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Amid the Corruption of the London Borough of Barnet: The Observer: "London: the city that ate itself"

"London is a city ruled by money.
The things that make it special
– the markets, pubs, high streets and communities –
are becoming unrecognisable.
The city is suffering a form of entropy
whereby anything distinctive is converted
into property value.
Can the capital save itself?"

Link to web site

" 'London is without question the most popular city for investors,' says Gavin Sung of the international property agents Savills. 'There is a trust factor. It has a strong government, a great legal system, the currency is relatively safe. It has a really nice lifestyle, there is the West End, diversity of food, it's multicultural.' We are in his office in a block in the centre of Singapore and he is explaining why people from that city-state are keen to buy residential property in London.

"He's right – London has all these qualities. It has parks, museums and nice houses. Its arts of hedonism are reaching unprecedented levels: its restaurants get better or at least more ambitious and its bars offer cocktails previously unknown to man (coconut seviche, for example, where, as its makers put it, 'coconut gin is swizzled through crushed ice with yuzu, passion fruit and a dark chocolate liqueur, and served long with an accompanying 'shot' of tuna seviche with a tamarind ponzu'). In some ways, the city has never been better. It has a buzz. Its population keeps growing and investment keeps pouring in, both signs of its desirability. As its mayor likes to boast: 'London is to the billionaire as the jungles of Sumatra are to the orangutans. It is their natural habitat.'

"At the same time, to use a commonly heard phrase, the city is eating itself. Most obviously, its provision of housing is failing to keep up with its popularity, with effects on price that breed bizarre reactions at the top end of the market and misery at the bottom. Thousands are being forced to leave London because their local authorities can't find them homes and people on middle incomes can't acquire a place where anyone would want to raise a family."

Link to The Observer

"Tory right-to-buy plan threatens mass selloff of council homes"

"Two large purple signs stand outside a half-built block of flats off Caledonian Road in King’s Cross. 'Twenty new council homes are coming', they announce. 'All new homes offered to local residents first … High quality homes for council rent.'

"James Murray, 31, executive member for housing and development at Islington council, looks up at the four-storey site on the edge of the sprawling Bemerton estate and admits his signs may be telling a lie. It looks as if the speculators and landlords will be moving in instead.

"During the general election campaign, the Conservatives offered 1.3 million tenants of housing association houses and flats the chance to buy their homes at a discount as part of David Cameron’s pitch that he could deliver “the good life” for voters. The pledge went down well on the doorsteps, and in theory the extension of the popular Thatcher right-to-buy policy was cost-free.

"But Murray and others see a heavy price looming. Local authorities in inner London now believe they will have to sell every new council home they build, as soon as they are ready, to finance the general election give-away. It could, they say, be the death knell of the council home."

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