I went in to look at Ken's headquarters last weekend. There is quite an impressive model of the river and surrounding buildings on the lower floor. The reception area was very hot( obviously not very well air conditioned )The big disappointment was that I could not go to the 9th floor to get the essential river view as promised in media articles prior to the opening. The viewing gallery is going to be open on open house day, something like 20/21st September, although groups may be able to arrange a visit at other times.
Wouldn't it be a good idea to give Southwark residents Advantage Cards so that we can utilise local attractions cheaply at off-peak times?
I went in to City Hall several times in the first week of opening in the hope of getting to the 9th floor. On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, they were closed or closing for a function. Finally, on Friday, I got lucky. I also got to see in the main chamber, and walk up the stairs around it. Someone who worked there was saying that it would take some time to get used to the area being so open to the public, which made me think the 9th floor and the chamber would usually be accessible.
My main impression was that no-one seemed to know what was going on. I know it was the first week, but communication seemed to be really bad and the security guards were not at all helpful. I assumed that they would sort it out so that it would be obvious when the areas were being used for meetings or 'functions' but the rest of the time the public could get in. I think it's a real let down if it turns out we can only go in for a a couple of days every few months. So much for the symbol of open government.
I walked in the day before the official opening. got up to the 9th floor, very impressive, as you come out of the lift and look south the huge panoramic windows look like a baddie's lair from a bond film (just needed a huge wingtip armchair and a cat for me to stroke). The views from the balcony are wonderful (the main advantage is it's the one point round there that the view isn't spoiled by the mayors office).
I can't see how they are going to sort out the security though and one point is the rails around the balcony are only chest height don't think it will be too long before ken's first jumper.
Another point, I was all for having Ken for mayor, I even managed to put a big spanner in Frank Dobson's bid. But since his election I read a book that highlighted how often Ken changes his views and goes back on his promises. Does anyone hear remember him saying before the election that the city hall was a monstrosity and he would never run his officefrom there. I also seem to remember that in his manifesto he saidthat the elected mayor should only be allowed to run for one term.