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The rise and fall
of a London
borough mayor

London, 27 April 2015:
Britain’s first and only Muslim elected mayor has been removed from office following a lengthy and sensational trial over corruption and election malpractice claims. Lutfur Rahman, mayor of the London borough of Tower Hamlets, was removed by a specially convened election court having been found guilty of widespread electoral fraud and misuse of public funds. The court barred Rahman from standing in the election for a new mayor, which will be held on 11 June and be contested by his principal opponent in the divisive and bitterly fought 2014 local elections, Labour’s John Biggs. Rahman’s “shocked” ‘Tower Hamlets First’ party are understood to be considering lodging an appeal against the ruling and his removal from office.

Proceedings against Bangladeshi-born Rahman, elected to the post as Tower Hamlets’ first directly elected mayor in 2010 and then re-elected in 2014, began with a petition lodged by disaffected local voters with the election court, a relatively rare procedure in the UK, which has existed since 1868. The case has shone a spotlight onto the often overlooked world of London local politics and is probably now the best known case of British municipal corruption since Dame Shirley Porter’s spectacular fall from grace as leader of Westminster City Council in the 1980s. Tower Hamlets is one of London’s 32 boroughs, immediately adjacent to the east of the City of London itself. It is better known for districts such as Whitechapel, Stepney and Bow, which constitute London’s traditional ‘East End’, as well as the Canary Wharf financial district on the Isle of Dogs.

The court found that Rahman had run a “ruthless and dishonest campaign” in 2014, as well as committed bribery in the form of grants to community groups, including those which “hadn’t even applied for them”. The court judge, Richard Mawrey, also found Rahman guilty of the offence of “undue spiritual influence”, which had remained dormant in the UK since the 19th century and disputes over Irish nationalism and Catholicism, on account of his campaign’s targeting of Muslim voters and suggesting that voting for Rahman was an “Islamic duty”. In a separate move, the UK Government had already taken the rare step of stripping Rahman’s administration of several of its powers and sent in an independent commission to administer the council on account of a 2014 BBC expose of routine abuse of power and funds.

The allegations against Rahman stem from both his conduct as mayor since 2010 and the divisive and bitterly fought 2014 election, which saw his principal Labour opponent John Biggs, a London Assembly Member, smeared as a “racist” by members of Rahman’s campaign team. Rahman himself was hitherto a member and councillor for the Labour Party until a ruling by its national executive committee which saw him removed as the official party candidate for the borough’s first mayoral election over allegations of ballot-rigging, which he strenuously denied.

Rahman stood and won twice against Labour in the local elections, during which time constant allegations of routine abuse of power and misuse of public funds were levelled against his administration, not least on account on dogged journalists on his trail seeking to expose his record. A vocal defender of the disgraced mayor to this day however is the former (2000-2008) Labour Mayor of London Ken Livingstone, who acted as an adviser to Rahman on regeneration and whose former key officials worked under him. Livingstone denounced the election court judge as an “unelected bureaucrat” and urged the mayor to appeal his ruling in absence of any police investigation. The Metropolitan Police however have said they will closely study the court’s ruling and consider action, having previously found no evidence of criminality.

More worryingly for the wider community perhaps, in response to a planned ‘Defend Democracy’ rally by Rahman’s supporters (including Ken Livingstone and anti-war MP George Galloway), far right political parties such as the National Front have signalled their intent to march through the borough, which saw the infamous 1936 Battle of Cable Street between fascist and anti-fascist combatants.

Greek mayors accuse
government of an
illegal seizure of funds

Athens, 25 April 2015:
The Greek parliament yesterday approved a government decree that will force local authorities and other public institutions such hospitals and universities to transfer any financial reserves to the country’s central bank. The decree, which was passed by 156 to 104 votes, was described as unconstitutional by opposition parliamentarians. Mayors of some of Greek’s largest cities spoke of an illegal seizure of municipal funds by the government. George Kaminis, the Mayor of Athens, said the government had dealt a blow to the independence of local government.

Under the terms of the decree, municipalities and other public bodies will be forced to ‘invest’ cash not needed for 15 days in the central bank’s ‘common fund’. The fund, which finances state, civil servants salaries and payments to international creditors, is thought to be almost exhausted. According to IMF sources, Greece needs €1.7 billion to meet this month’s salaries, state pensions and payments to international creditors. Estimates how much money the decree could raise vary from €500 million to €2.5 billion.

At a recent meeting in Vienna, George Kaminis told fellow EU mayors that, if the decree was enforced, it would threaten social cohesion and urban development. George Patoulis, the leader of the Greek union of local authorities, accused the government of acting like a dictatorship. He added that the union would appeal against the decree with the council of state.

The government’s parliamentary spokesman defended the legislation saying that municipalities would receive a better rate of interest than what they received from their banks. Yesterday, there were reports that some local authorities were ready to defy the government while others wanted to study the details of the decree before releasing any money.

Uber prepared to fight
Germany, France and
Spain in Brussels

Brussels, 6 April 2015:
Claiming that it was a technology company that supplies transportation software and NOT a transporter of people, Uber, the California-based start-up, has filed complaints against Germany, Spain and France with the European Commission. Courts in all three countries have or are expected to issue national bans on Uber’s basic car sharing service UberPop (UberX). The courts did not accept the company’s arguments that drivers using its software operated in a strictly private capacity, by pointing out that payments are handled through the company and not by the drivers and that Uber takes a 20 per cent cut of each fare.

Uber argued in its submission to the European Commission that Germany, France and Spain acted contrary to European legislation that requires member states to promote trade. An Uber spokesman said that this was supposed to be a single market but the reality was that the company was treated differently in different countries and even within individual countries.

Although Uber’s services are legal in the UK, London’s mayor Boris Johnson expressed some sympathy with the views of his city’s black-cab drivers who say that they have the sole right to use taxi meters in London. “The question courts will have to decide is whether smart phones calculating fares based on distance and time are equivalent to taxi meters.”

In a boost for Uber, the Commission told the Financial Times that it supported the development of ‘new and innovative mobility services’. According to the newspaper, the European Transport Commissioner wrote to the chairman of the European Parliament’s transport committee, suggesting that it should be considered whether ride-sharing services ought to be regulated Europe-wide rather than at national level.

Uber Technoligies Inc, which is the world’s second highest-rated start-up, has faced opposition across the world. In Australia, the Queensland state government reminded the company that it must meet relevant transport legislation, while in Canada Quebec’s transport ministry declared Uber illegal and warned drivers that they risk confiscation of their cars.

Last year, the Mayor of Seoul (South Korea) said that his administration would seek a ban of Uber because South Korean law prohibited fee-paying transport services that use unregistered private or rented vehicles. The company has announced last month that it would suspend its UberPop (UberX) services in the country. Thailand has also declared Uber illegal because its drivers and their cars were not licensed.

Uber, which has recently been valued at more than $40 billion, is thought to operate in 250 cities in some 55 countries. Potential passengers can connect with Uber drivers using smart phone apps.

Italian mayors face
constant intimidation
by organised crime

Palermo, 4 March 2015:
Being an Italian mayor is not a job for the fainthearted. An enquiry set up by the Italian Senate has found that between January 2013 and May of last year almost 1,300 mayors and other local politicians reported intimidation by organised crime syndicates but, as many contacts between the mafia and local government remain unreported, the actual number of threats is probably considerably higher. A member of the Senate enquiry team reported that during the recent recession local government has come under increasing pressure to award contracts to companies with links to the mafia. “The economic downturn has hit the construction industry hardest, a business sector where organised crime is well established.”

The public prosecutors office in Milan has highlighted the situation in Fino Mornasco, a community of less than 10,000 people, where the mayor and members of his administration received 17 threats, including burnt out cars and cut tyres. The town’s mayor, Giuseppe Napoli, said while he had no doubt who was behind the attacks, the police lacked the resources to catch the perpetrators or identify their bosses. Mayor Napoli added it was not pleasant to know that people who mean to harm you know where you live. “So far they have only resorted to threats and criminal damage but I fear sooner or later somebody may get hurt or even killed.”

Italy’s centre-left government has now promised towns and cities additional support to fight organised crime. A spokesman for the interior ministry said that local communities faced the greatest threat from the mafia and deserved the full support of all state authorities.

Anti-mafia campaigners have also urged the government to provide greater support grass root campaigns like Addiopizzo (Goodby extortion money). The movement was set up in 2004 by five graduates who wanted to break the stranglehold the Mafia had on the Palermo economy. They peppered the city with stickers which read that people who pay extortion money (pizzo) were people without dignity. By 2007, 210 businesses had signed up and more than 10,000 residents promised to buy only from businesses that were on the pizzo-free list.

According to a report by the University of Palermo, the mafia extorts some €160 million from shops and businesses in the Palermo region. It is also estimated that across Sicily, some 80 per cent of businesses pay extortion money. According to the university, the pizzo averages €457 (640 dollars) a month for retail traders and €578 for hotels and restaurants. Construction companies are often asked to pay more than €2,000.

Europe hits back
at US claims of
Muslim no-go zones

London, 16 February 2015:
Europe has ridiculed the suggestions by some American politicians and news presenters that parts of European cities with large Muslim populations had become no-go areas. Mentioned were cities like Birmingham, London, Paris and Marseille. While there are some European cities where the percentage of Muslim residents exceeds 20 per cent of the population there is no evidence of zones that are outside state control. Of course, the cultural and commercial activities of Muslim newcomers often take place in certain parts of cities but Muslims are behaving exactly like Chinese, Jewish and other immigrants did before them. The restaurants and shops of New York’s Chinatown, London’s Golders Green or Berlin’s Kreuzberg welcome and rely on visitors and customers from all other parts of the cities.

Last month, Steve Emerson, a so-called terrorism expert employed by the US news channel Fox, claimed that in some areas in cities like Paris, Marseille or Birmingham Muslims were in complete control. "In Britain, it's not just no-go zones, there are actual cities like Birmingham that are totally Muslim where non-Muslims just simply don't go in," he said. Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron called the Fox commentator a complete idiot.

Steve Emerson was not the only high-profile American who recently made unfounded claims about no-go areas in Britain and Europe. In a speech in London, Louisiana Governor and presidential hopeful Bobby Jindal warned that some European countries had allowed Muslims to establish autonomous neighbourhoods in cities where they govern by a harsh version of Islamic law. When asked by journalists to name specific examples, the governor declined but said he had heard from folks in London that there were neighbourhoods where women don’t feel comfortable going in without veils.

On his recent visit to the USA, London’s Conservative mayor Boris Johnson said the Republican governor from Louisiana was talking complete nonsense. The mayor said he would like to give Jindal a few lessons on the jumbled-up ethnic mix in the British capital. "There are no no-go zones,” Boris Johnson asserted and offered to take the governor to any area in London he thought were no-go zones.

In Paris, the city council has given Mayor Anne Hidalgo the go-ahead to sue Fox News over its claims that Paris had Islamic neighbourhoods governed by Shariah law which non-Muslims are forbidden to enter and police avoid going to. "I will not accept insults against our city and its people. What's in question here is not fun or a bad joke, it's lies," the mayor said. Fox News, which has apologised for factual errors in its reporting, countered that any decision by the City of Paris to bring legal proceedings against a US news organisation was antithetical to free speech.

The original assertions by Fox News won support from Nigel Farage, leader of the rightist UK Independence Party. He told The Daily Telegraph newspaper that Paris’ decision to sue Fox News was incomprehensible. He claimed that Britain and Europe have suffered from moral cowardice and allowed big ghettos to develop.

The US-based Pew Research Center found that in 2010 the number of Muslims in Europe, excluding Turkey but including countries like Albania and Kosovo, totalled 44 million or six per cent of the European population. The number of Muslims in European Union countries was approximately 19 million or 3.8 per cent of the EU population.

But Muslims in Europe are not a homogeneous group. The majority of Muslims originate from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Turkey or the Maghreb countries of Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia and, more recently, from the war-torn Middle East. They left their homelands for a great variety of reasons including political and cultural persecution, economic aspiration, security concerns and as a consequence of Britain’s withdrawal from India and Pakistan after World War II and France’s decision to grant independence to its North African territories during the 1950s (Morocco and Tunisia) and 1960s (Algeria).

European cities with large Muslim populations*
Muslim population
as % of total
Blackburn UK
Brussels Belgium
Marseille France
Rotterdam Netherlands
Bradford UK
Luton UK
Antwerp Netherland
Birmingham UK
Stockholm Sweden
Malmö Sweden
Leicester UK
Manchester UK
Paris France
The Hague Netherlands
London UK
Cologne Germany
Vienna Austria
Copenhagen Denmark
Berlin Germany
Antwerp Belgium
*Please note: The above figures were collected by different research organisations at different times using different methods. They are therefore not strictly comparable.

Municipal treasurers
unprepared for sudden
strength of Swiss franc

Zurich, 18 January 2015:
Last week’s unexpected decision by the Swiss National Bank to abandon the franc’s fixed link of Sfr1.20 to one euro has sent shockwaves through the treasury departments of many local and regional authorities in Europe. First indications are that municipalities in Germany, France and Austria, which took out loans denominated in Swiss francs, will face considerably higher repayment costs. Prior to the 2008 financial crisis, Swiss banks and other European financial institutions offered long-term franc-loans at interest rates that were much lower than those available in euros. At a time when the exchange rate between the euro and the Swiss franc was relatively stable, many local government treasurers believed the financial packages offered were too good to miss. Since then the value of the euro has dropped from an average of Sfr1.50 to almost parity.

Recent research by Reuters showed that French communities owed some five billion euros linked to the Swiss franc. Since the Swiss decision to allow the country’s currency to free-float, this debt has nominally increased by some 24 per cent. Reuters was told that the euro’s drop had also led to an ‘explosion’ of interest rates. “In some cases interest rates have doubled and tripled.”

The London-based Guardian newspaper reported in 2011 that Saint-Tropez, on the French Riveria, took out a 20-year loan with an interest rate, which was initially fixed at four cent but has been pegged to the value of the Swiss franc since 2012. With the franc at its present value, the interest on the loan could be as high as 30 per cent.

Austria’s capital Vienna also took out a Swiss-franc denominated loan before the financial upheaval in 2008. At the end of 2014, when one euro was worth Sfr1.20, the value of the debt was estimated to be €1.66 billion. Now with an exchange rate of virtually one to one, the size of the debt has increased by some €300 million. Federal states in Austria, which also face considerable losses, include Salzburg, Kärnten and Tirol.

In North-Rhine Westphalia, Germany’s largest state, some 29 local authorities are thought to have taken out loans linked to the Swiss franc. Gladbeck, a town of some 74,000 people has outstanding debts of 85 million francs or more than 1,000 francs per citizen. Mayor Ulrich Roland has warned that loan repayments are bound to increase dramatically.

The city of Essen, also in North-Rhine Westphalia, missed an opportunity to repay its 450-million Swiss franc loan last year, which it could have done for €374 million. Today, the city treasurer would have to find an additional €70 million but Lars Martin Klieve remains stoic. The euro will recover, he believes. In the meantime, the treasurers of Konstanz and Säckingen – both cities are on the border with Switzerland – have warned that municipal charges may have to go up if the strength of the Swiss franc continues.

Rome to bid for 2024
Olympics amidst
corruption and recession

Rome, 29 December 2014:
Italy’s Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said that Rome would go ahead with its bid for the 2024 Summer Olympics despite of a massive corruption investigation in the country’s capital city. Earlier this month, the police arrested some 40 people after it had uncovered a criminal network in Rome, dubbed Mafia Capitale. The authorities also placed more than 100 people, including Rome’s former mayor Gianni Alemanno, under investigation. The charges include extortion, corruption, fraud, money laundering and embezzlement.

The police alleged that criminal gangs, whose members include Massimo Carminati, a notorious criminal who was given a 10-year prison sentence in 1998, were awarded municipal contracts after bribing and threatening city officials. In clandestine recordings gang members are heard to tell municipal employees that they faced dire consequences unless work was given to criminal front companies. “You need us to dig ditches? Erect hoardings?” Fine, we’ll do it. If I then find out that someone else did it - then it becomes something unpleasant.”

Gianni Alemanno, who was Mayor of Rome from 2008 until June 2013 and one of former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi closest political allies, has denied any wrongdoing despite the authorities saying that a powerful criminal network involving mafia-style gang members, senior politicians and public managers had infiltrated City Hall. The police also alleged that the network had close links with neo-fascist groups. Until the accusations surfaced, Alemanno was a senior figure in the Brothers of Italy party, which traces its origins to Mussolini’s fascism.

Rome’s current centre-left mayor has ordered a review of all city contracts.

The Italian Prime Minister’s announcement that Rome would go ahead with its bid to host the 2014 Olympics has been met with derision and criticism. Politicians from the left and right called the plan madness. “The investigations into Rome and the mafia are ongoing and now we want to hand them the Olympics on a plate?” asked Matteo Salvini, leader of the Northern League. Rome was a candidate for the 2020 Olympics but the bid was dropped by the then Prime Minister Mario Monti, who said it would have been an unacceptable drain on public resources.

Italy, which is currently experiencing its worst recession since World War II, has, according to a report by the European Commission, more incidents of corruption than any other EU member country.

Spanish authorities arrest
51 suspected of local
government corruption

Madrid, 28 October 2014:
Spanish police have arrested 51 people in connection with one of the country’s most widespread operations against corruption in local government. A spokesman for Spain’s public prosecutor said the collusion between local councillors and civil servants with builders and utility companies as well as the corruption of middle-men and key companies, had helped them to secure contracts worth around €250 million (US$320m) in the last two years alone.

Spanish newspapers reported that those arrested included the former Popular Party senator and deputy first minister of Madrid, Francisco Granados, the Popular Party chairman of the province of León, Marcos Martínez, and the mayors of six towns in Greater Madrid, including Valdemoro, Parla, Collado Villalba, Torrejón de Velasco, Casarrubielos and Serranillos.

Most of the arrested politicians belong to Spain’s governing centre-right Popular Party (PP) but a former Socialist Party (PSE) mayor of the south-eastern city of Cartagena was also detained.

The 51 suspects will be charged with money laundering, falsifying documents, tax crimes, bribery, influence peddling, misuse of funds, misconduct in public office, revealing secrets, undertaking negotiations prohibited to civil servants, administrative fraud and criminal organisation. Banks have been ordered to block 400 accounts. The public prosecutor also ordered the seizure of more than 250 properties and 30 luxury motorcars. His office said that elected local government officials and civil servants awarded contracts to construction companies and other businesses in exchange for backhanders.

Operation Punic is ongoing but comes nine months after Swiss authorities tipped off their Spanish counterparts in January. Francisco Granados resigned as a PP senator in February 2014 after the Spanish daily El Mundo uncovered the existence of a €1.5 million Swiss bank account in his name.

In April, an investigation by The Spain Report found that Spanish courts were investigating some 1,660 political and economic cases.

English cities retain less
of local tax product than
many foreign competitors

London, 4 August 2014:
Last week England’s eight biggest cities outside London called on the British government to grant them greater freedom to control their own destinies. The leaders of Birmingham, Bristol, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham and Sheffield claimed that transferring powers from central to local government would create 1.16 million new jobs and add £222 billion (US$375bn) to the national economy by 2030.

Joe Anderson, the Mayor of Liverpool, said that he knew his city better than anyone in Whitehall (London’s government district). “If Liverpool was able to retain more of the taxes it raises we could use them to generate the right skills to enable people to get jobs, attract more investment and give more support to business. At the moment 95 per cent of taxes raised in Liverpool are sent to the government whereas cities in Germany, Sweden, Canada and the US keep up to 10 times more. We need more decentralisation if we are to compete globally," the mayor maintained.

Mayor Anderson was correct when he asserted that in the UK local tax income as a percentage of total tax revenue was woefully low but it is by no means the lowest amongst EU or OECD member countries. According to the Paris-based OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development), local tax proceeds in the UK account for just under five per cent of total tax revenue, while it was more than 15 per cent in the US and 13 and eight per cent in France and Germany respectively. In Japan local taxes account for more than 25 per cent of total revenue, while in the Czech Republic, Greece and Mexico the corresponding figures are below two per cent.

Local tax revenue as percentage of total
general tax revenue in selected countries

Local tax
South Korea
New Zealand
Slovak Republic
Czech Republic
Source: OECD

English mayors’
use of Twitter
still in its infancy

London, 1 July 2014:
While most leading politicians insist that social media plays an important part in their efforts to communicate with voters, Britain’s elected mayors only make half-hearted use of sites such as Twitter. Only the British capital’s mayor Boris Johnson can claim that a sizeable proportion of Londoners follows his tweets, even though many of his 900,000 plus followers are probably admirers from across the country and indeed the world. Of England’s 16 elected mayors, eleven maintain personal Twitter accounts to respond to and address their fellow citizens. With a following of 934,000, London’s Boris Johnson potentially reaches more than eleven per cent of residents while, with a reach-score of 4.5 per cent, Bristol Mayor George Ferguson is distant second to his colleague in London.

Boris Johnson started tweeting almost immediately after he defeated Ken Livingstone in May 2008. Other mayors like Bristol’s George Ferguson or Liverpool’s Joe Anderson signed up to Twitter more recently. The Mayor of Mansfield’s love for Twitter only lasted from March to August 2011.

With Twitter’s unspoken etiquette of ‘I follow you and then you follow me’, one of the reasons for Boris Johnson’s success in attracting followers is the large number of individuals and organisations (3,871) he proclaims to follow. Other mayors, with the exception of Tower Hamlet’s Lutfur Rahman, all track less than one thousand Twitterers.

While English mayors with Twitter pages follow predominantly individuals and organisations with local connections, some are also keen to track the tweets of national and international people of prominence. Boris Johnson is a fan of Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and also follows the tweets of the UK’s Prime Minister David Cameron as well as those of Bill Gates, Rupert Murdoch and actor Danny DeVito. Liverpool’s mayor follows Michael Bloomberg and Richard Branson on Twitter, while among the Twitter pages Bristol Mayor George Ferguson follows include those of J K Rowling, Arianne Huffington and Kevin Spacey.

English mayors on Twitter
On Twitter since
Population reach
Boris Johnson, London May 2008
George Ferguson. Bristol December 2011
Dave Hodgson, Bedford September 2009
Joe Anderson, Liverpool February 2012
Dorothy Thornhill, Watford July 2009
Lutfur Rahman, Tower Hamlets December 2010
Ros Jones, Doncaster n/a
Ian Stewart, Salford March 2012
Tony Egginton, Mansfield March 2011
Steve Bullock, Lewisham April 2009
Norma Redfearn, North Tyneside February 2012
Research: 30 June 2014

London’s Boris Johnson follows on Twitter:
Matteo Renzi, Italian Prime Minister
Bertrand Delanoe, Former Mayor of Paris
Raymond Blank, Celebrity chef
Mo Farah, Olympic Gold medal winner
David Cameron, UK Prime Minister
Bill Gates, Founder of Microsoft
Brian Paddick, Former Liberal Democrat candidate for London Mayor
Rupert Murdoch, Media mogul
David Miliband, Former UK foreign minister
Danny DeVito, Actor
Alan Rusbridger, Editor of The Guardian newspaper
William Hague, UK Foreign Minister

Liverpool’s Joe Anderson follows on Twitter
Daniel Finkelstein, Political commentator
Vince Cable, UK Business Secretary
Edwina Currie, Former Tory minister
John Prescott, Former UK Deputy Prime Minister
Kenneth Dalglish, Football manager
Mike Bloomberg, Former Mayor of New York
Alastair Campbell, Former spokesman for Tony Blair
George Ferguson, Mayor of Bristol
Tom Menino, Former Mayor of Boston
George Osborne, UK Chancellor of the Exchequer (Finance Minister)
Boris Johnson, Mayor of London
Ed Miliband, Leader of the Labour Party
David Cameron, UK Prime Minister
Richard Branson, Entrepreneur

Bristol’s George Ferguson follows on Twitter
J K Rowling, Author of Harry Potter
Paddy Ashdown, Former leader of the Liberal Democrats
Arianna Huffington, Founder of the Huffington Post
Jamie Oliver, Celebrity chef
Joe Anderson, Mayor of Liverpool
Nick Clegg, UK Deputy Prime Minister
Ed Miliband, Leader of the Labour Party
David Cameron, UK Prime Minister
John Prescott, Former UK Deputy Prime Minister
Rupert Murdoch, Media mogul
Kevin Spacey, Actor
Caroline Lucas, Britain’s only Green MP
Richard Branson, Entrepreneur

World Mayor 2014
The results of World Mayor 2014 were announced on 3 February 2015

The rise and fall of a London borough mayor

Greek mayors accuse government of an illegal seizure of funds

Uber prepared to fight Germany, France and Spain in Brussels

Italian mayors face constant intimidation by organised crime

Europe hits back at US claims of Muslim no-go zones
(Photo: East London is home to a thriving Bangladeshi community)

Municipal treasurers unprepared for sudden strength of Swiss franc

Rome to bid for 2024 Olympics amidst corruption and recession

Spanish authorities arrest 51 suspected of local government corruption

English cities retain less of local tax product than many foreign competitors

English mayors’ use of Twitter still in its infancy