The Future of the City

The Covid-19 Pandemic has meant the vast majority of workers in the city are continuing to work from home with no sign of a turnaround any time soon. Small coffee shop owners and takeaway lunch operators in my ward have contacted me to tell me they are really struggling and are concerned for their livelihoods. The high rents in the city mean they have been unable to access business rates grants because they are over the threshold. It’s a similar, if not more damning, story for theatres and concert venues.

The future of offices looks entirely different than what we have been used to. Many employers aren’t even entertaining the idea of returning to the office, which leaves many in the city workforce stuck in a long dark tunnel with no sign of light. For those that do, desks will be fewer on each floor and more spaced out. Architects and Interior designers need to think about more meeting space. Lifts and staircases may need to be adapted. But all of this comes at a cost.

For the financial services industry in London, the future appears bleak. Could there be a long-term or even permanent delocalisation with no need or appetite for a concentration of skills in global centres now that work is being done remotely? What more can the city be doing to address this threat of delocalisation of financial services industry?

And then of course there’s the travel to work. People are reluctant to travel on the tube and it remains to be seen if they will ever return in significant numbers. What measures can we take to ensure safe commutes to central London?

We all seem to be relying on a vaccine becoming available but where are our back-up plans if this cannot be developed soon? There are urgent issues happening now. Surely our focus must be on protecting what we have built up over the years but adapting as appropriate.

The City of London Corporation in partnership with Oliver Wyman and Arup have recently published the ambitious London Recharged: Our vision for London in 2025.  At the moment, this is just blue sky thinking, and I wait to see how much of it will make it into policy.

City Giving Day 2016

City Giving Day 2018

City Giving Day is a simple but impactful initiative that enables City companies and employees to celebrate and showcase their philanthropic and volunteering achievements, and encourage others to get involved.

In 2017, 222 organisations came together to recognise all this remarkable work. By joining in they inspired up to 5,000 new volunteers to offer their time, raised more than £400,000 for good causes and highlighted some of the exceptional charitable activity that takes place throughout the year.

If you would like to find out more about City Giving Day, there is a City Giving Day Engagement Breakfast at the Mansion House, London, EC4N 8BH on Thursday 14th June at 7:45-10:00am. At this breakfast you will have an opportunity to meet and hear from previous participants about how City Giving Day supports their CSR activity, as well as hearing more about our plans for 2018 including collaborative events in the City.

Our Aldgate crowfunding initiative

Our Aldgate is a new crowdfunding initiative by the City of London being piloted in the Aldgate area.

It aims to encourage local groups to come forward with ideas for community projects and to maximise the City’s grant funding by using it to kickstart crowdfunding campaigns for the projects that meet our criteria.

From music festivals to art installations, guerrilla gardening to pop up markets, if you have an idea to make Aldgate even better, this is your opportunity to make it happen. The City of London Corporation has a £30k fund with a maximum pledge of £5,000 available to support projects crowdfunding in Aldgate.

We are inviting local businesses, community representatives and, of course to a launch event and we would be delighted if you could join us for it.

Our Aldgate is being launched at the Dorsett Hotel in Aldgate High Street on Thursday 17 May, from 5.30-7.00pm.  Please click here to register your attendance.

Aldgate Pavilion Community Cafe & Aldgate Square Festival

In my role as Chairman of Community & Children’s Services I completed the topping out ceremony (pictured) for the Pavilion in October last year.

A community cafe social enterprise called Kahaila has been selected as operator of the Pavilion and they have just soft opening. I believe they will be a unique and welcome addition to the area.

The wider public Square is the responsibility of Planning & Transportation Committee and should be completed within the next few months.

As part of the launch of the Square a Festival is being organised which will be a fun-filled community celebration of all that the East End has to offer. It will take place between 15th – 17th June 2018. If you are a budding Musician, Performer, Dancer, Artist, Workshop facilitator, Practitioner, Actor, Choir, Cook etc. please volunteer to take part.

Help shape the new City of London Corporation housing allocations scheme

The City of London Corporation is holding a public consultation on a proposed new Housing Allocations Scheme.

The policy will determine how all social housing on the City Corporation’s 12 estates across London is let and to whom.

The updated scheme will reflect changes in the law and the rental market, to be clearer about how social housing is let, and to prioritise applicants who are most in need.

The proposed changes include:

  • expanding the range of applicants entitled to priority as lower income households
  • reviewing the level of savings and assets that would disqualify an applicant from accessing social housing
  • increasing the priority given to overcrowded families when siblings of different genders must share a bedroom
  • helping some single tenants who live in a studio to move to a one bedroom flat
  • reducing the priority of applicants who have contributed to their own housing problems.

Dhruv Patel, Chairman of the Community and Children’s Services Committee said:

“We are asking residents across all our estates and City workers to share their views on the proposed scheme.

“The aim of our housing allocations policy is to achieve a balance between the housing needs of existing City of London tenants and those applying to be new tenants.

“We want to make the best use of our housing stock in this time of extremely high demand for social housing across London.”

The consultation is open until 18 August and surveys are available in City Corporation libraries at Barbican, Artizan Street and Shoe Lane or at

The City of London Corporation provides housing for Londoners across seven of the capital’s boroughs and is building another 3,700 homes across London by 2025.

£427,000 injection to tackle homelessness across Square Mile

The City of London Corporation has committed to a £427,000 increase in funding to help tackle homelessness across the City.

The extra money follows a decision by the City Corporation’s Community & Children’s Services Committee to support new services including specialist accommodation and support services.

The funding aims to reduce long term rough sleeping and ensure that more of those who arrive new to the streets, spend no more than one night out.

A range of new services will help the City Corporation’s outreach team, led by St Mungo’s, to deal with rough sleepers who require specialist professional intervention.

The plans include the commissioning of new specialist beds for rough sleepers struggling with drug-use and mental health issues, a specialist mental health worker, outreach welfare specialist, and expanded access to detox and rehab treatment programmes.

Proposals to embed a specialist community safety officer alongside St Mungo’s outreach teams will improve identification and mapping of begging activity, meaning better targeting of outreach services to help vulnerable rough sleepers and support enforcement where outreach and engagement have been refused.

Dhruv Patel, Chairman of the City of London Corporation’s Community & Children’s Committee, said:

“Homelessness is an issue that remains a real challenge across London.

“We must reduce the risk of long-term homelessness and put an end to rough sleeping in the Square Mile.

“The City Corporation is committed to supporting people who find themselves homelessness or sleeping rough, and working closely with our partners and the Mayor of London, to identify new solutions.

“The approval of the funding will ensure that the relevant services are fully resourced to do this.”

The City of London Corporation runs a range of schemes aimed at tackling homelessness in the Square Mile, including:

  • The City of London Outreach Team service, which is delivered by St Mungo’s, aims to help rough sleepers off the streets and into the support that best matches their needs, ensuring they break harmful street lifestyle choices
  • The Lodge and City Lodge –innovative accommodation schemes run in partnership with St Mungo’s, designed to meet the needs of some of London’s most entrenched rough sleepers.

Bank Junction experimental safety scheme

As forewarned in my January 2017 article, the “Bank On Safety” experimental safety scheme has now been implemented. From 22 May between the hours of 7am-7pm Monday to Friday, the only vehicles permitted to cross Bank junction have been buses and pedal cycles. The aim is to significantly reduce collisions and follows a number of fatalities and serious accidents at the junction.

There will be a formal public consultation on how the experiment is working which will begin in late June. However, the Chairman of Planning and Transportation will be reporting to the Policy and Resources Committee of the City Corporation, which I sit on, at its meeting of Thursday 6 July and I would be delighted to receive your comments by reply to this email in advance of that meeting so that I can raise any relevant issues as might be necessary.

Further information is available here.

Next Aldgate Business Forum event on Mon 17 Jul

We are delighted to announce that the guest speaker for the Aldgate Business Forum event on Monday 17 July 2017 will be HE, The Ambassador of Ireland to the UK, Dan Mulhall.

He will talk on the relationship between Britain and Ireland post Brexit and post the General Election result.

The event will start at 6pm and is kindly being hosted by the insurance broker Jardine Lloyd Thompson at their London office The St Botolph Building, 138 Houndsditch EC3A 7AW.

We very much look forward to welcoming you, so please confirm your place by registering here.

Alderman Peter Hewitt JP
Deputy Doug Barrow CC
Sylvia Moys CC
Hugh Morris CC
Dhruv Patel CC
Andrien Meyers CC

Shoe Lane Library reopens after major refurbishment

One of the City’s biggest community spaces has reopened after an extensive refurbishment.

A revamp to Shoe Lane Library, owned and managed by the City of London Corporation, has improved reading areas, created a new well-being space, laid new carpets, installed tablets for e-magazines and a new coffee machine.

The project has also increased space for study and relaxation.

The changes include:

  • New well-being area with books on health as well as new comfortable chairs for relaxation
  • Two tablets for reading e-magazines from the City of London libraries’ collection
  • A new coffee machine
  • New carpets
  • New modern furniture
  • New services from City Advice, Smoking Cessation and Victim Support

Dhruv Patel, Chairman of the City of London Corporation’s Community and Children’s Services committee, said:

“The refurbishment of Shoe Lane library forms part of the City of London’s Corporation’s commitment to providing quality community services for its residents and visitors.

“We now have a library fit for the 21st century with which we hope offers a safe neutral, shared space, in which people feel they belong and to which people feel they can visit alone or with friends.”

The library has a range of services available for visitors including:

  • Books, audio books and language sets
  • DVDs and CDs
  • Free Wi-Fi, computers and internet access
  • Reading groups
  • Rhymetime and Stay and Play for under 5s
  • Home delivery service
  • Friendly, expert staff

Update on the elections

As you might be aware 2017 has been an election year for the City of London Common Council. What may be news though is that Aldgate was one of the six Wards in the City which did not have a contest. Four out of your five existing Common Councilmen, Douglas Barrow, Hugh Morris, Sylvia Moys and I have been returned.

However, David Thompson, decided, for personal reasons, to withdraw his papers after serving for 13 years as one of your Councilmen. We would like to thank David for his service and contribution.

In his place, Andrien Meyers will be introduced to the Court on 27th April as the newest Member for the Ward of Aldgate. Andrien brings some new skill sets to the Ward and the City and we are looking forward to working alongside him for the next four years.

In January, I conducted a survey in the Ward of top concerns relating to the City. We are using the results of the survey to set our priorities for the forthcoming term in office.  They were:

  1. Transportation particularly safe and easy movement for pedestrians;
  2. Air quality;
  3. Brexit; and
  4. Noise and disruption in relation to building works/development in the area.

Thank you for your support. We are honoured to serve you and the City.