This month I’ve worked hard with other City Councillors to progress some important issues to ensure the City Corporation remains relevant in the 21st Century. As local representative for the Ward of Cheap I was able to support two important initiatives. One symbolic – allowing applicants for ancient privilege to be admitted to the Freedom of the City to choose which parent(s) they mention on application form, both their father and mother, one parent or same sex parents. Another more practical – initiating a strategy to make the City free of single use plastics.

A truly modern Freedom of the City

Being admitted to the Freedom of the City of London is one of the oldest surviving traditional ceremonies still in existence today, is believed to have been first presented in 1237.

From the Middle Ages and the Victorian era, the Freedom was the right to trade, enabling members of a Guild or Livery to carry out their trade or craft in the Square Mile.

Today most of the practical reasons for obtaining the Freedom of the City have disappeared. It is still a requirement to stand for election as Common Councilman and remains as a unique part of London’s history to which many people who have lived or worked in the City have been proud to be admitted.

To apply you were always asked to provide details of your father… until now! I was fortunate to be able to support an initiative from fellow City Councillor for Tower Ward, Anne Fairweather, to get this changed allowing applicants to put names of either parent down, and same sex parents. A symbolic change, but an important one promoting diversity and equality as key theme in the City. With the recent disgusting reports of the ‘sleaze ball’ hosted by the so-called Presidents Club, shows that we have to continue to raise our voices to push for change.

Anne Fairweather CC speaking at the Court of Common Council

A clean City – Cutting plastic consumption in the Square Mile

Earlier this month the City Corporation unveiled a first look at its ambitious plans to cut plastic consumption across the Square Mile in 2018.

More drinking water fountains and a scheme to have City bars pledge to reduce their single-use plastic items like straws and bottles were among proposals set out in the Plastic Free City report tabled at one of the Committee’s I serve on – the Port Health and Environmental Services Committee.

The City remains one of the best performing councils in London for recycling, outperforming neighbours Westminster (17.3%), Hackney and Camden (both 24.8%), and Tower Hamlets (27.4%).

But the City still comes in a full 13 percentage points behind top performer Bexley, which recycles 52% of its household waste, and policy chief Catherine McGuinness therefore concluded at our full Council meeting that we should be doing more to lead by example.

The Committee also discussed the need to cut single use coffee cups in the City. Following a very successful scheme last year – the City’s Square Mile challenge – we’ll be looking at other options to make a step change. But nothing stops any of us to get a reusable cup and take a small step to promote a big change! Looking for ideas the Independent helpfully tested a few cups – click article here.

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