I can tell you the answer here Willy

Minton quotes many European architects who despair at our impoverished, weak municipal authorities unable to deliver such a social and public ethos compared with those in Europe: the Swiss, hardly tribunes of the left, have a strong civic tradition and fabulous livable cities. Why can\’t we?

Because the Swiss have left power in the hands of the burghers of the local commune, not passed it up to the metropolitan intellectuals like yourself.

11 comments on “I can tell you the answer here Willy

  1. I suspect Will Hutton doesn’t actually wander wround Canary Wharf that much, Once outside the heavily-policed Cabot Square area there’s actually plenty of vibrant London life going on. There’s the river for one thing, parks, bars/restaurants, local shops, odd 1930s detached houses, museums, a vibrant house boat community.

    Considering it was a waste land until 20 years ago and there are masses of main roads everywhere they haven’t done a bad job.

    And, whether because the “city” has moved eastwards or not, the actual Square Mile that used to be empty and closed at the weekends is now more bustling that at anytime since WWI.

  2. And because the Swiss are the Swiss. Some time ago some Dead White guy suggested switching the populations of Ireland and Switzerland with good, or at least salutory, effect all around.

    We could do the same with Jamaica and the Swiss.

  3. The Swiss have nuclear bunkers for just about everyone in the country. Underground hotel car parks double as blast and fallout shelters.

    If there ever is an armageddon, civilization will be rebooted by the Swiss.

  4. fabulous livable cities

    Well, Geneva is nice enough but it’s eye-wateringly expensive and pretty dull, especially at night. I’m not sure it warrants the description “fabulous”.

  5. “One of the delights of Brighton’s Lanes or Oxford’s covered market is the possibility of escaping the tyranny of the shopping chains.”

    Trouble is, evidence I’ve seen from the success of Cabot Circus and The Oracle is that people like the tyranny of the shopping chains.

  6. Tim Almond.

    Indeed the Waitrose at Canary Wharf is generally regarded as the nation’s finest. With a wonderful wine section.

    And I know many people who do all their dull Xmas shopping at Canary Wharf. Easy parking. Not too busy. Right selection of shops. And there’s excellent dim sum to be had at Royal China with nice views of the river.

  7. ” the Swiss, hardly tribunes of the left, have a strong civic tradition and fabulous livable cities. Why can

  8. I detest London, which is why I stopped living there more than twenty years ago. Because it’s where the work is, I find myself working there these days, commuting home at weekends. My company have got me a place to stay in what I still think of as Millwall but is apparently now Island Gardens. And, despite my hatred of London, I have discovered that I love Canary Wharf and surrounding regions. I work in the Square Mile, so I get to see Canary Wharf at precisely the time Hutton says it’s so awful: at night, after the offices have shut. And I love it. It’s like a giant village. It feels friendly and safe and sociable in a way the rest of London most definitely does not. Nothing in that piece jibes with my experience of the place; none of it rings even remote bells. It’s like he landed on the wrong planet.

    Course, nothing to say I’m right and Hutton’s wrong, but then I’m not demanding laws to be based on my aesthetic sensibilities. How about the people who like Canary Wharf go there and people who hate it fuck off somewhere else? Works for me.

  9. Squander Two – “I have discovered that I love Canary Wharf and surrounding regions. … It-s like a giant village. It feels friendly and safe and sociable in a way the rest of London most definitely does not.”

    Ahh but notice the subtitle of Willy-s peice:

    Places such as London-s Canary Wharf would be more vibrant if we weren-t so restricted in what we can do there

    Vibrant is a euphemism innit? It means people of a non-English persausion. He means that CW is dreadfully White. Or at least English and Middle Class. So the whole problem is that you are not threatened by muggers often enough.

    He also says:

    Gehl insists that the key to enjoyable city living is the chance to interact and that everything [] in particular where you can walk [] should help the pleasures of accidental encounters with others. That in turn needs public space [] squares and pavements that are free for everyone rather than policed by private security guards.

    Anyone who has lived in London long enough has had enough accidental encounters with others. Usually quite expensive encounters they are too. He misses the point about those security guards – they are needed because the State has failed at the first hurdle. They cannot even provide basic security on the streets. Any park in London without a gate on it is just a place for rapists to lurk and junkies to shoot up. Any street without a policeman is just a mugging waiting to happen. Get the big things right and worry about diverse neighbourhoods later.

    He also says:

    The Victorians built great parks and civic spaces with great pride, openly revolting against the depredations of free market capitalism. They also paid their taxes. Time for us to follow suit.

    I am totally with Willie on this. Let us reduce tax to Victorian levels. What was it? 7 pence in the pound? Something like 2%? I will pay that happily.

  10. You’re broadly right, although I don’t think Canary Wharf is particularly white. It is full of civilised people, though, and the worshippers at the altar of “diversity” do seem inordinately fond of the uncivilised.

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