■ One of the cheerier moments in an arduously long planning sub-committee this month was Chair Vincent Stops’ reaction to two suited and booted Shoreditch types seeking to turn a bit of their hotel into a private members’ bar. “What’s the difference”, asked Mr Stops in his best crotchety voice, “between a members’ club and a nightclub?” The suits shuffled their papers and looked at their brogues. “It’s okay Vincent”, a Council officer soothed him, “it’s a networking place for the global business community.”
■ At the very same meeting, McDonald’s City Road was seeking a 24-hour license. Objectors Nick Perry and Cllr Carole Williams sketched a Dantean scene should the hours be rubberstamped: chip fat sticking to door handles, burger grease oozing and car doors slamming. “It’s seedy”, said Williams “it’s grubby, and its contrary to our vision for the borough”. But Environmental Health apparently could not smell the chips when residents complained. “Give them 12 months”, said Vincent Stops with the air of a man who could take no more, “and get the smell and noise people in to find out what’s going on”.
■ And finally, let’s call a spade a spade. The Council’s ‘Tree Office’ in Hoxton Square is not a “solution to London’s workspace shortage”. It’s eight people squashed around a tree trunk in a semi-transparent office dripping with condensation, trying to get a wi-fi connection.