Working with the Lord Mayor
Liverymen will know that the Lord Mayor’s busy schedule includes travelling extensively during the year of office. The Sheriffs are included as appropriate. I was asked to accompany the Lord Mayor on a visit to the US and Canada in the week of 9th July. This would be my first time flying since Covid and the news from Heathrow was not encouraging.
When the flight out was cancelled, the Lord Mayor persuaded BA to put on a larger plane for that afternoon and we arrived only a few hours’ late. The programme was centred around the US launch of the Global Investment Futures platform that was unveiled in the City in February. The seminar and opening would be at the New York Stock Exchange (https://www.nyse.com/index) An iconic location to emphasis the strength and depth of the City market that has huge expertise and is especially world leading in Green Finance. The after party was on the NYSE trading floor.
On the visit to Canada we met a range of pension funds and investors who were already committed to the London market, were ready to expand or starting out. Our engagement always featured the benefits of the Global London market – the skills, innovation and expertise especially in Environmental Social and Governance matters.
Many of the buildings boasted climate friendly credentials but none more than the building at 1000 Place Jean-Paul-Riopelle in Montreal where we met CDPQ (https://www.cdpq.com/en)
The Lord Mayor managed to find half an hour to visit one of the many memorials to the famous son of Montreal, Leonard Cohen.
July also saw two of the most significant dinners that the Lord Mayor hosts – one for the Judges and the other for the Financial and Professional Services. Both involve as the main guest the relevant Secretary of State. At the time of these dinners the turmoil at Westminster was just unfolding. In fact both Ministers attended and the Chancellor made his first speech in that role. He even managed to riff on the fact that it might be his last dinner in that role! See his speech here. Both dinners are key parts of the Lord Mayor and Corporation’s engagement with the business community providing a platform and venue to speak and meet.
Old Bailey news
The Old Bailey, alongside all other Courts, is in the midst of a strike of the criminal bar. This has been ongoing at a low level for some months but has stepped up to mean that the strike is impacting on a week on/week off basis. See this article The action included a large gathering outside the Old Bailey with placards, megaphones and a police presence. This is seriously impacting the efficient working of the criminal justice system but I have a huge sympathy for the low rates of pay for criminal legal aid and the knock on effect on justice.
Meanwhile 28th July saw the first filming inside an Old Bailey Court Room following a plan by the Court Service to open up the criminal justice process. The scope is limited with only the Judge being filmed whilst giving the sentence. HHJ Sarah Munro QC in Court 2 was the first Judge to be filmed and I was pleased to lend support in the well of the Court.
The Guildhall Art Gallery have put on display in the Heritage Gallery the Royal Charter granted by King John on 5th July 1199 that confirms the right of the City of London to elect two Sheriffs. Sheriff Nick and I visited the Charter ( displayed alongside the City’s copy of the Magna Carta) and were honoured to feel the weight of history on our shoulders: https://guildhallhistoricalassociation.files.wordpress.com/2017/01/15-the-office-of-sheriff-and-the-city-of-london.pdf
Wider reach of the Sheriff
July 4th turned out to be a day of non-stop engagement with those programmes where I am taking a leading part. Breakfast saw the launch of the Skills for a Sustainable Skyline Taskforce that the City Corporation has created with the City Property Association in order to understand and plug the current construction skills gap that will hamper the drive to green and energy efficient commercial buildings.
Led by Chris Hayward (Chairman of Policy and Resources) and seen in the photo with the London Minister Paul Scully MP and me. Read more here. The work has engagement from many construction, training and professional services.
Next event was the AGM of the London Road Safety Council where I am the Chair and we met to conduct our formal business. We also heard about the issue of the disproportionate effect of road traffic collisions on deprived neighbourhoods which the LRSC has been highlighting and has now become a priority for Transport for London as well.
In the afternoon I opened the Livery Climate Action Group Conference in Merchant Taylors’ Hall – a terrific endorsement of the work of the Livery Companies in understanding and acting on the climate challenge in their operations. Over 100 attended and the content and after effect on membership is tremendous. See the write up here.
The end of the day was the time for the AGM of the Sheriffs’ and Recorder’s Fund that is based at and run from the Old Bailey to help offenders, ex offenders and their families. A stimulating talk by Charlie Taylor, the Chief Inspector of Prisons, made us all think about the below standard conditions in our jails and the waste of lives if we do nothing to help the offenders return to society in a meaningful way.
I was pleased to be able to attend the Cartmarking in Guildhall Yard masterminded by the Carmen. I had only arrived back from Montreal 2 hours earlier! It was a hot sunny day and the entrants all sparkled – none more so than the bijou travelling carousel that won a prize from the Master Carmen and consort.
A great initiative led by Master Wax Chandler Anthony Bickmore, created a seminar on Stimulating Talent through Equality Diversity and Inclusion. A topic of such import to the Livery Companies and a session that will spark positive outcomes across the Livery. Sheriff Nick and I both attended to give our warmest support to this topic.
A deferred race took place on 25th July being the Admiral of the Port Challenge for Thames’ Waterman’s Cutters. Starting off HQS Wellington and rowing to Westminster Boating Base, the cutters had a hard time as the tide was fierce and the wind against them.
Many Liveries have cutters. The Scientific Instrument Makers won the men’s crew and the Water Conservators the ladies’ crew. I helped start the race and award the prizes safely from the City’s launch Londinium III.
Whilst August is traditionally a quiet month, I am planning some interesting visits around the City and will be reporting on these in due course. Enjoy the summer break!
Alderman & Sheriff Alison Gowman