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Lord Mayor of London- the 682nd A YEAR IN THE LIFE OF..

Gillian Laidlaw finds out from last year’s Lord Mayor, Barbican resident Nick Anstee, what was involved, and how he and his family coped with the pomp, ceremonial duties and overseas visits as an Ambassador for British business and the City of London


t about 3.03pm on 12th November 2010 Nick Anstee, Alderman for Aldersgate Ward and Barbican resident,

completed his year as the 682nd Lord Mayor of London. He clearly enjoyed every minute of his role as Ambassador for London’s and Britain’s business and financial services. Of his 280 working days as Lord Mayor he spent 90 of them out of Britain visiting 43 cities in 23 countries talking to prime ministers, presidents, bankers and business leaders. The events covered everything from state banquets to breakfast meetings and press conferences to co-hosting CNBC’s television show, Strictly Money. He also had to squeeze in time for his charitable activities, his regular five mile run and being head of the City of London Corporation.

Nick was elected as a Common Councillor for Aldersgate Ward in 1987, as Alderman in 1996, and became Sheriff in 2003/4. He thanked the electors of Aldersgate Ward for making his path to Lord Mayor possible. During his 23 years in the Corporation of London he has also served on many key committees which informed his role as Head of the Corporation. Although he was very busy in his ambassadorial role he also found time as Lord Mayor to lobby for Drop-In Health Centres and safer, more responsible cycling in the City. He said it is up to each Lord Mayor to make and define the year of office. It is also important that they are familiar with the workings of financial services and the City. His background is as a chartered accountant with many years’ experience working in and with financial and City firms. He became

Lord Mayor in November 2009 when the mood in the country was very anti banker. During his speech at the Lord Mayor’s Banquet he felt it was important to talk both to and from the City, not just to be the City’s shop steward. One of his first acts was to bring together representatives from ten major City institutions, who had never been together before as a group, so that they could develop a common position on the issues which they faced. He wanted to ensure that the government recognised the importance of financial services to the British economy and to differentiate between the three retail banks which had had to receive government support and the 300 foreign banks represented in London, which is more than those in Frankfurt, Paris, and New York combined. Nick said, “Foreigners are amazed at our banker bashing” and to reinforce his point he explained that banks are responsible for 12.1% of national tax revenues which equates to 47% of the money spent on health care, 75% of the education budget, 150% of defence and around 140% of the interest charged on the national debt. It is an important industry which is a major contributor to the Exchequer. But Nick did admit, “There is no electoral gain in supporting bankers.”

Each year of office requires months of preparation. 35 people run Mansion House of whom 15 are in the private office of the Lord Mayor. The Lord Mayor’s intensive programme of overseas visits and events is initiated by suggestions from the UK Department for Trade and Investment. They identify priority countries to visit and those companies and individuals from the UK who should be involved.

A committee puts together an overall programme for discussion with the incoming Lord Mayor who can influence its shape and content. The programme itself is executed by the Mansion House team. As early as March the incoming Lord Mayor also has to decide who will be invited to the various banquets during the year. Everything has to be underway before the new Lord Mayor has been formally elected; that does not take place until September.

A few days before Nick and his wife Claire became Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress, their clothes and personal possessions were delivered to Mansion House. When they entered the House for the first time in their


Nick and Claire Anstee

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