The New Year always allows some review and planning and 2023 gives me the chance to determine my future ambition in the City of London.
My ambition is to create a Responsible City and one that is open to all the world. This would encompass:
• green finance (a Just Transition) and setting proper ESG benchmarks and taxonomy as well as promoting climate action strategies in the built environment with a focus on property matters;
• continuing engagement with the widest communities that cross the City including employees, stakeholders, shareholders and customers of our businesses (building on social mobility and financial inclusion);
• tackling fraud and anti-money laundering in order to show that the City addresses issues that besmirch our reputation;
• promotion of the work of the Judiciary and the Rule of Law; and
the philanthropic work of businesses in stewarding investments and dispersing funding by grants and social impact investment with proper monitoring as well as more traditional social responsibility.
Following these points this month I have spoken at two events around the ESG and Green Agenda. On 12th January I spoke at the World Traders’ Livery event looking at the challenges of ESG for today in a really practical way. A recent survey by Sensu Insight reported how public trust in business was waning and so claims are met with objections as to greenwashing or greenhushing. A 2 hour debate ensued led by Dr. Amina Aitsi-Selmi and Nick Mayhew. A further event hosted by CISI and the Financial Services Group of Livery Companies looked at the outcomes of COP27. A wide range of opinions was voiced with much concern but also buoyant optimism that more can and will be done.
The World Economic Forum took place in Davos and sadly I did not attend in person, but was able to tune into a series of meetings online and so used much less carbon. I was very impressed with one initiative that speaks to my long held belief that we need to harness the philanthropic engagement with the public and private forces to do good. This new initiative took the name of GAEA and was launched at Davos by the WEF. Using the initials of the word meaning Earth or Mother Earth - Giving to Amplify Earth Action – GAEA’s programme will leverage philanthropic capital to help generate the $3 trillion needed each year from public and private sources to tackle climate change and nature loss. It is ground-breaking and supported by more than 45 major philanthropic, public and private sector partners.
Property is one of the largest emitters of carbon dioxide in the City of London and the City Corporation’s Climate Action Strategy is working to reduce them. Heritage Buildings have their own complications and there are 600 Listed Buildings in the City alone. In creating a framework for listed and heritage buildings the Corporation called a meeting of professionals to discuss the issues. Our group including architects, property owners and solicitors saw the problems and found some solutions or preferred outcomes. The final guidance will be issued in due course. which I will share with you.
2023 means you may hear a lot from me about Dick Whittington. This is the 600th anniversary of his death. He lived in my Ward of Dowgate and was buried in the Church at St Michael Paternoster Royal, although the Church has burnt down, been bombed and rebuilt twice since 1423. His grave is no longer marked but he does have a Blue Plaque. Dowgate Ward is planning a commemoration. However what is important to mark is his rise to riches in the City as a merchant in cloth (Mercer), his civic service as (Lord) Mayor of London and his philanthropic generosity to the City during his life and in his will. An example to us all. A display of his will and other objects is now at the Heritage Gallery in Guildhall.
I will be taking part in the Lady Mayoress’s Sleep Out for the second year. Pitching a sleeping bag in Guildhall Yard on 16th March. I shall be pleased of any sponsorship on my Just Giving page for the Lord Mayor’s Appeal and Pret Foundation helping homeless and rough sleepers in the Capital. https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/alison-gowman Please support me.
Energy prices and sourcing are key issues for the World today as we can see played out in our own UK economy. Driven by the “polycrisis” of Ukraine and security, post pandemic, cost of living and (failed) policies there is a danger of the transition to renewables and decarbonisation being derailed. I believe that the current situation should drive us to continue our pledges to net zero and by efficiencies and innovation keep our commitment and achieve our carbon goals. So it is good to see energy take a prominent position at the World Economic Forum 2023. A new report Securing the energy transition explores this and concludes that action in a determined way through investing in the supply, pivoting to clean solutions and collaborating across borders this can be achieved. Incentives are required especially to help those most in need. The complexities are not to be under estimated but the parties at Davos should ensure all relevant sectors industries and nations are around the table to take the right action.
Securing the Energy Transition | World Economic Forum (weforum.org)
What have the Members of Dowgate Ward been up to in 2022? At the end of the calendar year it is worth reflecting on the work in Dowgate – myself as Alderman and my Deputy Henry, Pollard, and Mark Wheatley CC.
Whilst I was fully involved in my role as Sheriff until the end of September 2022, I still made sure I kept up to speed on local matters.
Individual issues given priority
The start of the year saw the tail end of work helping businesses recover from the pandemic with grants for SMEs. The Members advertised this in the Ward and it was taken up by a few of our businesses. As Members there are usually quite a few enquiries on administrative matters and sometimes failures to communicate with the City Corporation or its close organisations. For example:
- a rates dispute nearly came to a court hearing but our intervention saved the day. This was partly exacerbated by people not being physically in the office and not answering phones, a plight we can all identify with in our own lives all too often.
-concerns were also raised by businesses about the cleanliness of the streets, in one case amounting the anti-social behaviour where the Cleansing Department quickly responded.
-cyclists reported that they felt unsafe on Southwark Bridge whilst the works were ongoing and received some assurances on the timescales.
-a business was also concerned about the public seating in Laurence Pountney Hill having become loose and strenuous efforts by Mark resulted in them being refixed to the paved area.
Planning issues and lighting
A planning application was submitted by Ocean House in Cousin Lane to create a new lighting scheme on their development. On looking at this, the amount of light seemed to both be too bright and to clash with the lighting scheme called Illuminated River around the Cannon Street Rail bridge. I objected to this and during the course of the year the plans were changed and finally approved with less obvious intrusion on the night scene. Excessive lighting can impact on the street scene adversely and following a separate complaint about the street lighting I ensured that the specific street lighting was shielded from the windows where the impact was felt most.
Elections for Common Council
March 24th was the date of the Common Council elections. The two existing members were nominated alongside Flora Hamilton who works in the Ward at the CBI. The contest ensured a full poll of voters and concluded in the two existing members being re-elected. Their term is 3 years until March 2025.
We have often boasted that Dowgate is the greenest Ward as it had at one time the largest area of green rooves in the City. 2022 saw two new trees planted. One by the Lord Mayor in Whittington Gardens and the other by the modern Livery Companies on the Riverside Walk. Both are part of the Queen’s Canopy for the Platinum Jubilee. Dowgate was also visited by the Lord Mayor for the lighting of the Jubilee Beacon on June 2nd. Nomura kindly allowed their wonderful rooftop to be the location of the only City beacon lit to celebrate the Jubilee.
One of our occupiers is Historic England who care for the historic environment and manage and determine listed building matters. I was delighted to spend an afternoon with them in the Ward considering the array of properties that need careful curation. I was also pleased that I could reconnect them to the City’s officers in the planning department and built environment in order to ensure that all lines of communication are open.
Business Forum meeting
The voters in the Ward were invited to a Ward business forum in the Old Bailey in September whilst I was still resident as Sheriff. It was a great turn out and the Common Serjeant made an excellent speech about the work of the Old Bailey and the role of the City Corporation in the Justice system.
St Michael Paternoster Royal
A major concern for some of the Liveries and residents was the intended future use of the St Michael Paternoster Royal – the only Church in the Ward. It was occupied by the Missions to Seafarers for many years with the sanctuary used for occasional services and meetings. It is now vacant. I was approached about the plan by Premier Christion Radio to take a lease of the premises and to locate the radio station in the offices. That has been a matter for discussion for some time now and is still under negotiation. Premier will need to submit a planning application for the change of use and works but that has not yet been submitted. Liveries were concerned about the lack of access to the Church for services and the Church of England think that this will be possible as the sanctuary will remain intact. The elected members are keeping a close eye on this as the use of the Church has been a valuable part of Livery life.
2022 marked the sad death of our Queen of 70 years. I was pleased to be sent a video of the only reported visit of the Queen to the Ward when in February 1992 she visited Dowgate Ward to open the new LIFFE exchange in Cannonbridge House. The video shows its age in many ways and not least that the LIFFE market no longer exists! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nJAgJV8spFk
The Dowgate Team are all active members of the Corporation’s committees. Henry chairs the Markets Committee and Mark the Barbican Residential Committee. I chair the Magistracy and Livery subcommittee that liaises between the City and the Livery Companies as well as the judicial links.
The Members are all very willing to take up matters raised in the Ward.
It was good to participate again on behalf of the City of London Corporation in the annual meeting for Chile in London. Despite the snow and train disruption the attendance and engagement was high. I led the session on the Low Carbon Economy with a panel consisting of Maxim Vydrine, who co-heads Emerging Markets Corporate and High Yield team at Amundi, Lucas Aranguren, Global Head of ESG & SustainableTech - Santander Corporate & Investment Banking and Patricio Contesse Fica, Vice Chairman of SQM.
I was happy to speak about the leadership role that the UK had taken bolstered by the Presidency of COP26 in Glasgow. The UK leads the league tables for signatories to the Net Zero Banking Alliance, part of the UN Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEPFI). More UK financial services firms have science-based net zero strategies than those in other markets. Businesses seeking funding for sustainability projects can find investors with the appetite and expertise to invest in green in the UK. In other words, green ESG and low carbon investing is growing so that it is becoming the norm rather than the exception. Some of this is voluntary, driven by investor and stakeholder demands and some is regulatory governed both by the Government and Financial Conduct Authority. The UK Government has been driving this agenda by:
• Committing to the UK being the world’s first net zero aligned financial centre,
• Making it mandatory for firms across the economy to disclose their climate-related risks and opportunities – the first G20 country to do so. New Companies Act requirements came into force from April 2022, making climate-related disclosures mandatory for large UK-registered companies, including private companies. There are plans to make it mandatory for financial firms to publish transition plans. A Transition Plan Taskforce has been established to set the gold standard in this area,
• Delivering on its green finance roadmap,
• Continuing working with the UK industry and regulators to implement the recommendations of the Asset Management Taskforce’s stewardship report which seek to enhance and embed stewardship across the investment chain. This supports the world-leading stewardship standards set out in the Financial Reporting Council’s UK Stewardship Code 2020. In March 2022 the Code had 199 signatories including asset managers with £33tn in global assets under management.
• Promoting global consistency and comparability in sustainability reporting, enhanced climate-related financial disclosures and improved transparency in ESG. This will not only make the transition easier and more cost-effective for businesses but will also help drive the change needed to achieve net zero,
• Continuing to develop the UK’s green taxonomy, which sets out the thresholds at which specific economic activities count as environmentally sustainable and
• Continuing to invest and grow voluntary carbon markets. The UK Voluntary Carbon Markets Forum was established in April 2021.
In response it was good to hear about the early start that Chile made in issuing green Sovereign Bonds, including in 2022 a sustainability linked bond. The capital markets are moving fast to encompass green and ESG principles. Amundi has committed to a net zero methodology that makes it a leading asset manager in this area. Whilst the Chilean Association of Investment Fund Managers calculated that there is about $6 billion under ESG principles this is still growing fast. Investments in green bonds are growing faster than those not so branded.
Lucas Aranguren of Santander spoke of the strides being made to transition to low energy. Chile is leading in the production of green hydrogen and batteries as well as e-mobility, These are needed to help the world’s change of dependence on fossil fuels. However the transition is not easy and there often needs to be a synchronicity of infrastructure to make it all work efficiently. SQM spoke about how it is working with the communities and landscapes in which it is placed and that its use of water and natural resources is fast reducing due to technology and proper engagement. They have created a holistic approach so that they are not just looking at low carbon but the widest of remits around social issues and governance – their Board Chair is the lead and in direct touch with the local indigenous communities.
The exploration of ideas with an engaged audience added to the benefit of the day and the continuing good relationship between the UK and Chile.
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Dowgate Ward is unique in the City of London as it houses the only Fire Station that serves the City of London and beyond. Based on Upper Thames Street in my Ward, it is not only an active fire station but also the home to the London Fire Brigade Fire Investigation Unit. This means that there is present at any one time a Mercedes Benz Atego 1327 Dual Pump Ladder (DPL), 5 Ford Transit Custom L2 Fire Investigation Unit vans and one customised van for the Fire Investigation Dog Unit. The Dog Unit is very popular with visitors but they are working dogs. They are specially trained to identify a variety of ignitable substances which makes them invaluable in any criminal investigation to determine whether a fire has been started deliberately. The speed at which they can sniff out these substances has reduced the time required to investigate the scene of a fire. The dogs are used after the fire has died down but do wear slippers to prevent them being inadvertently hurt by the "under-paws" aftermath of a fire as they review scene.
With a designation of A28 you will see the name of Dowgate on the side of the pump when it is out and about across London. The Borough Commander is James Chapman who has been based at Dowgate for a few years now and knows the City well. Newly promoted this year is the Station Commander Chloe Van Dop. They are both passionate about serving the City and engaging with the businesses and residents here. The London Fire Brigade are plugged into all the work of the City and are partners in the Safer City Partnership as well as the combined work of the City around the many dangerous incidents on the City bridges. Alongside the Police they will respond to any 999 call. Indeed they had just returned from an incident of an injury in a nearby business as I arrived. They had been able to attend on foot and provide medical emergency assistance.
I was pleased to see an electric charging point on the forecourt of the Station. Not everything is yet electric but there are plans to move towards an all-electric fleet. An announcement was made in June 2022 about this plan. As with all heavy goods vehicles the logistics are more complicated especially as the usage of energy in pumping water at high volume and for long periods is very intensive. https://www.london-fire.gov.uk/news/2022-news/june/brigade-further-electrifies-efforts-to-decarbonise-fleet-and-support-london-s-clean-air-goals/
The Station had been visited by the City’s MP, Nickie Aiken, earlier in the year and is planning further open days for local businesses and visitors.
Traditionally November is a busy month in the City year as it includes the change of Lord Mayor and seemingly lots of other Masters being installed and business conferences taking place.
A consistent strand of my work is around philanthropy – both promoting good practice and impact and encouraging more giving. This month has seen two reports and a conference on that topic, all of which I have participated in. I consider that philanthropy is a force for good and that in working with funds alongside business and local or national government significant impact can be made on communities and need. The first event was the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Philanthropy and Social Investment at which the MP Co-Chairs Rushanara Ali and Danny Kruger spoke and launched a new report, Unleashing the Potential of Philanthropy and Social Investment. https://www.philanthropy-impact.org/sites/default/files/user-uploads/appg-report-final_02_11_22.pdf The report proposes policy changes to embed the power of giving and unleash the potential of the £100 billion in the sector. A sister report launched by the Individual Impact Investing Commission analysed the current ecosystem for giving and the barriers persisting and impact of creating a more supportive environment. The UK is 4th in the league table of donors internationally and if we individually gave the same percentage per person as, say, New Zealand then our total giving would increase per annum by £5 billion. https://www.beaconcollaborative.org.uk/enabling-an-ecosystem-that-supports-increased-impact-investing-by-those-with-private-wealth/ The last day of the month sees an important conference in Guildhall by The Beacon Collaborative (where I am a trustee) and will explore the role that philanthropy can play in today’s society, with important discussions to feed back to add to the reports already making waves across the sector. There is a real momentum in this movement.
Another key concern for me is the light pollution that spills across the City and is an affront as many are struggling to heat and light their homes whilst businesses seem to be profligate in the light spillage that also harms the flora and fauna of our biodiversity ecosystem. The view from my flat at 5.45am shows how much is lit up and not being used. I have raised the point with the Corporation and am pleased that a new planning policy for new buildings and a voluntary charter for existing buildings is about to go out for consultation. This aligns with my continuing work on climate and environmental issues. However, I did enjoy helping turn on the Christmas Lights at Leadenhall Market which are festive and fun...and temporary!
These past few weeks have also seen me visiting the first net zero carbon Church in the City and the Tideway Super Sewer – see the earlier blogs on these topics. The Livery Climate Action Group is holding a seminar on Responsible Offsetting on 29th November, and we have two great speakers and over 125 people signed up to listen. The Livery engagement is growing in numbers and in depth of engagement with real energy being given to make a difference in our carbon footprint.
I was pleased to visit the new Museum of London site in Smithfield as a Governor of the Museum and see the cavernous depths ready to be refurbished and used for this amazing new Museum space. November also saw the planning consent granted for the new Museum https://news.cityoflondon.gov.uk/plans-approved-to-create-new-museum-for-london-and-regenerate-smithfield/. The works are continuing. Separately to the use by the Museum of the space that has not largely be used as a market for over 20 years, the City Corporation is also planning to move Smithfield and Billingsgate wholesale markets to a new site and bespoke building in Barking. As the Markets are run under Royal Charter a Private Bill needs to be passed by Parliament to authorise the move and that Bill must be deposited by 28th November. The process is quite involved but the plans are now ready to be pressed forward.
Every Alderman is proud of his or her own Ward and my Ward of Dowgate enjoys a close relationship with Vintry Ward in that we have a joint Vintry and Dowgate Wards Club. Our Civic Lunch on 31st October in Vintners’ Hall was a great event with the Lord Mayor in attendance. The Club is well supported by the local businesses such as Nomura, CCLA and the CBI as well as the Livery Companies in the Ward with my Ward Beadle John Cash acting as Toastmaster.
The City’s formal events were exceptionally busy with the Lord Mayor’s Show and associated events. The Lord Mayor’s Banquet follows on 28th November, and I am sure that Nick Lyons will make everyone welcome and will set out his challenging programme for the year ahead. He has already hosted a State Banquet for the President of South Africa and the City showed how adept it is at making a very complicated and high-profile event look effortless. I stood in for the Lord Mayor at the Institute of Export and International Trade graduation ceremony in the Mansion House. As I said in my speech international trade is central to what the City Corporation does and so it was fitting to hold the ceremony in the Mansion House that was built on the trade of centuries past. That continues today in all we seek to do.
I have, like many Londoners, been tracking the plans to build a super sewer to update the Bazalgette Victorian sewage system and create a resilient system for the future of this great capital City. Thames Tideway working with Thames Water and numerous local authorities, including the City of London, and the PLA have completed the actual tunnelling and there is a lot to shout about as we await the final completion and opening in 2025. The project is to build 25 kilometres of tunnelling to intercept, store and transfer sewage waste away from the regular dumping that happens direct into the River Thames.
The tunnel runs from Acton to Beckton and about the mid-point is Blackfriars in the City of London. I was invited to visit the site and took colleague, Juna Margariti, with me from the Livery Climate Action Group. The site is largely behind hoardings, but elements are visible from the road, Blackfriars Bridge and the River. Roger Bailey, the Chief Technical Officer, took us around with his colleagues. What is special about Blackfriars is that it is at the confluence of the Rivers Fleet and Thames and is creating a new element of the Embankment that will provide public realm and green open space for the use of all visitors.
The tunnel is an engineering feat of that there is no doubt. Roger’s explanations of the issues to be overcome at Blackfriars were impressive. Not least, the decision to float an element of the superstructure into place and thus avoid the risk of cracking two major gas mains - a true feat of ingenuity.
I was most impressed with the sustainability credentials of the project and annex their Sustainability Report 2022. https://www.tideway.london/media/5689/tideway-sustainability-report-2022.pdf Aligning the project to the Sustainable Development Goals and measuring the impact in terms of carbon, health and safety, people and economy as well as community investment shows commitment. This project was funded by a sustainable finance framework and followed the International Capital Markets Association Green Bond Principles. The first green bond was issued in 2017 with a further seven following. The London Stock Exchange has moved the bond series to the LSEG Green Segment, confirming that they are accepted as part of the Sustainable Bond Market.
As we see the need to improve our infrastructure in order to meet the pledge to net zero and the need to bolster our economy through green and clean growth , this project is an example on our doorstep of just what can be done. At the same time the views from the new public realm will be exceptional atop the new Bazalgette Embankment.
I was intrigued to learn that major works at City of London Church, St Andrew by the Wardrobe, have resulted in this Church becoming the first carbon neutral Church in the City and probably one of the first Grade 1 Listed Churches in the country. Quite enterprising for one of the City Churches dating back to the middle ages, destroyed in the Great Fire and rebuilt by Sir Christopher Wren and again blitzed in the Second World War and rebuilt. It was exceptionally interesting for the Livery Climate Action Group Home - Livery Climate Action Group (liverycag.org.uk)
members to visit and explore the Church with Archdeacon Father Luke Miller and Bob Wilson ( the mastermind of the plans). Like many Churches it was in need of a new heating system and old standalone heaters (ready to be recycled) spoke of a temporary fix since 2015 - as well as lots of jumpers. The work included rewiring, new lighting and a new heating system that was installed with what looks like seamless joinery and plasterwork. Phase 2 will see the project finished, equal access, redecoration and some further improvements.
The Church was previously heated with under floor heating which had broken down and was not working. There was no gas supply to the premises and ancient burials and lack of physical space around the building meant it was not possible to consider ground source heat pumps. Solar panels would not provide sufficient power for such a large space. The solution was to be air source heat pumps with additional electric radiators in the larger areas of the Church itself. Seven air source heat pumps have been installed in the roof space. Prone to vibrate, they need to be affixed to a solid structure but clearly as a listed building this must not cause damage, nor noise and interference for any neighbours. There is a large amount of equipment to attenuate the sound - so everything is possible. There is now much more insulation in the roof but the area is not a sealed box as the air is drawn in from one side of the Church passes through the pumps and is expelled on the other side. An up to 15 degree differential in the temperature of the air generates the energy to heat the building. The back up electric radiators work as needed and are fed off the green tariffs from Parish Buying to be efficient financially as well.
It is these air source heat pumps based in the roof space that are remarkable - but are good examples of what we all need to do and this project has shown that you can! As a result of these works St Andrew by the Wardrobe faces a much more positive future with new groups lined up to occupy and utilise the spaces with ease and a net zero carbon footprint. The Church of England (a leader in tackling climate issues around investments) have committed to net zero carbon by 2030. There are lots of resources on their website and I am sure that many other Churches in the City and beyond are working on this right now. See St Andrew’s from 3:54 on the films on the C/E Environment page Church of England Environment Programme | The Church of England and there is another film about the project here.
One of the most frequent questions that I was asked in my last few weeks as Sheriff is what happens next?
Whilst I am not intending to continue my monthly newsletter sent out via MailChimp, I thought it would be informative to answer that oft asked question and unpick the work of an Alderman or this Alderman.
My immediate plan, post Shrievalty, was to have a good two-week holiday in Italy- where the sun shone, and I had a very relaxing time ( no photos).
The diary, however, did not stop and in the last couple of weeks I have been able to engage with the many organisations and interests that I hold dear.
The work of the Livery Climate Action Group https://liverycag.org.uk/ that I lead has been going for just one year since its launch in October 2021. The core group met to have a full review of its work to date and consider strategy for the year to come. We now stand with 54 Livery Company members and another 25 in the pipeline and at various stages of commitment. Where do we go next? The meeting was stimulated by an opening talk from Alderman Professor Michael Mainelli who has great expertise in climate and scientific issues and solutions. He set us a challenge! The outcomes were many, but we want to widen our reach across the Livery and so will be engaging further here and we need to recruit a few more volunteers to help in communicating and guidance. We will be holding an in-person conference in July 2023,
Earlier in the day the LCAG visited the first net zero carbon Church in the City – St Andrew by the Wardrobe. See my LinkedIn piece on this.
Board and committee meetings are a consistent part of my life and one of the most invigorating and challenging that I sit on is the Museum of London Board where I also Chair the Audit and Risk Committee. The Board met on 19th October and tackled an exciting array of topics including the need to close the galleries at London Wall prior to the move to West Smithfield together with issues of fundraising and presentations on branding and collections. We welcomed four new members of the Board who all added to the views and understanding around the table. Don’t miss a visit to the site before 4th December. https://www.museumoflondon.org.uk/museum-london/whats-on/last-chance-visit-us?series=Last%20Chance%20to%20See
The Mansion House has hosted two great lectures that I was able to attend. The first in honour of the late Sir Roger Gifford and given by Mark Carney UN Special Envoy for Climate Action and Finance. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9sGF15Pleog
The second by the Chief of the Defence Staff Sir Tony Radakin with the transcript here. https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/chief-of-the-defence-staff-lord-mayor-of-london-defence-security-lecture
Both underline the convening power and connections that the Lord Mayor and City Corporation have in creating events that are headed by the leaders in their fields and with an audience that is equally distinguished. Following on the topic of defence I was pleased to take part in a roundtable with the IBDE chaired by Sir Roger Carr and attended by many Ambassadors and business leaders. As the Dutch Ambassador stated about the event that it was a “working session on political diplomatic and economic implications of Russian military aggression against Ukraine.” A very enlightening discussion.
With my road safety interests and expertise I attended the National Courier Awards at the IOD. I was delighted to congratulate so many of the logistics and delivery industry who were recognised by their peers for exceptional work - be it in transformational leadership; individual couriers or the special prize this year called EIIR Merit that recognised work around the late Queen's funeral and mourning period. The City of London Police were given an exceptional award for their engagement and communications with the business community that allowed deliveries to continue and provided a very vital service. I was honoured to present this to City officer, Superintendent Patrick Holdaway from the National Business Crime Centre. https://instituteofcouriers.com/news/general-news/item/2206-national-courier-awards-2022
Connected to issues of road safety and ease of travel, I chair the City Corporation’s Active City Network. A group of businesses interested in active travel that is safe and efficient for their businesses and staff. We met on 20th October and discussed the new plans for the City’s Transport Strategy. We will be having a focussed feedback session to critique the proposals and give vital feedback to the City’s officers in their planning. https://www.activecitynetwork.com/. The City regularly consults on these matters that are critical to the ease of access across the City. The current consultation is about pedestrian priority streets and you can access it here. https://www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/services/streets/pedestrian-priority-programme
November is on the horizon is dominated by the Lord Mayor’s Show. The new Lord Mayor will be Alderman Nicholas Lyons who served with me as Sheriff at the Old Bailey. Part of the process involves obtaining the approval of the Monarch and this is given in a wonderful ceremony at the House of Lords in the Robing Room. The approval is given by the Lord Chancellor on behalf of the King. The Lord Chancellor at the time was Brandon Lewis. The City will be well governed for another year.
A visit to Sheffield for the Cutlers’ Forfeit Feast hosted by the Master Cutler of Hallamshire is a highlight of the year for the Lord Mayor and the Sheriffs. It might sound like a traditional Livery event – which is it – but the Master Cutler made it very relevant this year by providing an additional briefing and visit about the modern Sheffield economy.
Made in Sheffield is such a familiar phrase, seen mostly on cutlery and flatware, that it is overlooked as to the implications that the term bears. The manufacturing might of Sheffield has driven a trade around items with a cutting edge for many centuries, with the Company of Cutlers of Hallamshire being established in 1624. The location of the City with a source of water power, stone for grinding wheels and iron ore – as well as engaging entrepreneurship meant that the businesses grew in a cluster around the City. Innovation such as the invention of the Bessemer Converter meant that the City was synonymous with steel throughout the world. The words Made in Sheffield were seen to be key to the quality mark and a Sheffield Defence Committee was set up in the 1900s to protect the name. The term is still boldly defended as a registered trademark and with a licencing arrangement that allows and regulates the use of the phrase. You can rely on it if it is Made in Sheffield.
Against this background the Sheriffs met a great group of businesses for lunch and a conversation around the issues of today. The businesses included many that are still closely connected to steel, knives and allied trades. Other businesses had a more tech focused angle with engagement in AI and education, including the energetic University of Sheffield. Professional firms also attended as they are an important part of the business ecosystem alongside people from the heritage sector and civil society.
Some of the themes aired were common across the businesses and have echoes throughout the nation – the cost of energy going up (in one case by 450%) and some of these are very intensive energy users. Supply chain issues were very urgent. Some of the businesses were setting up new buildings and expanding – key here is staffing and training as well as the good use of apprenticeships. A recruitment business reminded us of the number of job vacancies that held back such expansion as well as the right kind of education and guidance. Businesses were looking to expand internationally and efforts collectively to engage were appreciated. Climate and ESG issues were clearly a consideration with businesses ensuring that there is no waste in their processes and many were directly involved in this area via electric vehicles and similar products.
In the afternoon we visited ITM Power who make electrolysers for green hydrogen and showed us around an expanding business park. The reach of their distribution and partnerships showed how important the use of green hydrogen will be for the future of energy.
It was clear that Sheffield has a vibrant and innovative business and manufacturing community. We were privileged to meet them and share some thoughts and understand so much more about the economic drivers and industry needs. Thank you to Master Cutler, James Tear.