Mon Apr 9th, 2018 at 02:33:12 AM EST
I got a glimpse of utter sepair of Poplar and the Isle of Dogs in the shadow of the Canary Wharf ... not much English spoken there as commuters rush towards their daily jobs in the tall office blocs. Not even speaking of poor infrastructure of steets, bridges, tunnels and the schools in hrowing distance of toxic fumes from rush hour traffic.
○ UK Brexit Problem: Migration not Immigration
Canary Wharf: life in the shadow of the towers | The Guardian |
The house I lived in, growing up on London's Isle of Dogs, was beside a huge gate and high walls - impenetrable barriers even to the naughty kids who wanted to explore the docks beyond. My friends and I remember glimpses of watery wastelands as we walked off the Thames peninsula that we all called "the Island", on rickety bridges whose gaps and creaks featured in our nightmares.
When, 30 years ago this month, Margaret Thatcher drove the first pile for Canary Wharf and promised a land of opportunity, those high walls came down. But by the time its celebrated pyramid roof was placed on One Canada Square in 1991, Thatcher had been ousted and the London commercial property market had collapsed. It was quite possibly the worst time to launch and, within a year, Olympia and York, the company charged with making the neoliberal dream of turning redundant docks into the reality of a gleaming financial citadel, filed for bankruptcy.
More below the fold ...
Yet the past three decades have not only tracked the boom and bust of the UK economy but have left the Isle of Dogs a microcosm of the social revolution that has changed the face of Britain. At the same time, the extremes of income inequality - from great wealth to desperate deprivation - have revealed social tensions that bedevil the country as a whole.
Local deprivation levels are among the worst in the country and a sense of powerlessness, which may have started as a reaction to the unaccountable regeneration scheme, now seems more widespread. The transport, shopping and leisure opportunities might have been revolutionised, but for a surprising number living there, Canary Wharf appears just as impenetrable as the docks were when I was a child.
There have been enormous successes, of course, many of which were trumpeted in a special report commissioned by Canary Wharf to mark this year's 30th anniversary. Canary Wharf Group has presided over the largest urban regeneration project in Europe, with more than 17m sq ft of London real estate providing the head offices for many global firms, from Barclays to Reuters. With 120,000 jobs, Canary Wharf claims to be the biggest single centre of employment in the UK.
In the early 1980s, unemployment had risen to 24% after the loss of thousands of jobs from the docks. While it was initially loathed by the hidebound denizens of the City, many financiers now believe that Canary Wharf, with its tax concessions and space enough for the large, open trading floors, saved London's financial services industry and therefore the UK economy.
The Canary Wharf Group, which has gone through several changes of ownership and now belongs to the Qatari state investment authority and global property company Brookfield, has spent millions investing in community projects or offering in-kind help such as mentoring for schools.
Insiders say the biggest barrier to those wanting a job in Canary Wharf is education. There is one 11-18 school on the Isle of Dogs, George Green comprehensive, my old school.
An astonishing 76% of George Green's pupils qualify for free school meals - far higher than the national average of 30% despite being two bus stops away from London's financial capital. With just 20% of its pupils "white British", compared with the vast majority when I was at school, English is a second language for two-thirds of its pupils. Around 5% have special educational needs and the school has had to lose support staff because of budget cuts in recent years.
○ Qatar: Buying Britain by the pound | BBC News |
London properties not British at all ... owned by global wealth funds. Selling them arms, looking away on human rights, scoring well with propaganda, yet Brexit shows the inequality that has grown since Thatcher. How can the Tories with its allied Cambridge Analytica be part of the happy bunch?