Agenda and minutes
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Procedural Motion - Conduct of Business
Before consideration of the formal agenda, the Mayor advised that as this had been scheduled as the budget setting meeting he would be inviting Councillor Kabir (as Majority Group Chief Whip) to move a procedural motion, in accordance with Standing Orders, relating to the conduct of the debate on the budget report and also on a petition where the request for a Council debate had been received.
RESOLVED that the following procedural motion moved by Councillor Kabir, be agreed:
(1) Debate on the Budget and Council Tax 2018-19
1.1 That the Leader of the Council be permitted to speak for up to 15 minutes in presenting the report on the 2018-19 Budget and Council Tax to the meeting, setting out the Cabinet’s proposals for the Budget, after which, the following arrangements be confirmed for the purpose of debating and voting upon the Budget and Council Tax 2018-19:
(a) The Leader of the Brent Conservative Group be permitted to speak for up to 15 minutes.
(b) The Deputy Leader of the Council be permitted to speak for up to 10 minutes.
(c) The Chair of the Resources and Public Realm Scrutiny Committee be permitted to speak for up to 10 minutes.
(d) A general debate follow during which the usual rules for debate would apply as set out in Standing Orders save as set out in this procedural motion.
1.2 At the end of the general debate, the Leader of the Council be permitted to speak for up to 5 minutes to submit his closing remarks.
1.3 Following the close of the debate, voting on each Group’s budget proposals be taken en bloc.
(2) Petition: College Green Open Space
2.1 The lead petitioner be allowed to address full Council for a maximum of 5 minutes.
2.2 A maximum of one speaker from each Group be allowed to speak on the petition for up to three minutes before the relevant Lead Member responded, also with a maximum of three minutes.
Apologies for Absence
To receive any apologies for absence notified by Members.
The Mayor advised that direct apologies for absence had been received from Councillors Allie, Crane, Davidson, Denselow, Hoda-Benn, Hossain, Jones, Mashari, Joshua Mitchell Murray, Pavey, Shaw and Southwood.
To confirm as a correct record, the attached minutes of the previous meeting of the Council held on Monday 22 January 2018.
RESOLVED that the minutes of the meeting held on Monday 22 January 2018 be approved as an accurate record of the meeting.
3.2 Matters Arising
(a) Min.1: Mayor Statement – Order of Business (Asbestos Paddington Old Cemetery)
The Mayor advised that as a matter arising (Min. 1 – Mayor Statement: Order of Business) he wished to make a statement regarding the concerns raised about asbestos in Paddington Old Cemetery and action which had been taken since the last Council meeting. Members were advised of the following actions:
· The holding of a public meeting; and
· Further tests having been undertaken which the Mayor informed Members had shown the amount of asbestos to be below the scientific detection level and at the same level that may be found in any garden across London.
The Mayor relayed that experts had therefore confirmed there was no risk to anyone visiting the cemetery and the Council had also committed to undertake tests on the grounds of the neighbouring school. By way of assurance, Members were advised that the levels of asbestos recorded were 0.001% and were therefore no cause for concern.
In response to the statement provided, Councillor Duffy advised he had also written to officers seeking a response on a number of associated questions in relation to compensation. The Mayor advised that the issues raised would be responded to outside of the Council meeting.
(b) Motion from Brent Conservative Group – London Taxicard Scheme
Councillor Hirani updated Members on the recent confirmation received from the Mayor for London that he would not be seeking a reduction in the funding for the Taxi Card scheme, which he felt highlighted the premature nature of the original motion submitted by the Brent Conservative Group.
Declarations of Interest
Members are invited to declare at this stage of the meeting, the existence and nature of any relevant disclosable pecuniary, personal or prejudicial interests in the items on this agenda and to specify the item(s) to which they relate.
The Mayor invited Members to declare any personal, prejudicial or disclosable pecuniary interests in relation to matters due to be considered at the meeting, in accordance with the Members Code of Conduct.
(a) Councillor Nerva declared a personal interest in respect of Agenda Item 6 (Budget and Council Tax 2018/19) as a leaseholder within the borough.
(b) Councillor Kabir declared a personal interest in respect of Agenda Item 6 (Budget & Council Tax 2018/19) as a Trustee of CVS Brent.
To receive any announcements from the Mayor.
The Mayor made the following announcements:
(i) Teachers Award
The Mayor was delighted to announce that Andria Zafirakou, an arts and textiles teacher from Alperton Community School, had been shortlisted as a top 10 finalist in the Varkey Foundation's Global Teacher Prize competition the winner of which would receive a prize of $1million.
He reported that Andria had joined nine teachers from around the world in making the final list, which recognised teachers for their work in helping those from disadvantaged backgrounds succeed against the odds. He wished her every success in the final awards.
(ii) 100th Year Birthday Celebration
The Mayor advised he was pleased to be able to announce that a Brent resident, Mary Brennan, had recently celebrated her 100th birthday. Mary currently lived in a residential care home in Kingsbury and as well as her family had been joined by the Deputy Mayor to celebrate this milestone.
(iii) Mayors Fundraising Event
Whilst highlighting how quickly the Civic year appeared to have passed, the Mayor reminded Members that his final fundraising event would be taking place on Friday 13 April 2018. The event would be taking place at Sattavis Padtidar Centre, Forty Lane and he hoped as many Members as possible would be able to attend.
(iv) Royal Visit
The Mayor took the opportunity to highlight a recent royal visit to the Roundwood Youth Centre by HRH Prince Harry. The prince had undertaken a tour of the centre and had been able to participate in its Fit and Fed half-term programme. He had witnessed how the scheme was able to provide children and young people with free activities and a nutritious lunch during school holidays.
In addition the prince had met young volunteers and coaches from Sport at the Heart, a community sport and wellbeing charity who were also part of the campaign and had taken part in an exercise session with the children, as well a game of hockey.
(v) Brent School Achievements
The Mayor advised he was delighted to be able to announce that the latest school performance tables figures, released by the Department for Education, had shown that Brent was the second highest performing local authority for the government's Progress 8 measure.
Within the figures provided, he was also extremely pleased to be able to report that Wembley High Technology College’s progress measure had rated them the second highest performing school in the country.
Members joined the Mayor in congratulating all pupils, staff, parents and carers involved in these achievements.
(vi) Rabbi Herman Martyn
It was with sadness that the Mayor referred to the recent passing of Rabbi Herman Martyn, aged 86.
The Mayor advised Members that Rabbi Martyn had given a great deal of time and energy to support pupils in Brent and had been a long standing member of the School Forum. He reported that Rabbi Martyn had received a Brent Community Champions Award from Brent Council in 2008 in recognition of his contribution to education in the ... view the full minutes text for item 5.
Following on from his announcements, the Mayor referred Members to the list of petitions received which included details of a petition objecting to the erection of a fence across College Green Open Space, which at the time of publication had gathered 277 signatures. He advised Members that under the Council’s Petition Scheme the lead petitioner (Mr Jim Hogan) had requested that his petition be referred on to Council for debate, which the Mayor informed Members he was proposing to deal with at this stage in the meeting.
The Mayor therefore welcomed Mr Hogan to the meeting and invited him to present his petition.
Mr Hogan began by thanking Members for allowing him to address the meeting and advised that the current number of signatures his petition now contained was above 300. By way of background, he informed Members that College Green which was located in Kensal Rise, had been established as an open space for over 100 years and was well used by local residents and a local scout group. As a means of further protecting the area from residential development local residents had established the College Green Preservation Society in 1988 and had also supported the location of a Nursery School within the boundary of the open space although the open space was not part of the nursery site.
Despite objections from local residents, a fence had recently been erected across the open space as part of the Nursery School site and he advised residents were now concerned that their access and view across the open space would be further limited as a result of any wider perimeter screen being planned. Members were advised that attempts had previously been made to erect screening around the Nursery site in November 2017 which had subsequently been removed as a result of objections raised by local residents and the scouts group.
Mr Hogan felt it was important to highlight the importance of the open space to the character of the area and well-being of local residents as well as in terms of the limited number of similar sites across the borough and was therefore seeking the support of the Council in terms of maintaining access and preventing the erection of any further perimeter fencing relating to the Nursery School site. Reference was made to the covenant established at the time the land was handed over by All Souls College Oxford as an open space, recognising the rights of neighbouring properties and stating that the land could not be used in any way to cause nuisance or grievance to those properties. In addition concerns had been raised regarding the impact that any additional perimeter fencing may have from a planning perspective in relation to sightlines, traffic safety, loss of outlook and character and on the site in terms of its protected open space status and in terms of nature conservation.
Members were advised that the representatives from the Nursery had not been willing to meet local residents in order to discuss their concerns, ... view the full minutes text for item 6.
Appointments to Committees and Outside Bodies and Appointment of Chairs/Vice Chairs (if any)
To agree any appointments to Committees and Outside Bodies (if any) in accordance with Standing Order 30 (g).
The Mayor advised that there had been no changes in appointments notified for consideration at the meeting.
To consider the Council’s budget and level of Council Tax for 2018-19.
Members are asked to note that the recommendations in the report were approved for reference on to Council by Cabinet on 12 February 2018.
The Council received a report from the Chief Finance Officer setting out the Council’s budget proposals for 2018/19 along with an update on the medium term budget outlook.
In accordance with the procedural motion agreed at the start of the meeting, the Mayor invited Councillor Butt to present the report setting out the budget and Council Tax proposals for 2018-19.
Councillor Butt began by taking the opportunity to thank the following councillors from his group not standing in the May 2018 local election for their hard work and dedication in serving their local residents and the borough during their time as councillors:
Councillors Bradley, Harrison, Hossain, Hoda-Benn, Stopp, Khan, Thomas, Eniola, Pitruzella, Collier and Moher
The Council joined him in thanking and wishing all retiring councillors best wishes.
Moving on to then focus on the budget proposals, the Leader advised that this represented the final budget of the current Administration and had been delivered against a period of ongoing austerity. The Council had once again, with prudent management of its limited resources been able to recommend a balanced budget which offered the maximum protection to those most in need of support. He pointed out, however, that this had not been easy to achieve, with the Council and public sector in general continuing to be hit hard by reductions in Government funding and the accompanying need to manage resulting deficits. For some the pressure had been too great, with the recent examples of Northampton and Surrey County Council referred to. Whilst it may have been possible for these pressures to have been dealt with differently, the Leader felt the underlying problem had been caused by the Government’s austerity programme and way in which they had chosen to fund public services.
He hoped that the difficulties being experienced in Conservative as well as other local authorities would now force the Government to reconsider their approach towards the funding of public services given the impact from their ongoing programme of austerity.
Within Brent the Council would continue its balanced approach towards the management of its finances but Councillor Butt pointed out this would be with £177m less to invest in essential services than in 2010 and with serious funding challenges also being faced by other partners in Brent, with the following examples highlighted:
· Schools having lost £600 funding per pupil which equated to an entire academic years funding;
· Police having to manage with 80 less front line officers;
· NHS services in Brent being some of the most unfunded in London due to the current level of deficit
Looking forward, Councillor Butt highlighted that the position was not expected to get any easier with the Council facing an additional £50m worth of Government imposed austerity budget reductions over the next four years. Whilst not a barrier to the Council’s ongoing efforts to deliver services he felt it was important to recognise the impact given the serious nature of ongoing challenges faced by the Council and other public service partners in ... view the full minutes text for item 8.
To consider the attached report, which reviews and recommends the allowances Members will be entitled to receive for carrying out their responsibilities for the 2018/19 financial year.
Councillor Butt introduced the report from the Director of Legal and HR Services which sought approval to the making of a Members’ Allowance Scheme, in the proposed terms, as set out in the report, for the 2018/19 Financial Year.
Councillor Butt highlighted that the report included details of the recent review of Members Allowances undertaken by an Independent Remuneration Panel, which had been established by London Councils on behalf of London Boroughs. Whilst recommending some changes to the scheme as it currently operated, it was also being recommended that a more detailed review be undertaken following the local elections in May 2018 in order to reflect any constitutional changes to the Council’s political management arrangements with the outcome of that review to be reported back to the Annual Council meeting.
As there were no other members who indicted they wanted to speak on the report the Mayor put the recommendations to the vote by a show of hands and they were declared CARRIED
(1) To make the Members’ Allowances Scheme in the proposed terms set out in the report, for the 2018/19 financial year.
(2) To authorise the Director of Legal and HR Services to comply with the statutory requirements to publicise the Council’s Members’ Allowance Scheme.
(3) To note that a more detailed review of the Members’ Allowance Scheme will be undertaken following the local elections in May 2018 in order to reflect any constitutional changes to the Council’s political management arrangements with the outcome of the review being reported back to the Annual Council meeting in May 2018.
At the discretion of the Mayor to consider any urgent business, in accordance with Standing Order 30 (r).
The Mayor advised Members there were no urgent items of business for consideration.
As this was the final Council business meeting of his year in office, the Mayor ended by thanking all Members for their support and co-operation over the last year and advised that the next meeting would be the Annual Council and Mayor Making ceremony on Monday 14 May 2018.
The meeting then ended at 9.18pm