Agenda and minutes
Monday 24 January 2011 7.00 pm
Venue: Council Chamber, Brent Town Hall, Forty Lane, Wembley, HA9 9HD
Contact: Peter Goss, Democratic Services Manager 020 8937 1351, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
that the minutes of the previous meeting held on 22 November 2010 be approved as an accurate record of the meeting.
Declarations of personal and prejudicial interests
Members are invited to declare at this stage of the meeting, any relevant financial or other interest in the items on this agenda.
Councillor Powney declared an interest in item 5 by virtue of being a member of the West London Waste Authority.
The Mayor reported with sadness that since the last Full Council meeting the borough’s longest serving councillor, Arthur Steel had passed away in St Luke’s hospice on 1 January 2011. The Mayor welcomed Mrs Alda Steel and other members of Arthur Steel’s family, who were present at the meeting and offered the Council’s condolences during a difficult time for them.
The Mayor also reported with sadness that Mr Ray Lorenzato passed away in November last year after over 15 years association with the Council. He had served as a co-opted member representing the Roman Catholic faith on various education related council committees.
The Mayor was sorry to further announce the death of Jayaben Desai in December 2010. Ms Desai was a local resident and a fearless campaigner who was renowned for her role in the Grunwick dispute during the 1970s.
The Mayor was pleased to announce that the Council’s entry in the New Year’s Day Parade had won 2nd place winning £6,000 towards his charity appeal. He thanked Eileen Sabur who organised the float and all those who took the time to participate and attend the parade which had been a huge success in its 25th year.
The Mayor drew attention to the list of current petitions showing progress on dealing with them which had been circulated around the chamber.
The Council stood in silence for one minute in memory of Arthur Steel.
Members of the Council paid tribute to the life and work of Arthur Steel.
Appointments to committees and outside bodies and appointment of chairs/vice chairs
that the following appointments be made:
Councillor Moloney moved a procedural motion proposing a change in the order of business.
that the order of business listed on the summons be amended to allow for Item 8 - Discussion on the new civic centre - to be brought forward as the next item for discussion, after which the order shall be as listed on the summons.
Debate - Civic Centre Project
To debate key developments affecting the Borough. The development to be discussed at this meeting is the building of the new civic centre. Representatives of the contractor, Skanska, will make a presentation.
The Mayor welcomed representatives of Skanska to the meeting. Representing the Skanska civic centre project team were John Crawley (Operations Director), Bill Brock (Project Director), James McKenzie-Boyle (Community Liaison) and David Selby (Hopkins Architects).
John Crawley opened the presentation by outlining the aspirations for the civic centre project. The aim was to provide a new civic headquarters that would be at the centre of the community and a beacon of sustainability. It was intended that it would be the first public building to achieve an outstanding BREEAM rating. It was explained later in the discussion that BREEAM stood for Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method and was the leading and most widely used environmental assessment method used to measure the sustainability of new non-domestic buildings in the UK. The project would also seek to promote the diversity of the borough and blur the boundaries between the public and private space. John Crawley gave a brief introduction to Skanska the company, including reference to its vision to be the leading green project developer and contractor. Bill Brock named the rest of the civic centre project team. He then provided an overview of the scheme. The building would comprise nine storeys, set over 2.5 hectares. The project had a planned duration of 108 weeks with handover due in December 2012. Occupation was planned for mid 2013 and would accommodate up to 2000 staff and councillors. The public area functions of the building would include a multipurpose foyer with exhibition space, meeting and conference rooms, a state of the art library and resource centre and the registrar’s service. The democratic function would be served by mayoral and members’ accommodation, a multi functional civic hall and committee rooms. The Council’s administrative functions would be served by providing flexible office space, meeting rooms, a training suite and breakout space. Bill Brock outlined the key stages of the project, beginning with the ground breaking ceremony to be held on 26 January 2011. James McKenzie-Boyle presented the company’s community action plan which included opportunities for local business and local employment, training initiatives and engagement with schools and voluntary projects. This activity would be undertaken working with the Council’s Regeneration and Major Projects Department. There was a Brent business event planned for 15 February to which over 400 local companies had been invited. Members then viewed a computer generated presentation of how the construction of the civic centre might look.
Councillor John responded to the presentation on behalf of the Executive and the Council. She thanked the representatives from Skanska for their presentation and particularly the presentation of the construction. She stated that there were many buildings of special interest in the borough and it was certain that the new civic centre would be another one. Councillor John reported that she had attended most of the area consultative forums at which the Council's budget was discussed and the same question was asked at all of them regarding how the Council could afford to build a new civic centre ... view the full minutes text for item 6.
To receive reports from the Leader or members of the Executive in accordance with Standing Order 42.
Comprehensive Spending Review
Councillor John stated that when Labour was in opposition on the Council, the administration often claimed it did not have enough to spend but now the Council had received the worst ever financial settlement from the Government. Despite this £40m had been gained by joining with Sarah Teather, MP in making representations to the Secretary of State for Education for continued funding of the Crest academies.
Councillor Powney pointed out that the Council’s consultation on the Libraries Transformation Project would extend to 4 March after which the results would be reported to the Executive on 11 April 2011.
Area Consultative Forums
Councillor Jones reported that people were attending the current round of forums in large numbers to hear from the Leader of the Council about the cuts faced by the Council. Many had expressed their shock at the scale of the cuts to the Council’s budget.
Adult social care review
Councillor R Moher reported that the Executive had recently noted the outcome of the Care Quality Commission’s visit which had found the Council’s adult social care services continuing to provide an improving service despite the challenges it faced.
Household waste collection consultation
Councillor Powney reported that consultation on the Council’s household waste collection strategy had now been completed and the Executive had agreed to implement the strategy largely unchanged which he expected would not only achieve substantial savings but also lead to an improved service.
Quintain ‘North West Lands – Wembley’ planning application
Councillor Crane invited members to join him in welcoming the news that a planning application had been submitted for the ‘North West Lands’ covering approximately 14 acres and including 1300 new residencies, 30 shops, a new road, a car park for 800 cars and new open space. It was anticipated that in partnership with Wembley Works, this would lead to the provision of many new jobs. Councillor Crane added that the proposals were in accordance with the Wembley Master Plan, would provide additional much needed housing and enhance the area to be occupied by the new civic centre.
Questions from the Opposition and other Non Executive Members
Questions will be put to the Executive
Councillor Brown asked why the Executive considered it acceptable to charge pensioners, those on benefits and everyone else £95 to deal with the problem of rats, while spending £400,000 a year removing the bulky waste charge of just £25 which was only ever paid by those who could afford to, with pensioners and those on benefits getting it free. Councillor Powney replied that the financial position facing the Council meant that it was forced to raise charges. He added that very often the Council was called upon to deal with a rat problem when in fact it was mice and so there was also an operational reason for making the charge. Councillor Powney stated that the charge of £25 for the removal of bulky waste led to more fly tipping and so was counterproductive. Councillor Brown responded that it was a disgrace that the Executive was not committed to cleaning up the borough as evidenced by the £12m savings being made from the street cleansing and waste collection services. He again questioned how the Executive could justify charging the less well off for dealing with the removal of rats.
Councillor Lorber asked if the Executive would support the campaign to save Kensal Rise library. Councillor Powney replied that it would be wrong to speculate on the future of the library before the public consultation was completed. The Executive in April would be making a decision. Councillor Lorber referred to a document produced by consultants in 2004 advising the then Labour administration on the closure of libraries. He then referred to the refurbished libraries at Preston and Neasden which were now faced with closure. Councillor Lorber claimed that people were only talked to by the Council and were not allowed to comment. He contrasted this with the 2008/12 library strategy produced by the last administration which outlined a commitment to the library service. He added that the proposals were destroying the principle that libraries should be local facilities.
Councillor Colwill stated that he had asked for certain streets to be cleaned of the paan spitting residue only to be told that the Council had stopped using the machine that had been in operation to deal with this. He asked why this was when if anything the cleaning operation needed to be extended to street railings. Councillor Colwill also said that he had noticed many young people smoking in shisha bars which he claimed was equivalent to heavy cigarette smoking. Councillor John agreed that paan spitting was disgusting and noted that it was predominantly a male habit. She agreed it needed cleaning up and urged that people were asked to stop doing it. Regarding smoking in shisha bars, Councillor John replied that she was not aware of the degree to which it could be compared to cigarette smoking and suggested that overview and scrutiny might want to look into the issue.
Councillor Hunter stated that in the final draft of the Brent Placemaking Guide, due to be published in March, it said ... view the full minutes text for item 8.
Reports from the Chairs of Overview and Scrutiny Committees
To receive reports from the Chairs of the Overview and Scrutiny Committees in accordance with Standing Order 41.
Councillor Van Kalwala reported on the work of overview and scrutiny since the last meeting of Council. He stated that all the overview and scrutiny committees had met at least once since the last such report.
The Budget and Finance Overview and Scrutiny Committee had met twice and taken evidence on:
· The council’s capital budget
· The projected impact on the council of changes to Housing Benefit
· The emerging draft budget
· Departmental overspends
One of the committee’s main roles was to produce a report and recommendations based on the evidence it had received. The first stage of this report – the First Interim Report had been finalised and sent to Executive members with the aim of influencing the development of the draft budget. The report had also been sent to all members as a source of information. At its next meeting on 9 February 2011, the committee would receive the Executive’s draft budget and all members of the Council were encouraged to attend. The committee would then send its views to the Executive’s budget meeting.
Councillor Van Kalwala referred to the the last meeting the Health Partnership Overview and Scrutiny Committee which heard from the North West Hospital Trust on ‘We Care’ Patients experience programme – an initiative designed to ensure a positive patient experience. Following concerns raised at the committee’s October meeting members received an update on Brent Community Services. As part of the update the Chief Executive of NHS Brent proposed a number of ideas aimed at dealing with these concerns. A report on the application for GP commissioning pathfinder status was also submitted. Although not successful in the first wave of applications the submission would be improved and resubmitted. The Fuel Poverty Task Group had completed its work and would be reporting to the next meeting of the Committee. The task group recommendations would focus on fuel poverty services in Brent, income maximisation, grant funding, energy efficiency and working with landlords.
The main focus of the One Council Overview and Scrutiny Committee’s December meeting was to scrutinise the Direct Services Transformation project proposals prior to them being discussed by the Executive. Councillor Van Kalwala reported that a number of carers attended and were provided with an opportunity to address members. The committee’s two recommendations were forwarded to the Executive, one of which was agreed. The committee had also received the Council’s annual complaints report and an update on the Carbon Management Programme. This committee now regularly receives an update on the One Council Programme which provides outline information on each of the projects including their status and timescales. This enables the committee to select projects to review in more depth. The car repair and spray painting task group had received evidence from Street Care and Environmental Health. It would be taking evidence from the Legal and Planning services and undertaking site visits in early February.
Councillor Van Kalwala informed members that the Children and Young People Overview and Scrutiny Committee spent some time focusing on the primary school ... view the full minutes text for item 9.
This report details treasury management activity for 2010/11.
The 2009 CIPFA Revised Code of Practice for Treasury Management established that the Council should receive a mid-year report on treasury management activity as part of the effort to improve scrutiny and transparency and the report before Council provided this.
that the 2010 Treasury Mid Year report be noted.
Stonebridge and Strathcona Day Centres
Councillor HB Patel moved the motion circulated in his name which deplored the decision of the Executive to close Stonebridge and Strathcona Day Centres against the wishes of the service users and carers. It asked that the Executive reconsider its decision and stop making excuses for closing adult social care day centres. Councillor Patel stated that despite the clear views expressed during the consultation exercise in support of retaining building based services the decision had been made on the basis of making improvements to the service when in fact it had been made to save money.
Councillor R Moher felt it was misleading to raise the item now as if the decision was a surprise when the matter had been under consideration for some three years. She stated that it was much better to offer direct personalised services that gave the users options than provide services at run down day centres. She accepted that some users would continue to need day centre care and this would be provided from suitable buildings and not run down premises that the Council could not afford to repair.
Councillor Hunter supported the motion. She felt that the people consulted had not been listened to. Whilst supporting the personalisation of services, she felt the day centres needed to be kept open longer in order to prepare people for the transition.
Following a vote the motion was declared LOST.
Protecting Supporting People funding
Councillor Allie moved the motion circulated in his name which welcomed the removal of ring fencing for much of the Council’s funding, noted the important services that Supporting People funding provided and sought the Council’s support in calling on the Executive to ensure that funding for Supporting People schemes was protected. He stated that such an assurance would demonstrate the Council’s commitment to protecting the most vulnerable people in the borough. It would also reassure those housing associations who were unsure about the future and felt that most councils wanted to abolish supported people teams.
Councillor Thomas referred to the £37m of cuts the Council had to make. Although there was no suggestion that the Council was cutting the Supporting People budget it would have to look for savings to be made whilst continuing to provide the service. Councillor Thomas stated that at this stage he could give no guarantees.
Following a vote the motion was declared LOST.
Save Brent Libraries
Councillor Lorber moved the motion circulated in his name which sought to note that the Liberal Democrats in 2006 scrapped plans to close libraries, believed that a local library was an important community asset and calling on the Executive not to close six libraries.
Following a vote the motion was declared LOST.
Councillor Butt moved the motion circulated in his name. He stated that the Government announcements meant that the council was going to have to make £100m of cuts. He added that there would be painful decisions that would have to be taken but ... view the full minutes text for item 11.
This report seeks approval to the level of contribution Brent will make to the London Councils Grant Scheme in 2011/12 following London Councils proposals to reduce the contributions all councils make to the scheme.
The Mayor submitted that the report before Council, which had been circulated late to members, was urgent because London Councils had requested a response before 1February 2011 and indicated that later responses would not be accepted.
Councillor R Moher introduced the report which informed members of the proposed level of contribution the Council was being asked to make to the London Councils Grant Scheme in 2011/12.
Councillor Beck moved an amendment that sought to delete the recommendations included in the report and instead asked members to note the findings of the Equalities Impact Assessment, the economies of scale achieved by London boroughs commissioning together and that ending commissions before their natural end was a breach of trust that could cause harm to those organisations. It therefore sought not to approve the proposals to reduce the Council’s contribution and to ring fence the £498,705 for the voluntary sector until a review had been completed.
In response to the proposed amendment, Councillor John explained the history to the subject and reminded members of the £37m saving the Council had to make. She stated that the voluntary sector was aware of the effects of taking the decisions proposed but the Council could give no guarantees on final decisions to be taken regarding funding.
The view was expressed that many of the funded organisations provided pan London services but the proposals were being driven by a few boroughs who did not support these services which in turn undermined achieving the two thirds agreement of all London boroughs needed. However, another view expressed was that many of the organisations were not known in Brent and it would be better to get the money to ensure it was spent for the benefit of the borough.
The amendment was put to the vote and declared LOST.
(i) that the contribution recommended by London Councils to
the grant scheme for 2011/12 be accepted and notified to London Councils by 31January 2010;
(ii) to note that the contribution of £436,346 in 2011/12 is a reduction of £498,705;
(iii) that a review of the funding of affected organisations be carried out to identify recommended criteria for applying for future funding should the Council wish to reinvest any or all of the £498,705 back into the voluntary sector.