Thursday, 15 March 2012

What's In A City?

For those of you who don't know, with it being Jubilee year the Queen got the chance to create a new city within the UK.  I guess there have to be some perks to doing the same job for so long.  In order to be eligible, towns and boroughs bid for the chance to be that city, obviously spending a certain amount of public money to do so.  My borough of Tower Hamlets was one of them, however it didn't win.
Now, if there was some tangible benefit of being a city then it might be worth punting a few quid on it.  However if you are called a city then that is it - simply, you are a city.  You do not get tax breaks or to make your own rules any more than you can anyway, it doesn't give you the chance to build a toll gate for everyone who wants to come in, or probably in some cases for those wanting to get out.
So why would you bother?
According to the Tower Hamlets mayor, it would provide extra investment and was backed by businesses.  Personally I start running for the hills as soon as I find out that something has been backed by business since it therefore probably benefits big business in some way and nothing more.
It is far more likely that the mayor saw this as his chance of creating his legacy, to become the mayor who made Tower Hamlets a city.  It would certainly add to his after dinner speaking credentials.  Much more than, say, the mayor who brought food waste recycling to every resident, or perhaps the mayor who created pelican crossings that work in favour of pedestrians and not cars.
Whatever the reason, in a world where less and less money is being spent on public services, my mayor decided to spend even less by giving his ego a boost by betting on something with extremely long odds. He would have been better off buying us all a lottery ticket which would have provided investment to small shops who have lottery machines, a portion of which would have gone to charities, and if anybody won then they would probably also spend their winnings locally.
But then, I doubt 'business' would have back that, would they?

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