Exactly a year ago I had the honour to be elected as one of the three Councillors representing the Ward of Cheap. Earlier this week the Ward’s annual meeting – called ‘Wardmote’ or meeting of citizens – took place in the beautiful surroundings of the Goldsmiths’ Hall. Over 60 local City workers and residents joined to receive a report from and quiz the Alderman and Common Councilmen. There were questions about rough sleeping, schools, plans for a new concert hall, air quality, idling of cars and safer cycling.
The Ward meeting gave me an opportunity to put on record my thanks to Alderman Jeffrey, The Lord Moutevans, and fellow Common Councilmen Deputy Alastair Moss and Nick Bensted-Smith JP for their advice and support during my first year as Councillor.
Last year I stood for election because I believed I could add a fresh perspective. I promised that I would get stuck in, and work with the team to reach out residents, City workers and businesses in different ways, through different channels.
And this is exactly what we have done. As a team we have worked together and provided you with regular updates and invitations to local events through newsletters, emails, Twitter, websites and our annual report.
Jeffrey, Alastair, Nick and I all have different backgrounds and hopefully we have been able to use this to stand up for everyone who works, lives and does business in the Ward and promote the City at home and abroad.
During year I have focused my work as Common Councilman on four main areas:
- Air quality and a clean environment
- Culture and education
- Diversity and social mobility
Air quality and a clean environment – As a member the Port Health and Environmental Services Committee I have supported initiatives to increase charging points for electric vehicles and reduce the usage of plastics in the City.
Policing – The City of London is unique as we have our own dedicated police force. As a former Special Constable I was fortunate to be appointed on two sub-Committees working with Nick – who serves on the main Committee – to scrutinise the force. One policing area, which I have championed, is the importance of action to improve safety for cyclists and pedestrians on our streets – highlighting the behaviour of some cyclists around Cheapside in particular.
Culture and education – The City of London is best known as a global centre for financial and professional services – and rightly so. But there is so much more to the City. The City for example has a long tradition of supporting education. In addition, many Livery Companies actively support a wide range of schools and apprenticeships.
As a City Councillor I am a Governor for The City Academy in Hackney – one of the schools in the country recognised for achieving the best progression of young people. This shows how the City can make a real difference to London. My next priority is to ensure we link our City schools more closely to the businesses in our Ward. Recently I also joined the City of London School for Girls as Governor and as a member of the Culture, Heritage and Libraries Committee I support our investment in the Cultural Mile and the City’s strategy to attract more visitors.
Diversity and social mobility – The buzz, cultural offer and diversity is what makes London great. People and talent are now more than ever important to businesses. My first job in the UK was for the Equal Opportunities Commission. I am now using this experience and passion for equality to promote diversity and social mobility in the City.
For example by ensuring that the City raises the Pride Flag at Guildhall in July, to speaking at the LGBT network of one of our Ward businesses, Investec. Or by raising questions about how the City is protecting the rights of EU citizens through Brexit. As 18% of City workers come from the EU. And indeed 40% come from outside the UK.