possibly four floors are being discussed. Two floors is probably going to be the limit, however, due to issues with light obstruction for the lower level flats.

What could this look like?
Here is the estate as it currently appears:

Below  is a mock-up / artists impression I made of what the feel of the Estate could possibly be with four additional stories surrounding the podium: This is purely for illustrative purposes, and does not reflect the final plans or design, which include re-cladding the entire structure, and may involve fewer than four additional levels. 

I believe it is extremely important, as we head into this phase of the redevelopment, that we have proper local representation. This would ideally include a local councilman living on site, a re-invigorated Residents' Association, and a strong Tenants' Association for the long leaseholders.

I studied for a year at the Worshipful Company of Carpenters' Building Crafts College,and hold a Diploma in Advanced Stonemasonry.  I was project manager for the restoration of the Spanish and Portuguese Jewish Cemetery in Bridgetown, Barbados, and saw that project through from inception to completion over a 5 year period. I also was responsible for the stonework at the Simon Fattal Succah at Lauderdale Road Synagogue, London.

 This qualification from the Building Crafts College included architectural drawing, and project management. I believe I have the skill set to be able to represent and protect residents' interests during this critical time in the life of the Estate.

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Democracy in the City

One of the charges levelled against the Corporation during the "Occupy" protests, is that the City is not democratic.
Here are the arguments put by Father William Taylor during the occupy protests, saying that the City is not democratic: (quoted here)

1. You need to be a ‘freeman’, and in order for that to happen you need a Liveryman or Common Councillor/Alderman to propose and second you (and then you need to pay £30).

My response: 
This is a partial truth.
All City residents have an automatic right to become freemen  after 12 months of residency in the City. Father Taylor knows this, but conveniently chooses to omit it.  This is a legal entitlement, and does not go before Common Council for approval, who have no say in the matter. It does not cost anything. You do not need to belong to any Livery. I am a freeman of the City, and became a freeman by virtue of residency. I belong to no Livery Company.

To be an Alderman, you have to also be accepted as a Justice of the Peace.

My response: The City has operated under an ancient democratic constitution, elements of which date back to the reforms of the Roman Emperor Diocletian. Each Court (Ward) elected its magistrate, with the title Alderman.  It used to be the case that an Alderman BECAME a Justice of the Peace for the City of London, by virtue of his or her election. There was no requirement that he be a JP before election. This deficiency was imposed on the City by the previous Labour government; as a result of Whitehall interfering, the City became less democratic.

This  injustice has now been undone. It is no longer a requirement that a candidate for Alderman in a City of London election be a serving Justice of the Peace.

As an Alderman you are expected to take your turn as Lord Mayor. To be Lord Mayor you must have around £30,000 of your own money spare to throw a Lord Mayor's Banquet.

In other words, if you are poor and/or not well connected then you unable to stand as alderman.

My reply: I am sure that if under the new system for electing Aldermen, someone were to be  elected as Lord Mayor who could not afford the banquet, it is unimaginable as a matter of political realism that this would present an obstacle to his or her  election. It is also not true that all Aldermen become Lord Mayor, nor are they "expected" to do so.

The City is a very democratic institution. The high ratio of Councilmen to electors means that our democracy is truly representative - the electors in the City actually have a proper chance to get to know the people they are electing.

Friday, 24 January 2014

Evan Millner, Candidate for Portsoken Ward 2014 Election

An election has been announced  in Portsoken Ward. The viting will take place on 20 March 2013.

I  announced my intention to stand on  21-1-2014, and have kept track of my election expenses from that date.

Clarification: Due to a typographical  error, the word' prospective' was omitted on one election flyer released prior to 19/02/14.

I submitted my nomination papers on 19/02/2014, and these have been accepted:
Evan Millner
Candidate for Portsoken Ward, Court of Common Council.

(email address and phone number removed from this web version of the document)

What is your connection to the ward?
I have now lived in Portsoken and the adjoining Aldgate wards for over 18 years, and my association with this corner of the City goes back even earlier, through my long-standing connection with Bevis Marks Synagogue, where I attend the daily prayers. I was previously employed by Bevis Marks as Youth Minister.
Since 2006 I have lived at 19b Petticoat Tower. I previously resided at 114 Guinness Court, Mansell Street. I am uniquely placed to understand the issues that affect both our Estates. In the past I have served as Chairman of the Tenants' Association at Mansell Street. I represented Portsoken Ward on Common Council some 10 years ago.

Will you have the time to represent us effectively?
I have been teaching at the same school in North London since 2000, where I currently head the Individual Tuition Unit and act as Examinations Officer. My timetable requires me to be at the school from 2pm to 5pm only, so I have plenty of time for ward matters.

What are your main interests?
My principal interest is education. I run a successful Classical Latin-language YouTube channel (evan1965) with over 1.4 million views, and 9,500 subscribers. On a UK level, I am opposed to the current funding system for higher education, and would like to see a return to student grants. I also would like to see the Education Voucher system reinstated in the City, under a localism agenda. Our unique voucher system was more suited to us here in the City than the system that was imposed on us by the Department for Education a few years back. National 'solutions' are often imposed on the City, inappropriate to our population size and dynamics. I am in favour of more local independence for the Common Council, and less meddling from Westminster in what should be local decisions.

What are your political views in a nutshell?
I am a political libertarian – in favour of free enterprise, free speech, and personal freedom. I am greatly concerned by the immense gap between the wealthiest and the poorest, something we notice more than most, living as we do with the City looming over us. I think the City should be building much more social housing. I broadly support the concept of a Universal Citizens' Wage, to replace pensions and benefits across the board. As artificial intelligence continues to encroach on more and more fields of employment, I believe this will in time become the only viable option to ensure an equitable society. Demonising people on benefits is absolutely not the answer to what is a structural problem that is not going to go away. Few Councilmen at Guildhall truly understand what it means to live on a low wage, let alone be unemployed or unemployable. In addition to the existing direct employment initiatives, I would like to see business startups by residents supported with seed funding.

What do you plan to do in Portsoken?
First and foremost, I will listen to your concerns, and respond to them to the best of my ability. I will work to support strong resident (and leaseholder) committees with the existing team of councilmen, working towards more accountability and value for money. I believe the best way to get things done is to build good working relationships with key officers within the Corporation. I already have a good day-to-day working relationship with the local officers on the ground here in Portsoken, which is an absolute necessity. I will also work closely with the TA at Mansell Street, and help them in any way I can in their negotiations with the Guinness Trust on behalf of residents. This is a residential ward, and we need Common Councilmen here who will focus on local matters.

Focus on Children and Young People
Our ward has the highest concentration of children and young people in the City, and it is important that the needs of this group continue to be met, particularly to improve educational services and training, including out-of-school activities. Many services were cut in the not too distant past. I will do my best to work to expand the City's commitment in this vital area.

Printed on 21 Jan 2014, published, and promoted by Evan Philip Millner of 19 b Petticoat Tower, Petticoat Square, London E1 7EF, on behalf of himself .