Memorandum by the City Remembrancer's
Further to our conversation this morning I attach
the note from the Corporation of the City of London on citizen
As I mentioned to you (and having attended one
of the sessions) I am not that confident that the note addresses
the particular issues the Committee has in mind. A large part
of it deals with consultation with the business community and
the techniques used in relation to residents will be already known
to Members. The use of the Internet and e-mail may, however, be
regarded as innovative in this sphere.
P R E Double
Director, City Remembrancer's Office
1. This paper provides background information
on citizen participation in the administration of the City of
London on the basis that the Committee may wish to know how the
issue of citizen participation is being approached in relation
to an area which is compact and primarily commercial rather than
residential in nature. The arrangements described refer to the
Common Council (an executive of the City Corporation) as the municipal
authority for the City. Other activities of the City Corporation
not attributable to this role are not detailed in this note.
2. The fact that there are only about 6,000
residents within the City of London enables consultation with
them on issues as they arise and the use of the more traditional
methods of consultation such as direct correspondence and public
meetings. Thus, for example, before the recent "June 18th"
disturbances aimed at disrupting the financial institutions of
the City, all residents were contacted so as to give them as much
information as was available on the proposed demonstrations, and
helpline numbers for further queries were set up. A large number
of City residents took the opportunity to use this service.
3. The proposals for the GLA constituencies
were the subject of a well-attended public meeting at Guildhall
in June 1998. The Town Clerk gave a presentation on the six proposals
which suggested linking the City with either boroughs to the west,
north or east of the City. It is understood the City was the only
local authority area in London to consult with residents on this
4. New consultative arrangements to strengthen
its commitment to consulting with residents are now being proposed.
(a) A Residents' Liaison Unit created in
the Town Clerk's Office.
(b) Twice yearly Residents' Meetings. The
first of these was held in the summer and the next round of meetings
will take place in January 2000.
(c) Resident Members to be guaranteed a proportion
of places on certain Common Council committees to ensure that
residents' interests are represented at all relevant committees.
(d) The information flow to residents to
be improved. A regularly produced magazine"Cityview"now
includes a special residents' news-sheet in addition to its regular
news and information of the range of services and activities both
within the City boundaries and outside.
5. Consultation takes place with individuals
representing the range of City interests on a continuing basis.
These arrangements will soon be strengthened by the introduction
in early 2000 of an "Aftercare Programme" which will
be run from the Economic Development Unit at Guildhall. In the
first year 50 firms will be visited by senior Members and Officers
of the Common Council who will each make five visits to institutions
within a particular sector including Banking, Accountancy, Property,
Legal Stockbroking, Insurance, Fund Management, Maritime, FTSE
and Markets and Associations. Suitable institutions have been
identified and the visits are currently being scheduled.
6. An initiative known as the "City
Panel" aims to consult the amorphous and less accessible
groups which cover, among others, those included in the statutory
definition set out in the Local Government Act such as professional
associations located within the City, Livery Companies, non-domestic
ratepayers, representatives of businesses and commuters, local
charities, local voluntary groups and non-UK workers within the
7. The Panel will consist of 1,000 individuals
and will comprise a statistically representative body who will
be consulted on a variety of issues surrounding the provision
of local government services within the City.
8. The website has grown substantially since
it was launched two years ago. The site covers the full range
of the Corporation's activities from the local government functions
provided by the Common Council through to the history and heritage
of the Corporation and the Mayoralty. The site is visited by a
9. The site was used with considerable success
over the euro conversion weekend and is being used in the run
up to the new Millennium. The security planning section is currently
the main source of information for Millennium Eve activities for
City based contingency planners who have the ability to subscribe
to an e-mail system which sends out regular security planning
information from the Corporation and the City of London Police.
In the aftermath of the "June 18th" disturbances in
the City, pictures of suspects have been posted on the website
and this has led to a number of arrests.
10. The site is becoming more interactive;
encouraging more email contact with the Corporation and providing
documents for download. New research carried out by the Economic
Development Unit is now published on the site as well as in hard
11. The demand for electronic provision
of information is increasing. The Corporation is currently investigating
a major expansion of the site to encompass e-commerce and e-business
possibilities including the possibility of linking up to existing
back office systems. It is recognised that it is an environment
where many constituents have easy access. The Internet facilitates
this approach and it is the aim to maximise this potential.
12. The following are examples of interactive
arrangements with the City community:
(a) Arrangements have been made for City
business to be briefed directly by the organisers of the "Big
Time" Millennium celebrations, the public transport providers
and the Police. These have been very well attended conferences.
In addition the website has provided a service for contingency
planners and City workers in the run up to the Millennium celebrations
with a dedicated section on the site which is of course updated
(b) The proposal for the taxation of cross-border
interest payments (the "Withholding Tax") has involved
a consultation with a wide range of individuals representing many
interests. The City is concerned about this proposal primarily
because of its potential impact on the eurobond market. It assessed
that the directive could both drive business out of the EU altogether
and significantly increase the administrative burden on the remaining
business. As the extent of the City's concerns became known, the
Corporation took advantage of its links with the EU institutions,
in particular the European Parliament and Commission and organised
an ongoing programme of lobbying events, both in London and Brussels.
This included high-level round-table meetings, for example with
Commissioner Monti, who was responsible for the original proposal,
and more recently Commissioner Bolkestein, his successor in addition
to liaising closely with the City trade federations and UK MEPs
to seek amendments to the draft proposal.
(c) The Corporation collaborated with the
Worshipful Company of Information Technologists, a livery company,
to establish a consultation mechanism for the EU proposals affecting
e-commerce. A group was brought together comprising representatives
from trade associations and financial institutions, some of whom
were lawyers, others who were computer specialists. Meetings were
held to discuss the issues and concerns raised by the Government's
intended legislation, and by the EU Directive on certain legal
aspects of electronic commerce. In the latter case Christine Oddy,
the European Parliament rapporteur on the directive attended,
so practitioners were able to make their representations to her
directly. In addition, a conference hosted by the Corporation
and attended by 200 City representatives from senior positions
within their companies, debated strategic issues posed by the
(d) Revision of the City of London Unitary
Development Plan. The Common Council as local authority for the
City is concerned that all those who are interested should have
every opportunity to become involved in the review and make their
views known. The review process involves a considerable amount
of public consultation, and the first stage of this was carried
out in October and November 1998. A series of 12 "Discussions
Papers" have been published. These aim to stimulate public
debate on the planning issues which need to be addressed by the
review of the plan. Information about the review was sent to every
residential and business address in the City as well as to many
other interested parties across London. About 2000 requests for
the papers were received, and another 800 copies were downloaded
from the internet. Comments on the papers were made by a wide
spectrum of respondents representing the many different organisations
and individuals. These included businesses, ranging from the large
financial institutions to small traders, amenity, community and
environmental groups, landowners and development interests, churches,
livery companies, transport operators and statutory bodies, as
well as many individual City residents and workers.
(e) The Corporation is sponsoring a Private
Bill, the City of London (Ward Elections) Bill which aims to extend
the existing electoral arrangements so that individuals drawn
from all businesses can participate in the electoral process.
An extensive consultation programme was embarked upon with the
senior Members of the Common Council and the Town Clerk attending
over 50 meetings with residents, individual firms and trade associations
to explain the proposals.
13. A variety of other methods used to gauge
the effectiveness of other activities conducted under the umbrella
of the City Corporation. These include the use of consultation
committees drawn from local people and interest groups. A number
of the Open Spaces provided by the City in and around Greater
London provide successful examples of this approach. Service user
forums are another example, and the City's charitable grant giving
activities uses such a forum.