The City of London provides local government services for the financial and commercial heart of Britain, the ‘Square Mile’. It is committed to maintaining and enhancing the status of the business City as the world leader in international finance and business services through the policies it pursues and the high standard of services it provides. Its responsibilities extend far beyond the City boundaries in that it also provides a host of additional facilities for the benefit of the nation. These range from open spaces such as Epping Forest and Hampstead Heath to the famous Barbican Centre.
The City of London combines its ancient traditions and ceremonial functions with the role of a modern and efficient local authority, looking after the needs of its residents, businesses and over 320,000 people who come to work in the ‘Square Mile’ every day. Among local authorities the City of London is unique; not only is it the oldest in the country but it operates on a non-party political basis through its Lord Mayor, Aldermen and members of the Court of Common Council. The Lord Mayor in particular plays an important diplomatic role with his overseas visits and functions at the historic Guildhall and Mansion House for visiting heads of State.
In addition to the usual services provided by a local authority such as housing, refuse collection, education, social services, environmental health and town planning, the City of London performs a number of very special functions. It runs its own police force and the nation’s Central Criminal Court, the Old Bailey. It provides five Thames bridges, runs the quarantine station at Heathrow Airport and is the Port Health Authority for the whole of the Thames tidal estuary. Three premier wholesale food markets (Billingsgate, Spitalfields and Smithfield) which supply London and the South East with fresh produce also belong to the City of London. Many of these services are funded from the City of London’s own investments at no cost to the public.
The City of London is committed to an extensive programme of activities designed to assist its neighbours to combat social deprivation so that they can benefit from the wealth the Square Mile generates. Staff and members of the City of London have, through centuries of careful stewardship, ensured that the Square Mile has continued to thrive. Today’s City of London, through its philosophy of sustainable development, aims to share these benefits with future generations of residents, businesses and workers.
The City of London: a unique authority.