The Election Process

The City Ward Elections
For a very extensive review of the processes click here

For a detailed summary – see below

Common Council Elections – structure and processes

Based on a presentation made to Lime Street Ward Club 18th Feb 2013 by Peter Cave (Lower Warden) – checked and still accurate (2020).

What follows is a personal viewpoint of the various roles, rules and regulations and should NOT be relied on in any way for those seeking Election……

The two major documents;
The Wardmote Book
Guidance Notes for Candidates and Agents

Why are elections in the City of London somewhat different from a “typical” Election ?

Because of the City’s Historic Structure and unusual demographics.
Area Approx 1 square mile
Population Around 9,000 residents and 340,000 workers commuting every day into/from the City.

It is the only area in the country where, to try to offer a truly representative electorate, votes are available to Residents and City based organisations (non-residential votes).

Important to realise that non-residential votes are NOT a block vote from the Organisation, but secret individual votes. In addition all the City Rules and Regulations make it very clear that each individual organisation should in allocating its votes try to create a fair representation of its own organisation.

The government of the City is discharged by the Corporation through three Assemblies:

Court of Aldermen
25 Aldermen including the Lord Mayor plus the Recorder of London

Role of the Recorder
The Senior Circuit Judge at the “Old Bailey”
– Legal advisor to the Court of Aldermen

Role of the Court of Aldermen
Until the Mid 14th C. it ran the City of London – this responsibility was then transferred to the Court of Common Council

The Court of Aldermen meets 9 times a year at Guildhall
Duties include;
– Agree (or not) those being put forward for Freedom of the City of London
– Approving the Formation of Livery Companies
– Approving Applications for Freedom of the City
– Overseeing the Management of the Mansion House
– Making Nominations to the Court of Common Council for the appointment of Aldermen to City of London Committees

Also to appoint:
The Sword Bearer
City Marshal
Common Cryer and Serjeant at Arms
Although all of these three roles are ceremonial – the holders of the posts are also all involved in wide range of roles behind the scenes supporting the Lord Mayor and the Corporation.

The most important role of the Court of Alderman is to chose the City’s Lord Mayor
– must be an Alderman
– must have been a Sheriff
It is the Court of Aldermen who decide who goes forward to Common Hall, and stand as Lord Mayor

Common Hall

Who can attend?
The Lord Mayor, Aldermen, Liverymen of the City Livery Companies (of at least one year’s standing and who also hold the Freedom of the city of London)

Main role is to Elect the 2 Sheriffs on Midsummer Day
– one will be an Alderman (very likely to become Lord Mayor)
– one will often be a Common Councilman but not necessarily
Occasionally both Sheriffs will be Aldermen e.g Peter Estlin and William Russell, when the City is looking to enhance its pool of potential candidates for the office of Lord Mayor.

Common Council

Lord Mayor, Aldermen and 100 Common Councilmen from the 25 Wards
The decision making body – based on an extensive Committee Based system

Who can be a Common Councilman
A person must at the date of nomination, and at the date of election, be:
18 years or over
A Freeman of the City of London
A British subject, or a citizen of the Republic of Ireland, or a citizen of another member state of the European Union
Registered on the City of London Ward Lists (an elector)
Own freehold or leasehold land in the City – maximum number of joint tenants who can qualify is four
Have resided in the City for 12 months preceding the date of Nomination/Election and intends to reside here until the date of election
Not be disqualified
e.g., bankruptcy or conviction of fraud or crime for which a prison sentence has been imposed.

The candidate must submit a Nomination Paper subscribed (signed) by five registered electors from the Ward that the candidate is standing for election in.

The Candidate must also complete a Consent to Nomination form on which the Candidate states their qualification to be a candidate and consents to be nominated.

The period for submissions of nominations once the election has been called is 10 days.

How many CC’s in a Ward?
This depends on the expected number of residents and workers in the Ward and is reviewed every few years.

To attempt to achieve a degree of balance, Ward Boundaries and number of CC’s in each Ward (Minimum 2) will be debated and possibly changed every decade or so. The last series of changes were introduced in 2013.
e.g Lime Street . From 2013 we lost the southern side of Leadenhall Market to Langbourn Ward BUT they in turn lost an area at the western end of their Ward to Walbrook.

However Lime Street gained a CC (from 3 to 4) in view of ongoing property developments such as The Leadenhall Building (“Cheese Grater”) which has amongst its tenants the AON Group, this being their Head Office. (They took around 8 floors or so, from late 2015 – Approx 2,000 staff).

Wards and Number of Common Councilmen (CC’s) as at 1/1/2021.

Farringdon Without 10

Castle Baynard 8

Cripplegate 8

Farringdon Within 8

Aldersgate 6

Bishopsgate 6

Aldgate 5

Coleman Street 4

Lime Street 4

Portsoken 4

Tower 4

Broad Street 3

Cheap 3

Cordwainer 3

Cornhill 3

Langbourn 3

Bassishaw 2

Billingsgate 2

Bread Street 2

Bridge and Bridge Without 2

Candlewick 2

Dowgate 2

Vintry 2

Walbrook 2

Queenhithe 2

Under what rules are the elections run ?

City of London Ward Elections are governed by Acts of Common Council, the City of London (Various Powers) Act 1957 and the City of London (Ward Elections) Act 2002.

They are also governed, in part, by national legislation including Representation of the People Acts and Regulations and influenced by the Electoral Commission Guidance notes (Especially the Guidance notes for Candidates)

Who can Vote ?

Those who, on the qualifying date: – 1st September before the Election are;
Owners or tenants of land or building shown on a local non-domestic rating list, in that Ward

Residents in that Ward?
– 2 residences, 2 wards – 1 Vote!

Persons appointed in writing as voters by a “
qualifying body” which is ordinarily someone who occupies as owner or tenant any premises situated in that Ward,

Registered in the appropriate Ward List

Must be also be;
Citizen of the UK, Commonwealth Citizens or Citizens of the Republic of Ireland or relevant citizens of the European Union.
18 or over

Qualifying Bodies
For Lime Street the key area of interest as we have very few residential voters.
Qualifying body” means;
A body corporate (i.e. a company)
An unincorporated body other than a partnership (for example a Livery Company).

Where do partnerships fit in ?
LLPs (Limited Liability Partnerships) treated as a Body Corporate

True partnerships (likely to be smaller operations) – each partner has an individual vote

Ward List

Responsibility of the Town Clerk (also referred to in this context as the Ward Clerk – not to be confused with the Hon Ward Clerk – see later)
 – No system of rolling registration for Ward elections in the City
 – Voters need to register every year

The Corporation tries by various means to achieve as full and as active a list as possible giving two opportunities to register by creating a provisional list and then a final list.

How many votes ?

Depends on the size of a Business’s workforce.
1 for a workforce of up to 5
1 for every 5 workers up to 50
PLUS 1 for every 50 workers
N.B. Remember these are Secret, individual votes.

i.e. AON Group in The Leadenhall Building have somewhere around 50 votes.

As mentioned earlier the businesses are asked to try to ensure that as far as is reasonably practicable, that the appointments it makes reflects the composition of its workforce

Who can be nominated ?

There are various rules re who can be nominated mainly to do with period of time working in the Ward or The City
Principal or only place of work is within the City and has been for the whole of the twelve months preceding the qualifying date (1st September year before the election )

Works for the qualifying body proposing to appoint him/her and has done so during the whole of that period

Person has had his principal or only place of work within the City for an aggregate period of at least:

Five years during the whole of which time he has worked exclusively for the qualifying body proposing to appoint him; or
Ten years in any other case and at least part of the period relied on falls within the five years preceding the qualifying date.

Basically; All persons whose principal or only place of work on the qualifying date is the premises occupied by the body in the Ward – can also include retired people (I believe ?)

How many do vote ?

Going through the elected seats in the Wards over the past few years (many are uncontested), the normal percentage of votes cast seems to be between 20% to 30% of the electorate.
Lime Street seems to have a substantially higher percentage – it has been between 40% – 50%+.

Time Table for the Whole Process

Based on an actual example;

Ward Lists
Published and made available to Candidates                                                            Friday 8 February
Into force                                                                                                                                      16 February
Notice of Election published and Nominations open                                                       16 February
Close of Nominations                                                                                                             26 February, 12 NOON
Last Date for withdrawals of candidature                                                                       1 March, 12 NOON
Deadline for postal vote applications                                                                                 6 March, 5pm
Dispatch of postal votes                                                                                                             8 March
Deadline for proxy vote applications                                                                                 13 March
N.B. In future years – the dates will be very similar, perhaps changed by a day in case of weekends…..

An election is required ?

A “Notice of Poll” will be Issued by the Ward Clerk
– no later than 13th March

Wardmote (Meeting)

The word “mote” itself gives an indication of the age and history of the whole process – it comes from the Saxon word – “moot” = meeting of senior people.
The day before the date of the election (whether it is necessary for there to be an election or not) a Wardmote will be held.
The Wardmote is organised by our Hon. Ward Clerk.
The “mote” is chaired by the Ward Alderman, accompanied by his Beadle – a very interesting 30/45 mins where all the Candidates get to make a presentation.

Where is the Wardmote to be held ?
Must be held within the boundaries of the Ward – historically for Lime Street in Lloyd’s Old Library.

Who can attend ?
There is no express guidance as to who is entitled to attend the Wardmote.

Prior to Section 2 of the Act of Common Council of 23 May 1968 only people entitled to attend a Wardmote were those on the Ward list for the Ward in which the Wardmote was being held (and other persons with the approval of the Alderman for the Ward)

If an election is required the Wardmote will be adjourned with the election being held on the following day 8.00am – 8.00pm with the results being declared at around 9.00pm – 10.00pm that evening.

Those who are elected cannot serve as CC’s until they have attended Guildhall for a short Ceremony, where they declare their allegiance.

Hon. Ward Clerk

Each Alderman appoints an Honorary Ward Clerk to be responsible for;
– instructing the Ward Beadle to command attention at the commencement of the Wardmote
– reading aloud the Precept (Rules of the Election)
– assisting the Alderman in the running of the Wardmote
– otherwise assisting in the Ward as directed by the Alderman.

Ward Beadle

In our case (in 2020)this is Stephen Kipping, whose father was Ward Beadle before him.
Opens, adjourns (if there is an election called) and closes the Wardmote.

The Ward Beadle is an officer of the Ward responsible to the Alderman and the voters of the Ward.
– some Wards have more than one Beadle.

The duties of the office of Beadle have never been specified
– the Corporation has never regulated the duties of the office.
The Beadle will accompany the Alderman on all formal occasions – where appropriate carrying the Ward’s Mace.

Ward Beadles are elected to the office at the Wardmote as part of the Election process.

Other things

Election Agents
A candidate at a Ward election is required to have an election agent
– can be themselves.

There are no defined criteria but under law certain people would be barred
e.g. convicted or reported for a corrupt or illegal practice.

Must be appointed no later than the latest time for the delivery of notices of withdrawal of candidature.

Duties of election agents include the following;
– Being responsible in law for the proper management of the campaign
– Being conversant with the law governing Ward elections in the City
– To make or authorise payments of “election expenses“
– Taking responsibility for the financial management of the campaign and making the necessary returns
– Attending at polling stations and at the counting of the votes

Election expenses

Are defined as;
Expenses incurred at any time in respect of certain specified matters that are used for the purposes of a candidate’s election, after the date when that person becomes a candidate at the election

e.g. advertising of any nature; unsolicited material addressed to electors; and transport costs

Some matters are excluded from the definition
– accommodation which is the candidate’s sole or main residence
– transport and computing equipment acquired by the candidate principally for the candidate’s own personal use.

Election expenses can be incurred by the candidate, the candidate’s election agent or by any person authorised by either of them to incur expenses

How much ?
The election expenses incurred by a single candidate in a Ward election must not, in aggregate, exceed the maximum amount of £266 together with 5.2p for every elector in the Ward in which the candidate seeks election

Joint Candidates (often referred to as a “slate”
-appoint the same election agent
-share accommodation or other services
-publish a joint election address.

If 2, maximum amount for each candidates is reduced by a 25%.
More than 2 joint candidates the maximum amount for each is reduced by a 33.33%.