Alderman the Lord Mountevans, 688th Lord Mayor of the City of London
Innovation and Resilience
Lord Mountevans (Jeffrey) was Lord Mayor of London from November 2015 to November 2016, the 688th person, and the first hereditary Peer ever, to hold that office. His Lord Mayor’s Show on Saturday 14th November 2015 represented a landmark for the City and the Mayoralty, celebrating 800 years since the first Lord Mayor’s Show and the right, granted by King John in Magna Carta, for the citizens of London to elect their own Lord Mayor, an office which had originated in 1189. The Show followed on the appalling terrorist attacks in Paris the previous evening, occasioning careful thought on behalf of the authorities and organisers during the intervening night whether to cancel. Happily, and rightly, it went ahead and proved a memorable and joyful occasion, though later in the day the traditional fireworks display was cancelled, and Tower Bridge was illuminated in the colours of the French ’Tricolore’ as marks of support and respect for the City of Paris and the victims of the outrage.
The role of Lord Mayor is a unique mix of history and modernity; pageantry and ceremonial; business and civic; charity and community. A great strength of the one year tenure of the Lord Mayor, Jeffrey argues, is the vitality and freshness it brings to the office each year, driving the pace and ambition of the mayoralty and affording the opportunity to ‘showcase’ different strengths in the wide and remarkable offer of the Square Mile.
Lord Mountevans, a career shipbroker, was the first Maritime Lord Mayor for over 40 years and had chaired the government’s ‘Maritime Growth Study: keeping Britain competitive in a global market’ (published September 2015). In his Reflections he will highlight the growing importance and contribution of this major national sector, estimated (2015) directly to support just over £40 billion in business turnover, £14.5 billion in GVA and 185,700 UK employees, and where Britain is a key global player. His choice of Trinity House as the location to present his Reflections is therefore most appropriate. A charity dedicated to safeguarding shipping and seafarers, and providing education, support and welfare to the seafaring community, Trinity House also has a statutory duty as a General Lighthouse Authority to deliver reliable, efficient and cost-effective aids to navigation for the benefit and safety of all mariners. Lord Mountevans’ passion for maritime is also demonstrated in his wish that the charitable proceeds from the night should go to the Sea Cadets, a principal beneficiary of his own Lord Mayor’s Appeal and where he is President of the City of London Sea Cadets based in HMS Belfast.
The biggest element of the mayoralty is business: acting as Ambassador and Spokesman, in the UK and around the world, for “the City”, for financial and related professional services, for the City as a force for good, and as a provider of education and a centre of culture (the City Corporation is the largest promoter of the arts in the UK after the Arts Council, the BBC and the Lottery), for all sectors of the UK economy, for the City itself but also for London and the rest of the UK.
In the theme for his mayoralty ‘Innovate here: Succeed anywhere’ Lord Mountevans highlighted the strong innovative streak so evident in modern Britain. Innovation and Resilience were to be key themes for the year, promoting London and the UK’s fast-growing Fintech and data sectors, as well as other ‘young’ specialisations such as Cyber security and Renminbi trading, and the launch of the Green Finance initiative. The debate preceding the EU Referendum in June 2016, saw the Lord Mayor promoting the view, at home and overseas, widely held by those working in financial and professional services, that Britain was better off ‘in’. The result, not what most in the City had hoped, resulted in additional emphasis on the message that Britain, a global champion of free trade, is very much ‘Open for Business’. In a year when we celebrated the 350th anniversary of the Great Fire of London, its legacy of resilience and adaptability, of the City, of London, and of Britons in general, resonated strongly.
Jeffrey will describe experiences from the exceptionally ‘high octane’ mayoral year, with some 100 days overseas visiting 25 countries on 5 continents (among them China, Japan, Korea, India and Brazil, but also Cuba – days after the Rolling Stones! – and representing the UK government at the Inauguration of the enlarged Panama Canal), as well as hosting numerous Heads of State, Prime Ministers and other dignitaries on inward visits to London, including the State Visit of the President of Colombia, the celebrations for the Queen’s 90th Birthday, and visiting a record 12 regional centres in Britain. Being the 688th Lord Mayor was very well received in China, where the figure ‘8’ is considered to be lucky. This was particularly fortunate at a time when the national leaders were promoting the ‘Golden Age’ of UK-China relations and President Xi was launching the ‘Belt and Road’ initiative, with all this can offer British businesses. He was the first Lord Mayor ever to attend the Commonwealth Business Forum, in fact in the first 10 days of the mayoralty, giving him increased insight into the value and potential of the Commonwealth.
He will discuss the constantly evolving role of the City of London Corporation, including its growing involvement in education and contribution to social mobility, its enhanced capability to support and promote City business, its ambitious programme to build additional homes in London, and plans to develop further the City’s major contribution to the nation’s cultural offer. He will also consider the City’s place in modern Britain and share his vision for the City post Brexit, where he will seek to highlight the opportunities the new landscape provides.