Longest-serving Lord Mayor of Westminster stands down after record-breaking term

By Jacob Phillips, local democracy reporter

The longest-serving Lord Mayor of Westminster has stood down as a new mayor is elected.

Despite a record-breaking term as mayor Jonathan Glanz only donned his robes a handful of times.

The councillor was forced to swap state visits from high profile politicians and ceremonies at Westminster Abbey for Zoom meetings about vaccinations and social distancing in a term dominated by the pandemic.

In a normal year, the mayor will host 1,200 receptions in their suite (1,600 in a busy year) but Jonathan only ever got to use the private space just six times in a record 15 months in office.

Had the pandemic not occurred he would have been hosting guests in the space at least three times a day.

Reflecting on his historic 15-month term, mayors are usually changed every 12 months, Jonathan said: “You had to do what the unprecedented times demanded.

“Whenever I did take Zoom meetings I kept on my chain of office. It’s great but for the wrong reasons. I hope that nobody else faces the same challenges.”

It is no easy feat to become one of Central London’s most important public figures.

Jonathan Glanz in his Lord Mayor robes at Churchill Gardens Summer Fete with the Lady Mayoress

Westminster councillors must pass a selection committee and be approved by with cross-party support before appearing in front of a full council.

Once all those boxes have been ticked, the new mayor becomes the “first citizen of London”.

This effectively makes them the third most important Londoner, apart from a member of the Royal Family and Lord Lieutenant of London, according to tradition.

The mayor also plays a huge role in Westminster City Council and chairs all full council meetings.

Jonathan added: “It’s been a great honour to do but it’s very different really to being a councillor.

“You could be entertaining a state visit and the next day you will be chatting to kids about what they are doing in their writing classes.

“You have the opportunity to represent Westminster. It may be 8.5 [square] miles of Central London but it’s the most important square miles.”

Jonathan has only chaired one meeting in person allowing him to don his regal blue and gold robes rarely. He was kept apart from his robes for significant periods as they were locked away during the lockdown months.

The politician was even appointed virtually.

Following his time in ceremonial office, Jonathan will return to his work as a West End councillor, a job he has done since 2009.

There he will face a range of challenges from decreased footfall, noisy pedicabs and the hotly debated al fresco dining.

Speaking about his ward Jonathan said: “We are in a process of recovery. Not everybody is back in the office.

“It’s going to take time, I’m glad to see pubs and nightclubs open again.

“The West End is a playground for many people who walk away at 2 or 3 am and don’t care but for other people, it’s home.

“That challenge is always going to be with us. We are the centre of a big international city.”

Following the election of councillor Andrew Smith as the new mayor at Westminster City Council’s full council meeting on Thursday September 9, Jonathan is now free to focus all his energy on the West End.

But before he returns to council duties Jonathan has been able to find some respite.

The first thing he did once he’d finished celebrating the appointment of his successor was water his garden.

Speaking as the new Lord Mayor of Westminster Andrew said: “I am delighted to be taking on the role as Lord Mayor and look forward to promoting the many great things that Westminster has to offer.

“This will be an important year in shaping the future of our city and strengthening our communities. I am confident that Westminster will bounce back, and we will see the emergence of an even better, greener, more innovative city for all.”

“Support for young people is important in ensuring the city’s recovery. This is why I have selected Westminster Befriend a Family to be my chosen charity, and I look forward to championing their mission throughout my term and beyond.”

 


 

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