How the City of London Works


City Civic
The role of Common Councilman and The Ward Clerk
A view from our Common Councilman - Elizabeth Rogula
Having been originally elected to represent the Ward of Lime Street in July 2008 via a by-election, I was delighted to be re-elected in March 2009 and 2013 for a period of 4 years.

I had no real idea of what to expect of the role when I first stood for election but I have really enjoyed my time so far, in particularly getting to know more about how this amazing City is governed. As a Common Councilman I sit on various committees, including Markets and also Community and Children’s Services, both which meet once a month. The Markets Committee is responsible for looking after the affairs of Billingsgate Fish Market, Smithfield Meat Market and Spitalfields Fruit Market. To be able to see how they work has been fascinating I would highly recommend attending the Harvest Festival at Billingsgate. This is a unique experience, singing hymns in the middle of the market, whilst it was trading, accompanied by a fantastic brass band at 7.15 in the morning! I would encourage anyone to visit these markets during their trading times as the atmosphere is fantastic and the produce both fresher and cheaper that you will ever find in a supermarket.

The Community and Children’s Services Committee provides housing accommodation and sporting and leisure opportunities for residents of the City and those who work in the City or for the City of London. The Committee is also responsible for the full range of Social Services functions within the City.

The Court of Common Council meets every month (other than August) at Guildhall. The Court debates and makes decisions on the most crucial issues that have arisen from the work of the City of London’s many different committees. Did you know that its format has not changed in hundreds of years and members of the public are welcome to attend? For more information see http://www.cityoflondon.gov.uk

I have been very lucky to attend a number of banquets at Guildhall and Mansion House and my only complaint is that the gentlemen, in particular the Lord Mayor, can sometimes look more glamorous in their ceremonial attire than the ladies!

The Role of the Ward Clerk
John Bristow long standing member of the Ward club explains his role

The City's unique electoral system predates Parliament and the division of the City into 25 wards is evident in the earliest written records. The wards were the military, judicial and administrative units for the area.

In Saxon times the Wardmote referred to a meeting of the ward held to announce candidates for an election. The Wardmote provided the opportunity to ask questions of the candidates and also for the candidates to address the electors.

On the second Friday in March a Wardmote is still held in each ward and the honorary Ward Clerk here performs his annual duties.

The Town Clerk of the City of London at Guildhall is the man who officially oversees elections but because all 25 Wardmotes take place on the same day, each ward has an honorary Ward Clerk to act as secretary at the Wardmote. The Ward Clerk arranges the agenda and reports back to Guildhall on any discussions which have taken place and on any requests made by the electors. The Wardmote is chaired by the Alderman and attended by the Ward Common Councilmen. In 2011 our Alderman Sir John, was especially busy as there was a contested election for a seat as Common Councilman in Lime Street Ward - see above.

The position of Honorary Ward Clerk is in the gift of the Alderman and is an annual appointment.

Every four years there is an election for Common Councilmen, and the Alderman has to seek re-election every six years. On these occasions the honorary Ward Clerk has certain other duties, such as reading at the Wardmote the precept. This is an instruction from the Lord Mayor to hold an election.

In our Ward it has been essential that electors be allowed into Lloyd's, where the Wardmote is usually held, and entry is generally given to holders of the Lloyd's security pass. Organising this is generally the Ward Clerk's job, as is ensuring that the Alderman, Beadle, Common Councilmen, electors and candidates are aware of the arrangements and agenda.

The post carries a small stipend but it is a great honour to be asked to take up this traditional role.

The City of London - the most ancient part of the metropolis called Greater London. The Guildhall operates as its "town hall"

City of London Corporation is the local authority for The City of London reposible for 300,000 commuters per day, 7,900 +/- residents.
One of the City Corporation's main objectives is to support and promote the City as the world leader in International Finance and Business services

There is a structured range of committees under the title of Court of Common Council. The overall strategic direction is set by its Policy and Resources Committee. As with any local authority it is involved in planning, housing, highways, cleansing, parks and gardens, health, markets, education, the arts and so on

The City Owns over 10,000 acres of green spaces from the small City Gardens all over the Square Mile to Hampstead Heath, Epping Forest and Burnham Beeches fall under its remit.

Is responsible for the City of London Police, The Central Criminal Court at the Old Bailey, the 5 City Bridges (ex railway bridges) (Tower, London, Southwark, Blackfriars and Millenium), Barbican Arts Centre (home to the London Symphony Orchestra - LSO, sponsored by the City Corporation.

The City Bridge Trust - sole trustee City of London Coroporation, funds the maintenance of the 5 City Bridges and in addition donates "in many cases very quietly" around £1,500,000 to worth causes.