It has been a busy few days since starting as the 689th lord mayor. After my swearing in at the ancient Silent Ceremony on Friday came the world’s biggest and oldest street pageant: the Lord Mayor’s Show.
Since 1215, every newly-elected lord mayor has travelled through the City of London to Westminster to swear loyalty to the Crown. Over the centuries, this journey has become a much loved fixture in the national cultural calendar, with hundreds of thousands of people lining the streets and millions more watching on TV. The rain certainly didn’t deter anyone.
It’s a historic tradition – 801 years old – but it continues to attract people from all walks of life. They come from all over the world to watch this classic piece of British pageantry, and this year I was especially pleased that Blackpool – my adopted home town – took part with a Blackpool Tower float.
My family and I are privileged to have been part of a procession of over 6,500 people, including 180 horses, 164 vehicles, jazz bands, steam engines, fire engines, pea harvesters, sports cars, tractors and a tank. I am especially pleased that a huge number of London’s community groups, school children and civic organisations took part as they really showcase the diversity of this city.
Now that I am in office, I will be working hard to promote the City and all that it has to offer. I have three main goals for my year which I believe to be crucial in making sure the City continues to be the world-leading place to do business it currently is.
First, I will be working to promote the UK’s world-leading offer in financial and professional services. The City is the world’s greatest financial centre, boasting an unprecedented clustering of expertise, and the UK’s regional centres of excellence such as Leeds, Edinburgh and Bristol complement London’s exceptional offer very well. I will be speaking about this during my trips to a planned 29 key international markets.
Second, as a teacher, I will be highlighting the need for City firms to open up more apprenticeships for talented young people, and promoting the importance of a top quality education. One of the many reasons London’s financial and professional services offer is so unmatched is because of the talented people who live and work here. We must ensure that we maintain this world-leading talent pool by investing in the City’s future workforce.
Finally I will be working to promote London’s cultural offer. One of the reasons that I am optimistic that the City will maintain its position as the world’s most important financial centre is because people like living and working here. London is a dynamic and alive city, with countless museums, galleries, theatres, and music venues that attract the world’s great treasures and performers.
The capital is the world’s greatest city, and the City of London is its beating economic and cultural heart. I will work tirelessly over the next year to show that the City is not simply a bastion for bankers, but a place welcoming of people from all backgrounds and professions, as well as a great place to do business.