The City of London is now adjusting to a new normal of fewer cars and lorries and certainly a lot less foot traffic. The air is clearer and the birdsong rings out clearly; clashing only with the occasional siren and church bells. However the City is on board and not at sea, and businesses are actively working from home – just not in their usual workplaces.
Whilst the City Corporation works hard to keep services operating, I notice a bit more rubbish on the streets and a creeping (small) amount of graffiti. I am torn between reporting a low priority matter and wanting the City to look its best when everyone (or at least a few people) start to come back to work here. The road works on Cheapside and at Bank Junction are still there. It has not been possible within the social distancing rules for them to be continued and completed at this time. They will be familiar sites when you return.
Pan London response The City of London Corporation with the 32 London Boroughs have long made preparations for the impacts of a pandemic. Councils across the country are required under the Civil Contingencies Act (2004) to make plans for maintaining vital services during “civil emergencies” and, in the words of 2018 government good practice guidance, to “protect, advise and provide humanitarian assistance” to residents and “play a major role in community leadership and recovery, going beyond the usual hours of work”.
When any emergency situation or major “disruptive incident” arises affecting London as a whole, a Strategic Co-ordination Group (SCG) is formed as a decision-making body with the job of co-ordinating and mobilising the efforts of all the many organisations involved. This SCG is being led by the City’s Town Clerk and Chief Executive, John Barradell, working with other London Borough Chief Executives and the Mayor of London’s office. Working with a traditional gold, silver and bronze command structure across London, they co-ordinate thinking and actions and mitigate problems. This includes liaison with all the blue light services and bringing together the third sector of charities and faith groups in order to meet all the needs. If an area is identified as being critical, as food shortages amongst the most vulnerable and at food banks, then the cross London co-ordination can bring help where it is most urgently needed.
The Civic Team The City Corporation have decided that the extraordinary times mean thinking out of the box and that the best way to keep much needed continuity in our leadership is to keep the current Lord Mayor, Alderman William Russell, and Sheriffs Alderman Michael Mainelli and Chris Hayward in post for another year. Amongst other implications this gets over the need for the June Common Hall election of Sheriffs which would have been difficult in the current lockdown. The Chief Commoner changes post in April and that election took place last September. This seemed to be an easy changeover and so the City has thanked Deputy Tom Hoffman for his year and the new Chief Commoner from April 23rd is Deputy Brian Mooney. Brian represents Queenhithe Ward. He is a prize-winning journalist and author, and worked for Reuters for 30 years in more than 50 countries. He has worked in international PR and has published six books.
A new Recorder of the City of London
The senior judge at the Old Bailey is the Recorder of London. The previous Recorder, HHJ Nicholas Hilliard QC was promoted to the High Court Bench at the end of 2019 and a new Recorder has been appointed by the Court of Aldermen and endorsed by HM Courts and Tribunal Service. He is HHJ Mark Lucraft QC. He is currently the Chief Coroner, based at the Old Bailey. He will take on some of the responsibilities of leadership at the Old Bailey with immediate effect. However, in the light of pressures on the coronial system as a result of the current pandemic, Judge Lucraft QC will remain in post as the Chief Coroner. He has agreed to do so over the coming months and this dual role will be kept under review. He will be busy!
Museum of London to start Covid-19 collection The Museum of London has appealed to the public to help it build up a Covid-19 collection – made up of objects and first-hand experiences to reflect Londoners’ lives during the outbreak. These will be vital as London seeks to understand what has changed and what is the same and how it compares to previous outbreaks and disasters that have hit the City. There are three parts to the collection to focus on: how the physical spaces in the city have been transformed, while the social and working lives of many have moved digital; the effects on key and home workers; and how children and young people are reacting to and coping with the changes now
that many schools are closed. Objects that may find their way into the collection can be both physical and digital, and donations will be welcomed from any London resident via social media or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It seems a good time for us all to marshal our thoughts around the Covid-19 crisis and consider what we want to collect, what get rid of (sustainably) and how things will be different hereafter. A challenge for us individually and collectively as for certain things will not be the same. Our task is to make them better.