Select Committee on Public Administration Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum by the City Remembrancer's Office

Further to our conversation this morning I attach the note from the Corporation of the City of London on citizen participation.

  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 matter.

  4.  New consultative arrangements to strengthen its commitment to consulting with residents are now being proposed. These include:

    (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 City.

  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 worldwide audience.

  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 copy.

  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 regularly.

    (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 electronic commerce.

    (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.

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