Agenda item



Support for EU nationals in the City

Tijs Broeke asked a question of the Chair of the Policy and Resources Committee regarding the provision of advice and support services for EU nationals living and working in the City.


In response, the Chair agreed that it was unacceptable for there to be any uncertainty about the rights of EU citizens living in the UK and noted that the City Corporation had continued to highlight to Government the importance of access to talent after Brexit, in both public and private, over the past three years.  She observed that, after Brexit, it was clear the UK required an immigration system that would allow businesses to access the people they need and noted that the global mix of people was a crucial part of London’s position as a global financial centre.


The Chair noted the assistance being provided by the City Corporation to residents who were EU citizens, with staff at Barbican and Community Libraries assisting people with making online applications for UK visas and citizenship via library computers and library staff assisting EU citizens with registering for Settled Status. City Corporation employees had been consistently advised and offered assistance to make sure that all were aware of the Settled Status scheme, and the City had commissioned adverts, newsletters and used a series of media interventions to warn small and medium enterprises of the need to prepare for a No Deal Brexit. These efforts would continue and intensify in the lead up to 31 October.


Replying to a supplementary question from Tijs Broeke concerning the electoral rights of EU nationals after Brexit, the Chair noted that the Honourable Member had now been provided with some detail on the technical law regarding the electoral rights of EU nationals in Common Council elections. She added that it is was her understanding that the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 had not altered the position of ‘relevant citizens of the Union’ in the domestic electoral law governing candidature and voting and, unless Parliament legislated to remove this reference from the provisions relating to voting eligibility and qualification, EU citizens would continue to be able to vote and hold office, both in local councils and the Common Council.


City of London School for Girls Proposed Expansion

Mark Bostock asked a question of the Chairman of the Board of Governors of the City of London School for Girls concerning the future of the City of London School for Girls within the Barbican Estate, asking whether the proposed expansion within the Estate could be reconsidered and if thought could be given to a long-term expansion strategy outside the Barbican Estate.


Responding, the Chairman outlined the rationale and requirement for the expansion proposals and assured Members that significant thought had been given to them, with the Board’s firm belief being that they represented the best way forward in continuing to deliver a world-class education to pupils. He emphasised that the School valued its place at the heart of the Barbican Estate deeply and, to that end, had worked closely with the local community in developing its plans for expansion, including regular meetings with Barbican House representatives. The School was currently undertaking an extensive consultation process, the findings of which would be considered fully prior to the development of a preferred scheme. This would be subject to a full and robust planning application process, following which, it would be for the usual committees to consider the proposals, including the Planning & Transportation Committee, in the normal way.


Mark Bostock asked a supplementary question, in which he drew the Chairman’s attention to a petition with over 3000 signatures to save the Barbican Estate from harmful development arising from the School, seeking assurances any further developments would take place outside of the Barbican Estate. Responding, the Chairman advised that the Board had considered a number of options, within and without the Estate, and that the preferred option was that which was currently being developed. He stressed that the School had long been part of the fabric of the Barbican Estate and had worked hard to be good neighbour; whilst the School had changed over the years, it was not the only element within the Estate which had done so. He observed that the Estate was a living community which needed to continually evolve to meet needs of all stakeholders. In coming to a view on any proposals, the planners would inevitably balance any perceived harm with the anticipated benefits that would accrue from any expansion – as would the Planning & Transportation Committee. The Chairman suggested that it would be appropriate to leave such judgments to them, rather than speculate prior to proposals being submitted.


In reply to a further supplementary question from William Pimlott concerning past undertakings and the need to develop a long-term plan for the School outside of the Barbican Estate, the Chairman referred to the Chair of Policy & Resources’ comments at the last meeting of the Court, advising that he too had seen no evidence of such an undertaking. He also stated that he did not believe it was appropriate to make such promises, nor would he  seek to do so; however, he assured Honourable Members that the School would always strive to be as good a neighbour as possible whilst meeting the needs of its pupils, and would continue to seek to engage with residents as far as possible to minimise any potential conflict between the two.


In response to a further supplementary question from Mary Durcan, which sought clarity as to the existence of long-term plans for the School and asked for them to be shared with residents and the Court, the Chairman advised that the current five-year plan was now coming to an end and that a new plan was now beginning to be developed. He also took the opportunity to emphasise that the Board was committed to working with the local community.


Replying to a further supplementary question from Jeremy Mayhew, which urged the Chairman to reconsider the proposals in the light of significant opposition from residents and previous undertakings made, the Chairman reiterated that all views were currently being collated as part of the public consultation process and would be considered when the Board moved forward to the planning process.


Motion – That, pursuant to Standing Order 2, Standing Order 13(6) be suspended, to facilitate continued debate.


Upon the Motion being put, the Lord Mayor declared it to be lost.


Smithfield Market and Markets Consolidation Programme

Deputy Brian Mooney asked a question of the Chair of the Policy and Resources Committee seeking an update in respect of negotiations with the Smithfield Market Tenants’ Association as part of the Markets Consolidation Programme.


Responding, the Chair advised that the City Corporation had been working closely with traders at the three existing market sites – Billingsgate, New Spitalfields and Smithfield – about the possibility of relocating to the Barking Reach site, in the London Borough of Dagenham and Redbridge. This was an exciting opportunity to design a market that was fit for the future and met the needs of traders, suppliers and customers. She noted that negotiations across the three sites were commercially sensitive but that the City continued to work constructively with traders and associations at all three sites.


In relation to Smithfield in particular, given the complex nature of the relocation process, whilst the discussions had been somewhat more protracted than the City might have ideally wished for, the City was optimistic about reaching a satisfactory conclusion in the near future. However, she was clear that any compensation would need to be fair and equitable and of a level that the City could afford.


Energy Efficiency in City Buildings

Alderman Robert Hughes-Penney asked a question of the Chair of the Planning and Transportation Committee concerning the use of air conditioning and heating in relation to energy efficiency and building design.


Replying, the Chair advised that the City of London Local Plan 2015 set ambitious targets for delivering a greener, more energy efficient City and that planning policies meant that new buildings were required to demonstrate the highest feasible and viable sustainability standards in their design, construction, operation and end of life phases of development. The sustainability credentials of buildings were assessed using the BREEAM standard and new buildings in the City had to meet BREEAM excellent or outstanding, with assessments carried out at both the design stage and after construction.  The Chair noted that a number of new buildings in the City were seen as exemplars of sustainability; for instance, the Bloomberg development was recognised as one of the most sustainable office buildings in the world.


The Chair also outlined planning policy requirements associated with tough carbon reduction targets and the sustainable build and use of new developments, as well as projects associated with making the City a greener and more attractive place to live and work, such as the Aldgate Square development and the delivery of green roofs.  


Responding to a supplementary question from Deputy Brian Mooney, the Chair advised that the City Corporation was recognised as having bold and radical policies in respect of pedestrianisation, with the new Transport Strategy setting out ambitious proposals to put walking first and make City streets more attractive and safer places to be. Amongst other measures, the Strategy included an aim to achieve pedestrian priority on half of all streets in the square mile, including through the use of access restrictions and timed pedestrianisation.


Following a further supplementary question from Deputy Tom Sleigh, the Chair welcomed the positive steps being taken by the Property Investment Board in looking at the implementation of higher sustainability standards across its property portfolio, including the recent appointment of a sustainability expert. He agreed that this was a welcome development in demonstrating the City Corporation’s commitment across the piece to sustainability and green issues.


Support for Ship Finance

Doug Barrow asked a question of the Chair of the Policy and Resources Committee concerning support for the UK’s position in relation to ship finance and the recommendations of the recently published “Catching the Wave” research report.


In reply, the Chair the commended the research report, noting it was vital in showing the importance of the sector to the UK economy and action needed to secure the current position and ensure the UK was globally competitive for the future. She observed that the UK was the global leader for maritime business services, both in terms of market share and in terms of the depth and complexity of services it offered, which tied into other work the City fed into, such as the Professional Business Services Council. The Chair was pleased to note that a number of the core recommendations around strengthening the sector aligned with the City’s corporate priorities, including promoting the UK as a centre for Green Finance and as a hub for RMB internationalisation, and ensuring that the City and the UK post Brexit remained open and attractive to global talent.


The Chair advised the Court that the City Corporation would continue to work with the industry and Government in these areas to promote opportunities for maritime and shipping and would look for further opportunities to enhance the international promotion of the industry through its global engagement programmes.