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Corporation of London

Corporation of London
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Corporation of London  

What is the Corporation of London?

After the Arts Council of England and the BBC, the Corporation of London is the third bigges t sponsor for the arts in Britain. In performing arts field, the Corporation of London has o wned, funded and managed the Barbican Centre since 1982.

The City of London is one of the largest self-governing districts of Greater London and is the center of the city’s financial district just like Wall Street is in New York. Within a small area of about one square mile (approx. 2.6 sq. km), you will find the London stock exchange, the Bank of England and many other financial institutions. The district has only about 5,000 permanent residents, but during the week about 500,000 people (as of 2005) are said to be working in the City of London. The Corporation of London administers this district, which is also commonly referred to as the Square Mile, as a specially governed entity that has its own police force. When referring to London in general you are actually referring to Greater London, (administered by the Greater London Authority [GLA], a vast metropolitan area consisting of 33 self-governed districts including the City of London).

The Corporation of London as an administrative entity has its roots in the Middle Ages. It is the oldest regional governing body in Great Britain and has a parliamentary type structure known as the Court of Common Council that is said to be the model on which the British Parliament was organized.

The Court of Common Council has no organizations like political parties and it is made up of the Lord Mayor, 24 Aldermen and 112 Common Councilmen and performs as a body of governance. Within its long history it has developed its own unique systems of governance like its election system.

As the chief administrative officer of the Corporation of London, the Lord Mayor has been elected every year since 1546 on Michaelmas Day (September 29). The Lord Mayor’s term is one year and the Court of Aldermen bear the responsibility of approving the elected Lord Mayor. As for the Lord Mayor’s responsibilities, he/she serves not only the Chief Magistrate of the City of London but also as the Admiral of the Port of London and Chancellor of City University.

The position of the Lord Mayor as Head of the Corporation of London is different from the position of the Mayor of London, who is Chief Magistrate of the Greater London Authority (GLA).

About the finances of the Corporation of London

Like other regional public organizations, the Corporation of London provides a variety of services and engages in its own law enforcement activities through the City of London Police. The financial structure for these operations is supported by three main pillars.

1. The City Fund
The main source of revenue for the City of London is taxes (fixed asset taxes, etc.), profits from other operations (of which most goes to the various public organizations and the Corporation can only retain a small portion), national funding and other forms of support from the government.

2. City's Cash
This fund dates back to the 13th century and it has continued to be added to into this century. Today it provides funding for the Lord Mayor’s public activities, the running of the three city offices at Smithfield, Billingsgate and Leadenhall, management of the 10,000 acres of land owned in the Greater London area and operation of the three private schools and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.

3. Bridge House Estates
This fund is used for the maintenance of the bridges of London, including the London Bridge, Blackfriar’s Bridge Southwark Bridge and the Tower Bridge. This fund is now a public service trust and the Corporation of London serves as the trust holder.
Since 2000, the Corporation of London has sought to expand the scope of its support beyond the Square Mile in cultural activities that involve joint projects with the national government. It continues to give support to the Barbican Arts Centre, open spaces like Epping Forest and Hampstead Heath and facilities like the London Central Criminal Court.

The City of London Festival, the large-scale arts festival like Edinburgh and Brighton is he ld elsewhere in the City for three weeks from late June to early July every year subsidized by the Corporation.