Firms could be forced to vote in City of London Corporation elections

Only 3,304 businesses have appointed voters to represent them in the elections, out of a possible 7,441

Businesses based in the City could be legally bound to vote in local elections under efforts to improve democracy in the Square Mile. 

A review into the City of London Corporation, the governing body of the Square Mile, has recommended exploring the idea of making “effective participation” in the electoral process a condition of Corporation leases for employer tenants. 

The Corporation is a significant commercial landlord in the area, owning premises including the historic Leadenhall Market. 

As governing body, it both provides the standard services of a local authority and has a major role representing the City on the global stage and supporting financial services. 

Elections are held to pick representatives to its Court of Alderman and Court of Common Council, with businesses in the area allowed to vote as well as local residents.

However, only 3,304 businesses have appointed voters to represent them in the elections, out of a possible 7,441, leading to efforts to try to encourage participation so that the Corporation is more representative. 

As part of a recent major review into the Corporation’s structure, Lord Lisvane said that while the Corporation made efforts to contact employers to encourage them to take part in elections, “it may be that more could be done in this respect”.

He added: “It has been suggested to me that effective participation could be made a condition of Corporation leases on premises occupied by employers, and this would be worth following up when occasion offers.”

A Corporation spokesman  said the report contained far-reaching recommendations and elected members would now consider whether they should be taken forward.

It plans to run a high-profile campaign ahead of the next elections in 2022, encouraging both businesses and residents to vote, and will also contact City firms directly.

The spokesman added: “We are committed to driving up participation in City Corporation elections and to increasing diversity among those who stand, and we recognise there is work to do in these areas.”