Feedback following our library petition hand-in at the Guildhall


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Some of the residents outside Artizan Street library with the petition before delivering it at the Guildhall

Report by Jason Pritchard CC

Good news! Earlier today I went with a small group of residents to hand in our Artizan Street library petition and to speak with the Head of Barbican & Community Library Services Carol Boswarthack and the Chair of the Culture, Heritage & Libraries Committee Graham Packham at the Guildhall. The petition gathered 115 signatures from local people and sent a clear message that we want better hours to fit the community. I am pleased to say the meeting went very well.

Both Ms Boswarthack and Mr Packham CC have agreed with residents that the current hours at the library are simply not working for the local community and subject to the final feedback from the City of London Opening Hours survey are positively exploring options to:

a) open the library beyond 4pm on weekdays so that schoolchildren and working people can enjoy more time in the library

b) trial Saturday opening hours for local residents and families

It was clear today that the City has been listening to the message from local residents which is great news and although officially they cannot announce new hours until after their survey close date it was pretty clear there is going to be a change for the better.

Thank you to the 115 people who signed the Library petition and helped put this issue firmly on the agenda. This demonstrates that when residents come together on local issues we can influence positive change in the community and get our voices heard.


Residents hand-in petition at the Guildhall with Head of Barbican & Community Library Services Carol Boswarthack and the Chair of the Culture, Heritage & Libraries Committee Graham Packham

Please help keep the pressure on by sharing the Artizan Street Library survey below by email or on social media.

Survey link:

The survey closing date is the 25th March so please do make sure you complete the survey and spread the word. The City of London have promised to publish their new library opening hours plans by the 1st April.

We will keep you updated on developments and hope to share more good news on this local campaign in the near future.

Best regards

Jason Pritchard

Middlesex Street Resident and Common Councilman for the ward of Portsoken



Can you join us to hand in our Artizan St Library petition?


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We’ve reached a crucial point in our campaign – next week, we’re going to be delivering our petition to the Head of Barbican and Community Libraries and the Chairman of the Culture, Heritage & Libraries Committee.

There’s a key decision deadline later this month, so now is the time to put the pressure on and make sure we get the right outcome. There are three ways you can help:

1. Share the petition one more time so we can get a final push on signatures before the hand-in:

2. VERY IMPORTANT: Complete the City of London Artizan St Library survey as soon as possible. It only take 5 minutes to complete:

3. If you can make it, come along for the group photo on Tuesday 13th March at 09:15am outside Artizan Street library. We want to get as many local people present for the photo before the petition is delivered later in the day at the Guildhall. The more of us that are there, the more impact we can have.

If you’re planning to come or have any questions, just email


Update on Artizan Street Library Petition


Good news! On the back of our petition which received over 100 signatures, the City of London this week announced a review into opening hours at Artizan St Library in order to make the library more accessible to children, families & workers. Result! Thanks to all who signed the petition and helped make this issue a hot topic.

Now we need your help with the next stage. The City has said: “We want to plan any changes around an understanding of the needs and preferences of our local community, so we would be grateful if everyone who currently uses Artizan St library could complete our survey.”

You can do this by going to or by visiting the library during opening hours to fill out a paper copy. The Library will collect responses until 25th March. They will then publish their plans by 1st April.

Please make sure your voice is heard and take a moment to complete the survey. We need opening hours that work for our community.


Labour’s candidate William Campbell-Taylor on why party politics has a place in the City


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William Campbell-Taylor believes Labour councillors get unfair treatment from their peers, and says they should instead be praised for their transparency.

“Many of the Independent City councillors are also Conservative Party members – not to mention Freemasons – and at least one of them is a serving Conservative councillor elsewhere,” said Mr Campbell-Taylor.

“It’s completely fine that they should have political affiliations, of course. What isn’t fine is that they should then pretend they have no political interests.”

Labour caused a stir in March’s City-wide elections when the party increased its influence in the Court of Common Council fivefold.

Now the latest man to run with a red rosette is hoping his public-facing campaign will be enough to help him join the fray and become the first Labour Alderman.

“Many residents are pleased to have the opportunity to support a Labour candidate for Alderman, though it’s also true that party politics isn’t the only consideration when choosing whom to vote for.

“Residents and small businesses want to know that you are on their side, that you will fight their corner.”

Mr Campbell-Taylor can point to a history of holding the local authority to account. In 2001 he successfully campaigned to prevent the Cass Foundation selling off the Sir John Cass’s School site before forcing the City to publish a summary of its private cash accounts in 2011.

“If transparency is a priority for me so too is fairness,” he said. “For example, I want the City to cover free school meals for all children in Year 3 and above at Sir John Cass’s.

When it puts £12million into its private schools I think it can also afford to make sure the children at the City’s only state school get a decent meal during the day.”

Housing is also a minefield the candidate is putting at the top of his agenda, but complete with hard hat, he has pledged to scrutinise Corporation policy, especially after the “Bernard Morgan House calamity”.

“I want to make sure the City meets its commitments to housing Londoners… to build 3,700 new homes by 2025. It can begin by looking after those who already live on the two housing estates in Portsoken, one of which is council run.

“I read that Aldgate is now being billed as ‘the hottest property destination in Europe’, set to generate 20,000 jobs. But how many of those jobs will come to local residents? And how will the residents and small businesses benefit from all this money coming into the area?”

And it isn’t just housing that the Labour candidate thinks the Corporation is under-delivering on. He wants reform that he says will allow the Square Mile to start working for everyone, not just those in big business.

“Because different governments have promoted the liberalisation of the financial services sector, the Corporation decided that it wasn’t in its interests to nail its political colours to the mast.

“Only now, after the crash, is this catching up with the City. People are beginning to see that the City of London, rather than being a state of nature, represents a powerful set of interests. And these interests need to be brought into the daylight. That’s what a Labour group can do; it can shine a light on the interests at work.

“Politics is not a freelance activity – about being a ‘Mighty Me’ independent – it’s about solidarity, people working together and demanding change.”

Mr Campbell-Taylor stated that the growing number of Labour members on the council was evidence of a change in attitudes locally.

“Our new Labour councillors Jason Pritchard and Munsur Ali have shown this in their campaigning work, from making sure that all unlicensed massage parlours are closed down to speaking up for the Rohingya Muslims in the council.

“Now we need more councillors like Jason and Munsur that reflect the mix of the City and theconcerns of ordinary people – and hopefully soon the City’s first Labour Alderman too.”

Source: City Matters


Labour calls for all high rise tower blocks to be retrofitted with sprinklers


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make homes safe

Thousands of families are living in high-rise properties in the UK. Nearly all of these homes do not have adequate safety systems.

Chief Fire Officers across the UK have said that it is proven that fitting homes with fire safety systems, like sprinklers, saves people’s lives in the event of a fire.

The Labour party is urging the government to set aside vital funding in the 2017 Budget for local authorities and housing associations to fit sprinklers into tower blocks, to protect the lives of tens of thousands of people across the country.

We know that fitting high-rise tower blocks with sprinklers could save thousands of lives. That’s why we’re urging the Tories to pledge vital funds to install sprinklers, to keep families safe from fire.

With us? Please sign and share this by clicking the link below

See also:

Please sign and share our petition calling on City of London to increase opening hours at Artizan Street Library


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We need opening hours at Artizan Street Library that work for our community.

We want the committee to work with the community to establish a new spread of opening hours, and ensure the needs of local school children, students, workers and other residents are put first in this decision.

We propose a spread of hours comprising at least 3 evenings per week, so the library may be a resource for a greater number and variety of people.

We propose that the library opens on Saturdays so that parents and children can visit at their leisure. The Barbican library is open Sat: 9.30am–4pm, that’s what we need in Portsoken.

Why is this important?

From Tuesday to Friday, the library closes at 4pm, and it doesn’t open at all at weekends. Many children and students in local schools finish too late to to use the services after school, and residents working 9-5 jobs do not have much opportunity to access the library at all.

The current opening hours seem only to serve the needs of the City workers coming into the area during the day, rather than the people living in the local community.

This issue has been raised in a recent customer survey, and a consultation into a new spread of opening hours is under way. We, the residents of the City of London, want to make sure that our voices are put front and centre on this issue, rather than the corporations and City workers, which is too often the case.

Please sign the petition here →

Portsoken Aldermanic Election Update: William Campbell-Taylor will be Labour candidate


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William announcement 2

Portsoken Aldermanic Election Update: William Campbell-Taylor will be Labour candidate for the forthcoming Aldermanic election which will take place on Dec 14th 2017. This is the first time that the Labour party will contest an Aldermanic seat in the City of London. William Campbell-Taylor became the first ever political party candidate to be elected to the Common Council after winning a by-election in Portsoken in March 2014. Labour now has five Labour councillors in the City of London following historic election results in 2017 which included the election of two Labour councillors in the ward of Portsoken.


Happy 100th Birthday to Labour Portsoken member Mannie Blankett!


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Happy birthday to long-standing Labour Portsoken member Mannie Blankett who celebrated his 100th birthday in style this week with well wishes from his sporting and political heroes.

Mannie turned 100 on 18 October, celebrating with parties all over Portsoken, starting with a lavish affair at the Dorsett City Hotel in Aldgate, followed by an afternoon of singing and dancing with his friends at community centre Toynbee Hall.

The youngest of six children to Polish immigrants, Mannie was born and raised in the East End, and trained to be a hairdresser before going into the family’s furrier business in the West End and spending several summers as a lifeguard for lidos around London.

Speaking with Spitalfields Life last year Mannie said that after a stint in the armed forces during World War II and then the Peace Movement in the 1960s, he returned to the East End and has been living in Petticoat Lane for the last 20 years.

The birthday boy was delighted to receive his customary card from the Queen, as well as surprise well wishes from the Tottenham Hotspur first team and a special personal address from Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Portsoken councillors Jason Pritchard and Munsur Ali presented Mannie with a signed Labour manifesto and a video message from the Labour leader during a party at Toynbee Hall, which Mannie attends three times a week for activities and social events. It was a packed house for the community centre’s first 100th birthday party, with around 30 regulars turning up to congratulate Mannie on the milestone and indulge in one of the centre’s most popular activities; a group singalong.

Portsoken councillor Jason Pritchard said: “What an amazing man Mannie is! So honoured to be there on this special day and to get a video message from Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn wishing Mannie a happy birthday was fantastic. Mannie said it made his day. Thanks to all who helped make this day so special.”


Aldermanic election announced in the Ward of Portsoken


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Sir Michael David Bear has surrendered the office of Alderman for the Ward of Portsoken. An election of a new Alderman will now take place.

The Notice of Election will be published on Tuesday 14 November 2017. This will also be the earliest date for the submission of nomination papers by candidates. The latest date for the submission of nomination papers will be noon on Tuesday 21 November 2017 to submit their nomination papers.

The deadline for new postal votes applications and for changes to existing postal and proxy voting arrangements will be 5pm, Wednesday 29 November 2017.

The deadline for new proxy votes applications will be at 5pm on Wednesday 6 December 2017.

A Wardmote (Ward meeting) is scheduled to take place at 6pm on Wednesday 13 December 2017 at the Artizan Street Library and community Centre, 1 Artizan Street, London, E1 7AE. All eligible voters are entitled to attend and there will be an opportunity for candidates to address the meeting and for voters to ask them questions.

If the election is contested then a poll will take place on Thursday 14 December 2017. electors north of Aldgate High Street their polling station will be located at Artizan Street Library and Community Centre, 1 Artizan Street, London, E1 7AE. For electors south of Aldgate High Street their polling station will be located at Portsoken Community Centre, Guinness Court Estate, Mansell Street, London, E1 8AH . The polling stations will be open between the hours of 8am and 8pm. To request a candidate nomination pack, or if you have any queries regarding this election, contact the Electoral Services Office.