City Corporation plans a Reset to engage residents and Belonging for workers

The City of London is planning to spend £150,000 on a “Residential Reset” to engage better with the 8600 people living in the Square Mile. Proposals go to Policy and Resources Committee on February 23.

The Committee is also recommended to approve £70,000 on The City Belonging Project to support engagement with the estimated 587,000 people who work in the City.

Committee proceedings will be online from 1.45 on City of London Youtube channel

Update: the proposals were agreed without discussion

Residential Reset

The City has a unique voting system under which both residents and workers elect 100 Common Councillors and 25 Aldermen or Alderwomen. Alison Gowman offers a useful explanation

The committee report says:

.“Residential Reset” has been one of the key priorities of the Policy Chairman since he assumed office. At its core is a wish to overhaul the City Corporation’s engagement with those who live here and ensure that residents are seen as a strategic priority across the organisation”. It adds:

“Due to the hybrid nature of our electoral system, whereby all eligible residents and a small proportion of workers are eligible to vote, residents made up 31% of voters on last year’s Ward List. 71% of these were in the legislatively defined “residential wards” of Aldersgate, Cripplegate, Portsoken and Queenhithe, together electing a fifth of Common Councillors and where at least 85% of voters are residents. Residents also make up a substantial proportion of the electorate in Farringdon Within (42%) and Tower (27%)”.

There are three main residential estates: Barbican (2074 properties); Golden lane (575) and Middlesex Street (250). There are email lists for each estate. The report says:

“For residents outside our managed estates, communications coverage is patchy. They are also less organised into formal residents groups than those living on our estates, though some are in contact with the City Corporation and with BIDs. While individual teams such as Planning hold email lists for specific purposes, there is no comprehensive way of reaching all our residents.

“While all residential properties previously received a physical copy of the City Resident magazine, this ended in Summer 2021, and just 175 people have signed up to receive its email replacement, approximately 2% of our adult population. We must run a comprehensive multi-channel campaign to ensure a much higher proportion of City residents are persuaded to sign up for communications of this type, including gaining the permission of those on other email lists to receive them”.

Residential Reset proposals

Proposals focus on recruiting a Resident Campaigns and Communications Manager on a one-year contract 2023/24. They would:

  • Develop and run a communications campaign to better engage the resident community with the City of London Corporation, focusing in particular on the collection of email addresses and creating effective content, online and offline, for residential audiences.
  • Deliver eight annual City-wide resident meetings
  • Coordinate a consultations calendar
  • Feed concerns from estates to officers and the political leadership
  • Help improve engagement with residents outside managed estates – including support with the creation of residents associations and other community activities, and identify and collate contacts in existing residents groups and ensure they are supported effectively.
  • Liaise with City Corporation teams on the resident offer, and support elected members

Engagement with City workers

The City Belonging Project report says:

“The City Corporation has long struggled to engage our worker community as a whole with our activities, communications and consultations, including voter registration and events. While significant work is carried out by individual teams to engage specific people at specific organisations for specific purposes, a comprehensive approach to our 587,000-strong worker population has never been devised. We currently possess no central email list or other scalable means of contacting each City workplace. This affects how members interact with their worker constituents, who are extremely difficult to reach compared to residents; the existing Ward Newsletter, received by the 2% of workers on the Ward List at an annual cost of £40,000, is not an effective means of member engagement.

“As we look towards the next City-wide elections in 2025, and December 2024 registration deadline, this report proposes that we create a new dimension to our relationship with City workplaces, irrespective of size and sector. By harnessing the increased role of diversity networks across the working City, we can use our convening power to promote and incubate inter-company communities across the Square Mile. We would draw this together into a community engagement campaign, modelled on the successful “Speak for the City” programme of election engagement, called the City Belonging Project. This would provide information on and support existing networks and activities, including our own events, and work with partners across the working City to develop new ones. In so doing, we would create significant value for our community, helping them to become better connected across the Square Mile. This will be of significant long-term benefit to our organisation, giving us a means by which to contact City workplaces for the purposes of community engagement irrespective of topic, from consultations and electoral registration to member-constituent engagement and event invitations. Not only should this save time and money for individual teams looking to engage with workers, but may have the potential to be self-financing in the long term.

“In advance of the 2021/22 Common Councillor registration period and elections, the Policy and Resources committee used its contingency funds to support a successful election engagement programme. It is proposed to again allocate £70,000 from Policy and Resources Committee Contingency to support this work, with a view to the City Belonging Project facilitating election engagement efforts. It is proposed to supplement this funding by suspending the Ward Newsletters for a period of two years, freeing up £80,000 in further funding over that period. This work will be project managed directly by the Head of Campaigns and Community Engagement”.

Ward newsletters

The City’s website has pdf copies of Ward newsletter here and says:

“Members of each ward regularly keep in touch with their constituents. This can range from surgeries to ward club meetings, including newsletters.

“Ward newsletters are published twice a year and sent directly to all registered voters to keep them up to date with current issues facing the ward and the City”.

I’ll check that distribution of newsletters will continue to residents.

Update: I’ve had confirmation that Ward newsletters will be entirely suspended for two years. I’ll check what other arrangements may be in place.

As a City resident …

I live in the Farringdon Within Ward, and I asked the Policy Chairman Chris Hayward at recent City-wide residents’ event about consultation with residents in the north west of the City . He promised early action. You can see the exchange here.

Categories in the right sidebar have more on BIDs (Business Improvement Districts), a possible community forum, and ideas for a community hub. A long time ago I wrote a book on community participation.


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