The City of London Corporation is the world’s oldest continuously existing municipal democracy.
There is no surviving record of the Corporation’s creation, but it is regarded at law as incorporated by prescription, because it has existed for so long. In 1067, William the Conqueror granted the citizens of London a charter confirming the rights and privileges that they had enjoyed since the time of Edward the Confessor. This was subsequently confirmed in Magna Carta, which states that “the City of London shall have/enjoy its ancient liberties”.
Around 1189, the City gained the right to have its own mayor, later being advanced to the degree and style of Lord Mayor of London. The citizenry are represented by the Court of Common Council, known by that name since at least as far back as 1376, and over time the Common Council grew in importance and has been the principal governing body of the City of London since the 18th century.
In addition to the local authority services usually provided by a London borough council, the Corporation owns or is custodian of:
- The Central Criminal Court (Old Bailey), Mayor’s and City of London County Court, and the City of London Magistrates’ Court
- 11,000 acres of open space – including Epping Forest, Hampstead Heath, Highgate Wood, West Ham Park, Queen’s Park, and Burnham Beeches
- Three of London’s wholesale food markets – Smithfield, Billingsgate, and New Spitalfields
- The Barbican Centre, Guildhall School of Music and Drama, and the Museum of London
- Three independent schools and ten academies
- London Bridge, Tower Bridge, Blackfriars Bridge, Southwark Bridge, and the Millennium Bridge
- City Bridge Trust – London’s largest independent grant-maker
The Corporation is also the police authority for the City of London Police, which provides territorial policing for the Square Mile and is also the national lead force on economic crime.
The City’s Lord Mayor is an international business ambassador who, with the Corporation’s Policy Chair, represents London’s financial, professional services, shipping, and fintech sectors domestically and around the world.
The Corporation is fortunate to hold private and charitable investment assets valued at around £7 billion which enables it to fund many of its activities at no cost to the taxpayer.
I am proud to have been an elected Member of the Court of Common Council for almost twenty years, holding a variety of leading roles in that time, including chairing the City’s Licensing and Standards Committees, and currently the Establishment Committee, which leads on workforce, organisational structure, corporate services, and diversity and inclusion.