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The City of London Corporation (also known as the Corporation of London)is the municipal governing body of the City of Londonmarker. It exercises control only over the City (the "Square Mile", so called for its approximate area), and not over Greater Londonmarker. It has three main aims: to promote the city as the world's leading international financial and business centre; to provide local government services; and to provide a range of additional services for the benefit of London, Londoners and the nation.

The City of London Corporation is formally named the Mayor and Commonalty and Citizens of the City of London, thus including the Lord Mayor, the Court of Aldermen, the Court of Common Council and the Freemen and Livery of the City.

Local authority role

Local government legislation often makes special provision for the City to be treated as a London borough and for the Common Council to act as a local authority. The Corporation does not generally exercise authority over two historic extra-parochial areas, the Middle Templemarker and the Inner Templemarker, which are adjoining enclaves for two of the Inns of Court in the west of the City. But many statutory functions of the Corporation extend into these two areas.


The City of London Corporation was not reformed by the Municipal Corporations Act 1835, nor by subsequent legislation, and with time has become increasingly anomalous. In 1801 the City had a population of about 130,000, but increasing development of the City as a central business district led to this falling to below 5,000 after the Second World War. It has risen slightly to around 9,000 since, largely due to the development of the Barbican Estatemarker.

Therefore the non-residential vote (or business vote), which had been abolished in the rest of the country in 1969, became an increasingly large part of the electorate. The non-residential vote system used disfavoured incorporated companies. The City of London Act 2002 greatly increased the business franchise, allowing many more business to be represented. In 2009 the business vote was about 24,000, greatly exceeding residential voters.


Eligible voters must be at least 18 years old and a citizen of the United Kingdommarker, a European Union country, or a Commonwealth country, and either:

Each body or organisation, whether unincorporated or incorporated, whose premises are within the City of London may appoint a number of voters based on the number of workers it employs. Limited liability partnerships fall into this category.

Bodies employing fewer than ten workers may appoint one voter, those employing ten to fifty workers may appoint one voter for every five; those employing more than fifty workers may appoint ten voters and one additional voter for every fifty workers beyond the first fifty.

Though workers count as part of a workforce regardless of nationality, only certain individuals may be appointed as voters. Under section 5 of the City of London (Ward Elections) Act 2002, the following are eligible to be appointed as voters (the qualifying date is September 1 of the year of the election):
  • Those who have worked for the body for the past year at premises in the City
  • Those who have served on the body's Board of Directors for the past year at premises in the City
  • Those who have worked in the City for the body for an aggregate total of five years
  • Those who have worked for in the City for a total of ten years

Qualified voters can vote twice, once at local government elections in the City and once at local government elections in the district where their home address is situated. Residents of the City can only vote once.


The City of London is divided into twenty-five wards, or electoral divisions. Each ward may elect one Alderman and a number of Councilmen based on the size of the electorate. The numbers below reflect the changes caused by the City of London (Ward Elections) Act.

Ward Common Councilmen
Aldersgatemarker 5
Aldgatemarker 5
Bassishawmarker 3
Billingsgatemarker 2
Bishopsgatemarker 8
Bread Streetmarker 2
Bridgemarker 2
Broad Streetmarker 3
Candlewickmarker 2
Castle Baynardmarker 7
Cheapmarker 2
Coleman Streetmarker 5
Cordwainermarker 3
Cornhillmarker 2
Cripplegatemarker 9
Dowgatemarker 2
Farringdon Withinmarker 8
Farringdon Withoutmarker 10
Langbournmarker 2
Lime Streetmarker 3
Portsokenmarker 4
Queenhithemarker 2
Towermarker 5
Vintrymarker 2
Walbrookmarker 2
Total 100

Livery companies

There are over one hundred livery companies in London. The companies were originally trade associations; in modern times, much of their role is ceremonial. The senior members of the livery companies, known as liverymen, form a special electorate known as Common Hall. Common Hall is the body that chooses the Lord Mayor of the City, the sheriffs and certain other officers.

The Court of Aldermen

Wards originally elected aldermen for life, but the term is now only six years. The alderman may, if he chooses, submit to an election before the six-year period ends. In any case, an election must be held no later than six years after the previous election. The sole qualification for the office is that Aldermen must be Freemen of the City.

Aldermen are ex officio Justices of the Peace. All Aldermen also serve in the Court of Common Council.

The Court of Common Council

The north wing of Guildhall, which houses most of the administration of the City.
The Court of Common Council, also known as the Common Council of the City of London, is formally referred to as the mayor, aldermen, and commons of the City of London in common council assembled.

Each ward may choose a number of common councilmen. A Common Councilman must be a registered voter in a City ward, own a freehold or lease land in the City, or reside in the City for the year prior to the election. He or she must also be over 21; a Freeman of the City; and a British, Irish, Commonwealth or EU citizen. Common Council elections are held every four years, most recently in March 2009. Common Councilmen may use the initials CC after their names.

The Lord Mayor and the Sheriffs

The Lord Mayor of the City of London and the two Sheriff are chosen by liverymen meeting in Common Hall. Sheriffs, who serve as assistants to the Lord Mayor, are chosen on Midsummer Day. The Lord Mayor, who must have previously been a Sheriff, is chosen on Michaelmas. Both the Lord Mayor and the Sheriffs are chosen for terms of one year.

The Lord Mayor fulfills several roles:

The ancient and continuing office of Lord Mayor of the City of London (with responsibility for the City of London) should not be confused with the office of Mayor of London (responsible for the whole of Greater Londonmarker and created in 2000).

Conservation areas and green spaces

The City of London Corporation maintains around 10,000 acres (40 km²) of public green spaces - mainly conservation areas / nature reserves - in Greater Londonmarker and the surrounding counties. The most well-known of the conservation areas are Hampstead Heathmarker and Epping Forestmarker. Other areas include Ashtead Commonmarker, Burnham Beechesmarker, Highgate Woodmarker and the South London Commons (six commons on the southern fringe of London).

Unusually, the Corporation also runs the unheated Parliament Hill Lidomarker, as it is part of Hampstead Heath inherited from the London Residuary Body in 1989.

The City also owns and manages two traditional city parks: Queen's Park and West Ham Parkmarker as well as over 150 smaller public green spaces.


The City of London has only one directly-maintained primary school. The school is called the Sir John Cass's Foundation Primary School (ages 4 to 11). The school is the only voluntary-aided Church of England primary school in the City of London. The school is maintained by the Education Service of the City of London.

City of London residents may send their children to schools in neighbouring Local Education Authorities (LEAs).

For secondary schools children enroll in schools in neighbouring LEAs, such as Islingtonmarker, Tower Hamletsmarker, Westminstermarker and Southwarkmarker. Children who have permanent residence in the city of London are eligible for transfer to the City of London Academymarker, an independent secondary school sponsored by the City of London that is located in Southwark.

The City of London controls three other independent schools — the City of London School for Boys, the City of London School for Girlsmarker, and the co-educational City of London Freemen's Schoolmarker. The Lord Mayor also holds the posts of Chancellor of City Universitymarker and President of Gresham Collegemarker, an institute of advanced study.

The Guildhall School of Music and Drama is owned and funded by the Corporation.


The City of London Corporation has long come in for criticism due to its unusual form of governance.

"The corporation is a group of hangers-on, who create what is known as the best dining club in the City ... a rotten borough." - John McDonnell, during the debates on the Ward Elections Act.

"Nowadays, with its Lord Mayor, its Beadles, Sheriffs and Aldermen, its separate police force and its select electorate of freemen and liverymen, the City of London is an anachronism of the worst kind. The Corporation, which runs the City like a one-party mini-state, is an unreconstructed old boys' network whose medievalist pageantry camouflages the very real power and wealth which it holds." - pp110, Rough Guide to England, 2006

An attempt was made to amalgamate the corporation with the local government structures serving the rest of London at the end of the 19th century. A Royal Commission on the Amalgamation of the City and County of London reported a mechanism for this to be achieved in 1894. However, the amalgamation did not take place.

See also


  1. The body was popularly known as the Corporation of London but on 10 November 2005 the Corporation announced that its informal title would from 3 January 2006 be the City of London (or the City of London Corporation where the corporate body needed to be distinguished from the geographical area). This may reduce confusion between the Corporation and the Greater London Authority.
  3. Example usage: interpretation clause in the Open Spaces Act 1906.
  5. Corporation of London Open Spaces

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