Occupy London launches Guided Tours of London’s Financial Centres

 

Occupy London today launches ‘Occupy London Tours’, a group offering guided tours of Britain’s most iconic financial centres. The first tour, on Tuesday, will lead visitors around Canary Wharf, with future tours planned for the City of London and hedge funds in Mayfair. [1]

Tuesday’s tour will begin at 25 Bank Street, the building vacated by Lehman Brothers when the investment bank collapsed in 2008. Other ‘sites of interest’ include the global headquarters of Barclays Bank, accused of large-scale tax avoidance, [2] and Moody’s Credit Ratings Agency, which failed to properly rate the risky financial products which led to the crash. [3]

Canary Wharf is situated in the London borough of Tower Hamlets, the local authority with the second highest rate of severe child poverty in the UK. [4] This year, Barclays Bank announced pay and bonuses for its top five staff of £110 million, [5] the day before Tower Hamlets Council was forced to agree cuts of £72 million to local services. [6]

Liam Taylor, 25, a history teacher in east London, says: “The Occupy movement is all about education: learning about the mess we’re in and talking about the alternatives we want. This tour will be a fun and creative way of taking that discussion back to some of the places where the crisis began.”

Mike Anderson, 24, says: “London is one of the most famous financial centres in the world, yet when tourists come here all they are shown are churches and palaces. These tours will expose the murkier side of London’s recent past.”

Organisers hope that this tour will be the first of many. Liam Taylor adds: “London is at the heart of the system we’re trying to change. Its most iconic buildings are where some of the most disastrous decisions get made. We invite anyone and everyone to come along and find out what is wrong and how we can start to change it.”

Notes
[1] Tuesday’s tour begins in Canada Square, outside Canary Wharf tube, at 5pm.
[2] Barclays paid just £113 million of corporate tax in 2009. http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2011/feb/18/barclays-bank-113m-corporation-tax
[3] The three main credit ratings agencies – Moody’s, Fitch, and Standard and Poor ‘s – issued AAA credit ratings to high-risk derivatives, while making their profits from fees paid by the companies issuing the derivatives. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/congress-mauls-bosses-of-credit-ratings-agencies-969792.html
[4] Save the Children, 2011. http://www.savethechildren.org.uk/news/2011/02/government-must-tackle-severe-child-poverty
[5] http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2011/mar/07/barclays-hands-five-bankers-110m
[6] According to the Mayor of Tower Hamlets, central government cuts are responsible for planned cuts of £72 million over the next three years, with £29 million of cuts in 2011-12. http://www.towerhamlets.gov.uk/news/council_news/march/outcome_of_final_budget_meetin.aspx

 
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