Everything is now virtual
No one will have missed the fact that where we cannot meet together face to face, it is happening online. For families and friends that is just about learning a new skill and downloading the App ( and dressing neatly from the waist up). For the City of London Corporation this was a legal impossibility. Like all local authorities it was not allowed for meetings to take place online. For voting and a quorum to count then you had to be physically present in the room. The Coronavirus Act changed this overnight so that local authority meetings and the City Corporation committees can operate remotely. The pattern of such meetings started a couple of weeks ago. As part of most meetings are open to the public then this element had to be made possible and the public element of all committees are live streamed on YouTube. The details of the meetings and the public papers are on the City’s website and the link is here, in case you want to tune in. http://democracy.cityoflondon.gov.uk/mgCalendarMonthView.aspx?GL=1&bcr=1
First virtual Court of Aldermen
Whilst not strictly a local authority meeting, the Court of Aldermen also met in a virtual way on May 12th. This was an auspicious day as it was the International Day of the Nurse in the Year of the Nurse. What a year the nurses and other care workers are having. What you might recall from my book is that one of the roles of the Court of Aldermen is to regulate Livery Companies and to approve new ones. The process involves the organisation being recognised as a Guild, then as a Company without Livery and then as a Livery Company. The Guild of Nurses formed only 4 years ago were ready to move forward to become a Company without Livery. What better date for this to be authorised than the nursing anniversary to beat all – Florence Nightingale’s 200th birthday. The members of the new Company were able to watch live on YouTube.
Been to your Library recently?
The City Corporation’s library service is now online and e-books are providing a enjoyable way to beat the lockdown. The City of London revealed that the top reads downloaded by bookworms include the memoir by former US First Lady, Michelle Obama, Becoming and the wonderful Neapolitan saga of love, betrayal and friendship by Elena Ferrante, My Brilliant Friend.
Other readers are busy brushing up their languages as well, especially French, German, English, Latin American Spanish, and Italian. Whose knows when they will be able to travel to use these linguistic skills?
There is a music library as well and the top tracks streamed are Artie Shaw, Concerto for clarinet, Saint Saens, Bassoon Sonata in G major op 168, Duke Ellington / Juan Tizol, Caravan, Poulenc, Clarinet Sonata FP 184 and Mendelssohn, Song without words. Quite an eclectic choice.
Whilst home visits to some of the elderly and infirm are suspended, library staff are making weekly befriending calls to the elderly and people who are shielding because of underlying health conditions which could make them vulnerable to coronavirus.
Extra stock has been acquired to help with home schooling and staff are giving people one-to-one IT tuition so they can learn how to get connected with friends and family through conference link ups such as Zoom.
Graham Packham, who chairs the culture, heritage and libraries committee, said: “Our libraries are much more than just places where books are borrowed, and the range of important services that are being delivered since the closures are needed more than ever during these difficult times.”
If you want to join in you don’t need to live or work in the City you can join here https://www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/services/libraries-and-archives/start-using-our-libraries/Pages/Join-a-library.aspx
Preparing for the return to work
Transport for London are making preparations for the return to work and surveying businesses as to their intentions. Local intelligence suggests that the return will be phased with some 20-40% of staff returning on a staggered basis – but not just yet. A paper going before the Planning and Transportation Committee this week (another virtual online meeting) will be looking at how the streets and public spaces in the City need to be reviewed. Pavements may need to be widened to allow social distancing and more space created for a likely influx of cyclists. It even suggests an indicative 15mph speed limit should be observed as the pedestrian numbers might be larger with more walking to work. The City Corporation’s business plans are based around Supporting businesses in the immediate crisis; Sustaining the economy through it and Speeding the recovery. The Corporation’s website signposts businesses and residents to support and help and the various schemes aimed at assistance. The Lord Mayor and the Chair of Policy and Resources are working closely with businesses and trade groups to listen to the concerns and work with them to provide the engagement needed. The City has bounced back before from terrible situations and its exceptional resilience and its ingenuity is needed above all now.
Freedom of the City for Captain Tom Moore
A virtual freedom ceremony – another first for hero Captain Tom Moore.
You can view it here on YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E0DhZsmH39M