Agenda, decisions and minutes
Monday 26 November 2018 6.00 pm
Venue: Conference Hall - Brent Civic Centre, Engineers Way, Wembley, HA9 0FJ. View directions
Contact: Thomas Cattermole, Head of Executive and Member Services 020 8937 5446, Email: email@example.com
Webcast: View the webcast
Apologies for Absence
To receive any apologies for absence from Members of the Council.
Apologies received from Councillors Afzal, M.Butt, Colacicco, Conneely, Crane, Denselow, Ezeajughi and Lo.
The Mayor advised that direct apologies for absence had been received from Councillors Afzal, M.Butt, Colacicco, Conneely, Crane, Denselow, Ezeajughi and Lo.
Apologies for lateness were received from Councillors Hassan, Mashari and Thakkar.
Mayor's Statement - Order of Business
Before consideration of the formal agenda, the Mayor informed members of a change to the order of business set out on the original summons. As representatives of Brent Youth Parliament were present for the public question session, the Mayor advised that in accordance with Standing Order 30, he was intending to move that item forward on the agenda for consideration following the Mayor’s Announcements.
In addition, as there were two items relating to Brexit he advised that he was intending to change the order of items on the agenda so these could be considered together.
It was therefore RESOLVED that:
(1) The business to be considered at the meeting be re-arranged in the following order:
· Agenda Item 5 – Questions from Members of the Public & Youth Parliament
· Agenda Item 14 – Changes to the Constitution
· Agenda Item 16 – Report from the Director of Performance , Policy and Partnerships considering the Impact of Brexit
(2) The remaining items of business follow in the same order as listed on the agenda
To confirm as a correct record, the attached minutes of the previous meeting of the Council held on Monday 17 September 2018.
Minutes of the Council meeting held on 17 September 2018 agreed as a correct record.
RESOLVED that the minutes of the Council meeting held on Monday 17 September 2018 be approved as a correct record.
Declarations of Interest
Members are invited to declare at this stage of the meeting, the nature and existence of any relevant disclosable pecuniary or personal interests in the items on this agenda and to specify the item(s) to which they relate.
No interests declared.
No interests were declared by Members at the meeting.
Mayor's Announcements (including any petitions received)
To receive any announcements from the Mayor.
NOTED the announcements from the Mayor in relation to:
· Death of former Councillor Carol Shaw – with tributes paid by Councillors Colwill, McLennan and Maurice.
· Hate attacks in Brent
· Remembrance Sunday
· Pride of Brent Awards
· 100th birthday celebration
· United Albanian Community National Day
· World Aids Day
· Mayors Gala Fundraising Dinner
· St Joseph’s Roman Catholic Primary School
The Mayor made the following announcements:
(i) Death of former Councillor Carol Shaw
The Mayor advised that it was with sadness he had to announce the death of former Councillor Carol Shaw who had passed away on 20 September.
He reminded Members that Carol had served the people of Brent for over 25 years, most recently as ward councillor for Brondesbury Park where she had been a passionate and dedicated Councillor. In remembering Carol he stated that the Council’s thoughts were with her friends, family and former colleagues and as a mark of respect asked all those present to stand in order to observe a minutes silence in her memory.
A minutes silence was observed.
As a number of Members had indicated they wished to formally pay tribute to Carol Shaw he then opened up the meeting to invite contributions.
Councillor Colwill opened the tributes by highlighting the support and guidance Carol had provided when he had first been elected to the Council and the friendship they had gone on to develop over the years. He highlighted the way in which she had always stood up for her local residents and said she would be sorely missed.
The following members also spoke in tribute:
· Councillor Long advised she had first encountered Carol back in 1990. Whilst always a formidable character, she highlighted Carol’s dedication to her local residents and the respect in which she had been held by them. She would therefore be missed by councillors and residents alike.
· Councillor Gbajumo also highlighted the dedication Carol had shown to her local residents and how much she was missed by those she had previously served as ward councillor. As a tribute, Councillor Gbajumo advised that she, along with the other newly elected councillors in Brondesbury Park ward, hoped to be able to follow on her good work in representing the local area.
· Councillor McLeish also highlighted the local support and respect for Carol he had experienced ward when campaigning within Brondesbury Park during the most recent local elections.
· Councillor Maurice who advised that whilst only knowing Carol for a relatively short period, had also been impressed by her formidable character and hard work as a ward councillor, with her residents always coming first.
The Mayor thanked everyone for their kind and touching tributes.
The Mayor reminded Members that November marked the 80th anniversary of the Kristallnacht. In remembering the anniversary he felt it was important to never forget the upset caused and victims of such attacks.
(iii) Hate Crime in Brent
The Mayor was sad to report a recent incident experienced outside a Mosque in the Borough, involving racist insults being shouted to people leaving the building.
The Mayor advised that he, along with the Leader and Chief Executive, had joined people immediately after the incident to show solidarity with worshippers and felt it important to demonstrate how such attacks and abuse should never be tolerated.
(iv) Remembrance Sunday
The Mayor thanked all those who had attended the Borough’s ... view the full minutes text for item 5.
8.1 To receive questions submitted by the public to Cabinet Members, in accordance with Standing Order 33.
Two questions have been received under this item, which have been attached along with the written response provided.
8.2 To receive questions submitted from members of Brent Youth Parliament to Cabinet Members, in accordance with Standing Order 33(d)
Two questions have been received under this item, which have been attached along with the written responses provided.
1. The written responses provided by the Lead Member for Environment to a question submitted from a member of the public relating to parking in the Wembley area. No supplementary question was received.
2. The written responses provided by the Lead Member for Environment to a question submitted from a member of the public relating to the policy on removal of textile clothing banks. No supplementary question was received.
3. The written and supplementary verbal response from the Lead Member for Schools, Employment and Skills in relation to a question submitted from the Brent Youth Parliament regarding the promotion and monitoring of quality work experience opportunities for young people.
4. The written and supplementary verbal response provided by the Lead Member for Children's Safeguarding, Early Help and Social Care in relation to a question submitted from the Brent Youth Parliament regarding the alternative measures being developed to respond to budget reductions in the Youth Service.
The Mayor advised that in accordance with Standing Order 33 two questions had been received from the members of the public:
Question 1 from Mr Jean Bernard to Councillor Krupa Sheth, Lead Member for Environment relating parking concerns in the Wembley area.
Question 2 from Mr Jose Baladron to Councillor Krupa Sheth, Lead Member for Environment regarding the policy on removal of textile clothing banks.
Members noted the written responses to the questions, circulated with the agenda. The Mayor advised that both members of the public had been invited to attend the meeting in order to ask a supplementary question. Whilst neither were present, the Mayor informed Members that Mr Baladron had confirmed he was satisfied with the written response provided on the basis of further discussions with Members. No supplementary questions were therefore received.
Following on from the public question session the Mayor then moved on to deal with the questions received from representatives of Brent Youth Parliament. He advised that the following two questions had been received from members of the Youth Parliament:
Question 1 to Councillor Agha, Lead Member for Schools, Employment and Skills, requesting details on action being taken by the Council to provide and promote effective work experience opportunities for young people.
Question 2 to Councillor Mili Patel, Lead Member for Children’s Safeguarding, Early Help and Social Care regarding measures being developed to respond to budget reductions in the Youth Service.
Members noted the written responses to the questions, circulated with the agenda and the Mayor advised that he was pleased to welcome Jai Patel and Sara Bokrugji on behalf of the Youth Parliament who were attending in order to ask supplementary questions on both issues.
Supplementary Question 1 from Jai Patel to Councillor Agha, Lead Member for Schools, Employment and Skills
Jai Patel began by thanking the Mayor for the welcome extended to the Youth Parliament. Having noted that the provision of work related learning had now been decentralised and removed as a statutory role, details were sought on the oversight by the Council in relation to the quality and provision of work related learning across schools and colleges in the borough in order to ensure equality of opportunity in relation to access.
In response, Councillor Agha highlighted that in addition to the action outlined in his written response to support work based learning opportunities and apprenticeships, a range of other activity was being undertaken to extend and promote the range of opportunities available. He advised he would be able to provide a more detailed written response on these following the meeting. As examples, reference was made to the opportunities and support available through Brent Start and to the recent job fair held in Brent which had attracted over 70 employers and been attended by over 1700 local people providing access to a range of opportunities. Although in its early stages, work had also commenced to examine opportunities within the school curriculum to promote local apprenticeships (particularly in the construction industry) with negotiations also ... view the full minutes text for item 6.
To agree any appointments to Committees, Joint Committees, Forums, Panels and Outside Bodies (if any); and the appointments of Chairs/Vice Chairs (if any) in accordance with Standing Order 30 (g).
AGREED the appointments to Committees and Outside Bodies, as detailed in the supplementary paper.
The Mayor referred Members to the supplementary pack circulated in advance of the meeting, which contained a list of changes to appointments on Council Committees, Sub Committees and other bodies.
It was RESOLVED that:
(1) the following appointments be approved:
(a) Councillor Naheerathan to replace Councillor Lo and Councillor Donnelly-Jackson to replace Councillor Mashari as full members of the Audit & Standards Advisory Committee and Audit & Standards Committee.
(b) Councillor Lo to replace Councillor S.Butt as a substitute member of the Audit & Standards Advisory Committee and Audit & Standards Committee.
(c) Councillor S.Butt to replace Councillor Lo as a full member of the Planning Committee.
(d) Councillor Kennelly to replace Councillor Abdirazak and Councillor Lo to replace Councillor S.Butt as substitute members of the Planning Committee.
(e) Councillor Miller to replace Councillor Dar as a full member of the Trading Standards Joint Advisory Board.
(f) Councillor Dar to replace Councillor Daly as a substitute member of the Trading Standards Joint Advisory Board.
(g) Councillor Ketan Sheth to replace Councillor Denselow as a full member of the Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation (OPDC) Planning Committee.
(2) In addition to the changes in (1) above, to note that the following membership changes were being recommended to General Purposes Committee for approval:
(a) Councillor Kabir to replace Councillor Choudhary as a full member of the Pension Board.
(b) Councillor R.Patel to replace Councillor Aden and Councillor Marquis to replace Councillor Perrin as substitute members of the Pension Board.
To receive the report from the Leader and Cabinet in accordance with Standing Order 31 setting out any key or significant issues arising from matters within their portfolios.
Members are asked to note that this session will include an opportunity (within the time available) for non-Cabinet members to ask questions of relevant Cabinet Members.
NOTED the report and accompanying updates provided by the Deputy Leader of the Council (on behalf of the Leader) in relation to the impact of Brexit on the borough; Lead Member for Regeneration, Highways and Planning in relation to the consultation on the Draft Borough Local Plan and encouraging support for Small Business Saturday on 1st December 18 and Lead Member for Housing & Welfare Reform on progress with the roll-out of Universal Credit across Brent and consultation currently being undertaken on the Housing Allocation Policy.
Responses were also provided by the relevant Lead Members on the following questions raised during the open session of this part of the meeting:
· Councillor Knight seeking details on plans to include all parts of the borough (including Stonebridge) within the programme of activities being developed for the Borough of Culture.
· Councillor Kansagra seeking support for the provision of free parking across all local high streets in order to support local businesses during the Christmas period.
· Councillor Long requesting confirmation of the Council’s “no fault evictions policy in relation to housing rent arrears created as a result of delays in Universal Credit payments being made.
· Councillor Choudhary regarding the parking and travel difficulties caused for local residents as a result of the traffic management measures in place during event days at Wembley Stadium.
· Councillor Kennelly requesting support for the USDAWs Freedom from Fear campaign seeking to prevent violence, threats and abuse against shopworkers.
· Councillor Daly seeking further details on the action being taken (including enforcement activity) by the Council to hold landlords and leaseholders to account in cases where properties leased to them by the Council are being poorly maintained. The Lead Member for Housing and Welfare Reform advised that she would provide a written response on the action plan being developed in relation to leaseholder services.
The Mayor referred Members to the written report which had been circulated with the agenda providing updates from the Leader and Cabinet Members in relation to their portfolios. He then invited the Deputy Leader and other Cabinet Members to provide updates on any significant issues to be highlighted. Once these updates had been provided, he reminded Members that the remaining time available would be opened up for any non-Cabinet members to question (without the need for advance notice) Cabinet Members on matters relating to their portfolios.
The following updates were provided by the Deputy Leader and Cabinet Members:
(a) Councillor Margaret McLennan, Deputy Leader
Councillor McLennan began by taking the opportunity to remind Members of Brent’s unique history, cultural diversity, unity and reputation as an iconic destination. Whilst these were all to be celebrated she felt there were still many issues to overcome, particularly in relation to the potential impact and divisions arising from Brexit. Welcoming the opportunity provided later in the meeting to debate these issues, Councillor McLennan recognised the efforts being made in Brent to ensure that everyone had the same opportunity to succeed alongside the hard work that was still required to achieve such an aim.
In accordance with Standing Order 14 (f) Councillor McLennan also reported that there had been no use of the Key Decision and Forward Plan urgency procedures since the last Council meeting.
Having completed her update, the Deputy Leader then invited Councillors Tatler (Lead Member for Regeneration, Highways and Planning) and Southwood (Lead Member for Housing and Welfare Reform) to present additional updates in relation to their portfolios.
(b) Councillor Tatler (Lead Member for Regeneration, Highways and Planning)
Councillor Tatler took the opportunity to remind Members of the consultation which had recently commenced on the draft Local Plan which she advised provided an opportunity to help shape the future landscape of Brent and guide planning policy over the next 20 years. Members and residents were encouraged to participate in the consultation process.
In addition Members were advised of the various activities planned to support Small Business Saturday on 1st December 18. Again all members were encouraged to support the event in their local area.
(c) Councillor Southwood (Lead Member for Housing & Welfare Reform)
Councillor Southwood advised members that implementation of the new Universal Credit regime had now gone live in Brent commencing at Harlesden Job Centre and shortly to be rolled-out at Wembley Job Centre. Given the difficulties with its implementation elsewhere, Members were reminded that residents experiencing problems with payments should initially be referred to the Department for Work & Pensions for advice. The Council would also be able to provide support, with Members asked to ensure the Housing Department was involved should it become apparent that tenants were experiencing difficulties in terms of maintaining rent payments as a result of the roll-out.
In addition, Members were also reminded of the consultation currently underway in relation to a review of the Council’s Housing Allocations Policy. Given the limited options available and ... view the full minutes text for item 8.
Deputations (if any)
To hear any deputations received from members of the public in accordance with Standing Order 32.
The Mayor informed Members that no requests for any deputations had been received for this meeting.
Petitions (if any)
For Members to refer to petitions received and debate any petition with more than 200 signatures, where such a request has been submitted in accordance with the Council’s petition rules and Standing Order 66.
No petitions for debate.
The Mayor informed Members that there were no petitions to be debated in accordance with the Council’s petition procedure and Standing Order 66.
To enable non Cabinet Members to debate an issue of relevance to Brent for which notice has been provided in accordance with Standing Order 34 and to receive reports from Cabinet members, where required, on issues previously raised.
The following motion was agreed as an outcome of the non-cabinet member debate:
This Council notes:
The important work carried out by the Private Housing Enforcement team:
· Brent has an estimated 36,000 privately rented properties. The Private Housing Enforcement team carry out between 30-40 planned inspections per week, plus an additional 10-15 unannounced inspection raids.
· Brent Council has won 140 landmark prosecution cases against rogue landlords, agents and sub-letters since 2016. The convictions have resulted in more than £1.1m in court fines and costs.
· A total of 901 PRS Properties have been improved as a consequence of their interventions, since January 2018.
· Brent Council is registered with, and a member of the Housing Ombudsman Service. We also contribute to the renters’ advice service: Advice 4 Renters, and enforcement officers give A4R’s advice leaflets to tenants when they visit. They also signpost tenants to A4R’s website, or SSP Law (solicitor firm contracted by Brent Council to advise tenants).
This despite the Council operating against a backdrop of prolonged austerity. We therefore also note:
· The average price paid for property in Brent in the last year stands at nearly half a million pounds. Consequently it is no small wonder that the proportion of people renting privately has doubled since 2004; half of 18-35s, 1 in 4 families with children, and growing numbers of older people now live in privately rented homes .
· That most of England’s 11 million renters are on tenancies with fixed terms of six months or a year; after this period has ended, landlords can evict their tenants with just two months’ notice, without giving them a reason. These ‘no fault evictions’ were introduced under Section 21 of the 1988 Housing Act; before this, renters had much greater security and it was difficult for landlords to evict tenants who paid the rent on time and looked after the property.
· Evictions are the number one cause of homelessness with 80% of evictions on no-fault grounds, and 63% of private renters who were forced to move in 2016 evicted not due to any fault of their own but because the landlord wanted to sell or use the property [2,3,4].
· The recent Guardian and ITV investigation into rogue landlords operating in Brent, and note how a number of these criminals wilfully exploit loopholes within existing legislation.
· The London Mayor’s online “” is available to all Londoners and has received more than 1,000 entries from local authorities.
· That Karen Buck MP’s private members bill on “Homes (fitness for human habitation)”, which seeks to require that residential rented accommodation is provided and maintained in a state of fitness for human habitation. We also welcome the progress of the tenants’ fees bill through Parliament.
This Council believes:
· That housing is intrinsically linked to poverty and life chances. Children need secure homes from which to excel in their schooling. Adults need a secure home in order to work, flourish, and take part in society to their fullest potential.
· The Government has been ... view the full decision text for item 11.
In accordance with Standing Order 34, the Mayor advised that the subject chosen for the Non Cabinet Member debate was on the Private Rented Housing Sector.
Members were advised that the motion submitted as the basis for the debate had been circulated with the supplementary agenda for the meeting and that the time available for the debate was 30 minutes. The Mayor then invited Councillor Donnelly-Jackson to introduce the motion. As context for the debate, Councillor Donnelly-Jackson highlighted there were an estimated 36,000 privately rented properties in Brent. Whilst the Private Housing Enforcement Team was undertaking important work in carrying out inspections and had recently secured a number of significant prosecutions against rogue landlords which had attracted national media attention, their resources were increasingly stretched as a result of the Government’s current climate of austerity. Highlighting her personal experiences of living in private rented accommodation within the borough, which she pointed out were experiences shared by many others, Councillor Donnelly-Jackson was keen to seek the Council’s support in ensuring private rented sector tenants had access to appropriate advice alongside the promotion of renters unions. In addition she was keen for local MPs to be encouraged to support Karen Buck MP in the House of Commons debate she was sponsoring on 6 December 18 regarding the use of section 21 evictions in the private rented sector. She therefore urged all members to support the motion put forward for debate.
The Mayor then opened up the debate to other Members, with the following comments made during the discussion that followed.
Councillor Johnson, speaking in support of the motion, advised that he had also been responsible for raising a number of concerns direct with the Mayor for London, as a member of Citizens UK, regarding the operation of rogue landlords in the private rented sector. A number of these concerns had been recognised by the Mayor of London who as a result had established an online “rogue landlord checker” system. Councillor Johnson was also supportive of the need for more consistent regulation of landlords. Whilst noting the efforts made in Brent with the introduction of the mandatory licensing scheme for HMOs and selective landlord licensing in certain wards he was keen to ensure this was rolled-out across the whole borough in order to ensure landlords could be properly held to account. Alongside these initiatives he highlighted the importance in addressing the demand for the supply of genuinely affordable housing as another means of mitigating the concerns highlighted for action.
Councillor Long, also spoke in support of the motion, highlighting concerns around the support available to tenants particularly those renting without any form of tenancy agreement. Whilst the Council had introduced a landlord licensing scheme she pointed out that the focus of the scheme was in managing the physical standard of properties rather than on how tenants were being treated. As with Councillor Donnelly-Jackson she also highlighted a number of specific examples in terms of practices operated by rogue landlords and how difficult it ... view the full minutes text for item 11.
For questions to be put to members of the Cabinet by non-Cabinet Members in accordance with Standing Order 35.
Details of the four questions submitted in advance have been attached along with the written responses provided.
Members are asked to note that this session will also include an opportunity at the meeting (within the time available) for other non-Cabinet members to ask questions of Cabinet.
1. The written and supplementary verbal response provided by the Lead Member for Regeneration, Highways and Planning to a question submitted by Councillor Stephens regarding lobbying action to secure a more regular rail service from Sudbury & Harrow Road Station.
2. The written and supplementary verbal response provided by the Lead Member for Regeneration, Highways and Planning to a question submitted by Councillor Hector regarding the information available and way in which local residents are able to submit requests or influence decisions regarding the installation or removal of street furniture.
3. The written response provided by the Lead Member for Regeneration, Highways and Planning in relation to a question submitted by Councillor Colacicco on the promotion of sustainable construction methods ang green technology in new homes. No supplementary question was asked.
4. The written and supplementary verbal response provided by the Lead Member for Regeneration, Highways and Planning to a question submitted by Councillor Colwill on the timetable for works being undertaken to repair damaged pavements and potholes across the borough.
Responses were also provided by the relevant Lead Members on the following additional questions raised during the open session of this part of the meeting:
· Councillor Chan seeking confirmation of the Cabinet’s position in relation to the policy on Academisation and support for teachers in opposing the process at Village School.
· Councillor Kabir requesting an update on the contingency measures in place to ensure the continuation of social care for those adults whose packages are currently being delivered by Allied Healthcare, given the ongoing concerns regarding their financial position.
· Councillor Nerva on the potential to introduce a community toilet facility scheme and free access to water fountains as part of plans to promote and support local high streets and businesses.
· Councillor Kelcher on whether it would be possible to apply an amnesty in relation to penalty charge notices issued for vehicles making a right turn from Harvest Road into Chamberlain Road in Kensal Green, given problems experienced with illumination of the “No Right Turn” warning sign. Whilst not able to provide any commitment in terms of an amnesty the Lead Member for Environment advised she would look at the issue in order to come back with a response.
· Councillor Hassan seeking support for the Council’s participation in the “It’s our Turn” campaign being run by Safe Passage.
· Councillor Ethapemi highlighting concerns regarding the potential closure of GP practices within the borough.
· Councillor Kennelly raising concerns regarding the limited publicity and consultation undertaken by TfL on planned alterations to the 223 bus service given the impact on residents within his ward who relied on the service.
· Councillor Ketan Sheth regarding the potential financial impact on Brent arising from the recent Court of Appeal decision in relation to the location of ATMs given its relevance to business rates. The Deputy Leader advised she would need to come back with further details on the response currently being developed.
· Councillor Long on the need to update the Brent Connect webpage to ensure access ... view the full decision text for item 12.
Before moving on to consider the questions submitted by non-Cabinet members, the Mayor reminded Members that a total of 30 minutes had been set aside to deal with this item which would begin with consideration of the written questions submitted in advance of the meeting along with any supplementary question. Once these had been dealt with, the remaining time available would then be opened up for any other non-Cabinet members to question Cabinet Members (without the need for advance notice) on matters relating to their portfolio.
The Mayor advised that four written questions had been submitted in advance for response by the relevant Cabinet Member. The written responses supplied had been circulated with the Council agenda. The following supplementary questions were then received:
12.1 Cllr Stephens thanked Councillor Tatler (Lead Member for Regeneration, Highways & Planning) for the response which he had been encouraged to note included a commitment to the issue being raised as part of the consultation response on the Local Implementation Plan (LIP3). Given the concerns raised regarding the frequency of rail services being provided by the current transport provider from Sudbury and Harrow Road Station he asked the Lead Member if she would be willing to support continued lobbying (working with ward councillors and the Sudbury Town Residents Association), as part of the upcoming franchise renewal, in order to secure a more regular service from the station.
In response, Councillor Tatler advised that she fully supported the concerns raised regarding the current level of service available, given the attempts being made to encourage greater use of public transport and less reliance on cars and confirmed she would be willing to support ward councillors and the local Residents Association in raising this issue as part of the consultation process on the franchise review. In addition, Councillor Tatler advised that the matter had been raised at the Public Transport Forum held earlier in the day who also shared the concerns raised and would be seeking to take these forward.
12.2 Having thanked Councillor Tatler for her response, Councillor Hector asked the Lead Member if it would be possible for the Council to provide clearer information and guidance for local residents about how they could request or seek to influence/support decisions regarding the installation or removal of street furniture. As background in support of the question she highlighted the experience of local residents in her ward who were seeking the installation of bike hangers at various locations and also those who were seeking the removal of benches in the Hazel Road area due to associated problems of anti-social behaviour.
In response Councillor Tatler (Lead Member for Regeneration, Highways & Planning) advised that the Highways Team when considering the redesign of any street scene provision would include considerations around decluttering. Recent examples of improvements made following consultation with local residents and businesses, included changes made to the street scene on the High Street in Kingsbury. In terms of the supplementary question, Councillor Tatler advised she would be willing to undertake further discussions ... view the full minutes text for item 12.
To receive reports from the Chairs of the Council’s Scrutiny Committees in accordance with Standing Order 46. The reports have been attached as follows:
12.1 Community and Wellbeing Scrutiny Committee
12.2 Housing Scrutiny Committee
12.3 Resources and Public Realm Scrutiny Committee
Members are asked to note that this session will include an opportunity (within the time available) for non-Cabinet members to ask questions of relevant Scrutiny Chair’s in relation to the remits of their Committees.
NOTED the update reports provided by the Chairs of the Community and Wellbeing, Housing and Resources & Public Realm Scrutiny Committees along with the responses provided by:
· Lead Member for Children’s Safeguarding, Early Help and Social Care in relation to the issues raised under the Community and Wellbeing update around the funding and restructure of Local Children’s Safeguarding arrangements as a result of the recent legislative changes and how these would be expected to drive forward further improvements and mitigate issues such as the impact of child poverty, on which the Lead Member advised she would provide a written response.
· Lead Member for Adult Social Care in relation to an issue raised under the Community and Wellbeing update around the monitoring and quality of care providers.
· Lead Member for Housing & Welfare in relation to issues raised under the Housing update regarding renewal of the contract for tenancy advice, decision taken in relation to the landlord licensing fee and update on the programme for installation of fire sprinkler systems in Council high rise blocks (on which the Lead Member advised she would write to the Committee with further details).
· Deputy Leader in relation to issues raised under the Resources and Public Realm update regarding the classification of savings proposals under the budget consultation process and anticipated outcome of the consultation exercise.
Responses were also provided by the relevant Scrutiny Chairs on the following additional questions raised during the open session for this part of the meeting:
· Councillor Ethapemi regarding the funding and review of street cleansing activities.
· Councillor Choudhary regarding the review of funding for Adult Social Care as part of the budget consultation process
· Councillor Nerva regarding the impact of proposed budget reductions in relation to the effective operation of the scrutiny function.
· Councillor Chan on the need to ensure, as an outcome of the budget consultation process, that detailed impact assessments were provided for all savings proposals.
Before being presented with the updates from each Scrutiny Chair, the Mayor reminded Members that the time set aside for this item was now 20 minutes, with each Chair having up to three minutes in which to highlight any significant issues arising from the work of their Committees on which they would like the relevant Cabinet Member to respond. Once these updates had been provided, the remaining time available would then be opened up for any other non-Cabinet members to question (without the need for advance notice) the Scrutiny Chairs on matters relating to the work of their Committees.
The following updates were provided by each of the Scrutiny Chairs:
13.1 Community & Wellbeing Scrutiny Committee
Councillor Ketan Sheth introduced the report from his Committee, with the following issues identified for response by the relevant Lead Members:
a. Given the recent review undertaken by the Committee in relation to the Annual Reports from the Safeguarding Adults and Safeguarding Children Boards further details were requested on the impact of the legislative changes being introduced to the future structure of safeguarding arrangements for children in terms of:
· what improvements the new system had been designed to deliver;
· the role of the current independent chair under the new arrangements and any change in funding formula; and
· how the new arrangements had been designed to mitigate the negative impact of poverty on children and their families.
Councillor Mili Patel (responding as Lead Member for Children’s Safeguarding, Early Help and Social Care) advised that she would provide a detailed written response on the first two bullet points raised. In relation to poverty, she highlighted the complex and varied nature of the issues needing to be addressed and additional impact likely to be caused by the roll out of Universal Credit. The Council was, however, continually looking to review provision and support available in order to mitigate the issues in relation to children as far as possible.
b. Moving on to then focus on Adult Safeguarding arrangements, details were sought on how effective the arrangements for monitoring the quality of care providers were felt to be.
In response, Councillor Farah (Lead Member for Adult Social Care) assured the Chair that he was confident with the current quality of monitoring being undertaken, which was led through an independent review process involving the Care Quality Commission.
13.2 Housing Scrutiny Committee
Councillor Long introduced the report from her Committee, and began by highlighting that amongst the items to be considered at their next meeting, the Committee would be reviewing:
· the proposed change to the Housing Allocation Policy, currently on consultation involving provision for residents in Temporary Accommodation within Regeneration Areas;
· the impact of changes to administration of the Selective Landlord Licensing fee.
The following were then raised as issues for response by the relevant Lead Member in relation to the work of the Committee:
a. reassurance was sought that as part of the award of the interim contract for provision of tenancy advice there would be a requirement for ... view the full minutes text for item 13.
To receive a report from the Vice-Chair of the Audit & Standards Advisory Committee in accordance with Standing Order 37.
NOTED the update report provided by the Vice Chair of the Audit & Standards Advisory Committee.
The Mayor invited Councillor Choudry (as Vice-Chair of the Audit & Standards Advisory Committee) to introduce his report updating members on the work of the Audit & Standards Advisory Committee.
As part of the report, Councillor Choudry updated Members on the successful outcome of two recent counter fraud cases.
Whilst pointing out that it was not unusual for organisations as large and complex as the Council to experience various types of fraud and not being complacent, he was keen to once again reassure Members about the robust nature of the Council’s anti-fraud and corruption strategy and work being undertaken by the Internal Audit function to combat fraud and ensure the necessary controls were in place, which he advised he would also continue to work closely with the Chief Finance Officer in supporting.
As a final issue, Councillor Choudry highlighted the ongoing efforts being made to recruit to recent vacancies in the Internal Audit staffing structure, which he was confident would be resolved shortly.
The Mayor thanked Councillor Choudry for his update and it was RESOLVED that the content of the report be noted.
To receive a report from the Director of Legal and HR Services seeking approval to a number of changes to the Constitution.
(1) To approve the changes to the Constitution as detailed within Appendices 1 – 5 of the report relating to:
(a) Terms of Reference for the North West London Joint Health Overview & Scrutiny Committee (Appendix 1);
(b) Members Allowance Scheme – Dependent Carers Allowance (Appendix 2);
(c) Property Scheme of Delegation (Appendix 3);
(d) Standing Order 41 – Motions (Appendix 4); and
(e) Standing Order 15 – Developing proposals for the budget and capital programme (Appendix 5).
(2) To authorise the Director of Legal and HR Services to amend the Constitution accordingly, including the making of any necessary incidental or consequential changes.
(3) To note that, to the extent that the changes relate to executive functions of the Council, they have been approved by the Leader.
Councillor Margaret McLennan (as Deputy Leader) introduced the report from the Director of Legal and HR Services which she advised proposed a number of changes to the Constitution.
As no other members indicated 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.
It was therefore RESOLVED:
(1) To approve the following changes to the Constitution as set out in the report and appendices, with the changes in relation to the procedure for dealing with Motions becoming effective with immediate effect:
(a) Terms of Reference for the North West London Joint Health Overview & Scrutiny Committee (Appendix 1);
(b) Members Allowance Scheme – Dependent Carers’ Allowance (Appendix 2);
(c) Property Scheme of Delegation (Appendix 3);
(d) Standing Order 41 – Motions (Appendix 4); and
(e) Standing Order 15 – Developing proposals for the budget and capital programme (Appendix 5).
(2) To authorise the Director of Legal and HR Services to amend the Constitution accordingly, including the making of any necessary incidental or consequential changes;
(3) To note, to the extent that the changes relate to executive functions of the Council, they have been approved by the Leader.
To receive a report from the Strategic Director of Environment & Regeneration seeking approval, following its endorsement and referral by Cabinet (12 November 18), to the revised Statement of Gambling Principles 2019-2022.
AGREED that Council approve the revised Statement of Gambling Principles 2019-2022 as detailed within Appendix 1 of the report.
Councillor Tom Miller (Cabinet Member for Stronger Communities) introduced the report from the Strategic Director of Regeneration and Environment seeking approval of the revised Statement of Gambling Principles 2019-2022 following its consideration and referral by Cabinet on 12 November 18.
Introducing the report, he highlighted that the Statement was intended to set out the Council’s (as Licensing Authority) policy for dealing with applications and regulating gambling premises within the Borough. As required under the Gambling Act 2005 the Statement had been subject to a three year review, with the outcome of the consultation process detailed within Appendix 2 of the report. Whilst comments received from representatives of the gambling industry as part of the consultation had been critical of the reference within the Executive Summary to the potential harm and costs associated with gambling, he felt these had been justified in terms of the restrictions on the Council being able to set its own policy. The comments, he felt, had provided a wider context to the Council’s policy whilst still adhering to the regulations and Gambling Commission’s Guidance.
Councillor Miller felt that Council’s needed to be given more flexibility in setting their policy around the licensing and regulation of gambling premises, especially where there were concerns relating to anti-social behaviour, minors or public health but advised he was supportive of the Government’s recent U-turn in respect of the policy on fixed odd betting terminals.
Subject to members approving the revised Statement, he advised the Statement would then be published for a final four week period of public inspection.
The Mayor then invited opened up the debate for other members to speak on the report.
Councillor Kelcher, whilst not opposed to the approach outlined, felt there was also a need to consider the disparity in the way gambling on the high street was treated when compared to premises, for example, selling alcohol when problems were experienced. Whilst the policy was focussed around gambling operators on the high street he felt there were similar, if not more, issues needing to be tackled from a public health perspective in relation to advertising and online gambling.
Councillor Choudhary, whilst also supportive of the revised Statement, highlighted the need to ensure consistent enforcement of the policy in relation to the three objectives of the Gambling Act 2005, as detailed within section 3.7 of the report.
As a final comment, Councillor Nerva felt it would be helpful if the Council had the power to seek financial contributions, in a similar way to the operation of s106 agreements within planning, from gambling operators seeking a licence as a contribution towards related public health work and felt lobbying of the Government would be required to ensure the necessary legislative changes were made.
As no other Members indicated they wished to speak, the Mayor then invited Councillor Miller to sum up and close the debate. Thanking Members for their contributions he began by highlighting a need to recognise the clear distinction between Licensing and Planning powers. Whilst these did ... view the full minutes text for item 16.
To receive a report from the Director of Performance, Policy and Partnerships providing an overview, as requested at the last Council meeting, of the implications arising from the UK’s departure from the European Union.
NOTED the content of the report providing an overview of the implications arising from the UKs departure from the European Union.
Councillor McLennan (Deputy Leader) introduced the report from the Director of Performance, Policy and Partnerships which she advised provided an overview of the implications arising from the UKs departure from the European Union (EU) assessed at both a national and borough wide level. Whilst the report had provided a detailed assessment of the impact arising from the current position it was recognised that there were still many uncertainties regarding the final deal and its associated impact. These would continue to be kept under review, with Councillor McLennan taking the opportunity to highlight that despite the uncertainty Brent still remained open for business and welcoming to all communities.
The Mayor then opened up the debate for other members to speak on the report, with Councillor Choudhary referring to the potential impact identified on Council services should significant numbers of European residents currently residing in the Borough decide to leave.
Councillor Kelcher, highlighting his support for a People’s Vote, felt it was important to recognise the clear impact it was now possible to identify in relation to the economic implications arising from Brexit and on future generations in terms of seeking an end to austerity. Given there appeared to be no political consensus on the way forward in terms of the current deal and way in which the campaign on the original Referendum had been conducted (both in terms of information provide and funding) he felt it was now acceptable to seek a second vote particularly given the impact of the final decision on future generations to come.
Also speaking in support of a People’s Vote, Councillor Shahzad highlighted what he felt to be the significant economic difficulties arising from Brexit both national and more locally on businesses and in the ongoing attempts to tackle poverty across the borough. The views expressed by Councillors Kelcher and Shahzad were also supported by Councillor Ethapemi who, highlighting the lack of support from all sides for the current deal, misinformation provided as part of the original campaign and non-static nature of democracy felt the logical position would be to seek another vote on the final deal including the option to remain.
In terms of a People’s Vote, Councillor Kansagra felt it was important to recognise that the decision to leave the EU had been taken with it now being a matter for Parliament to agree on the terms of any final deal. Whilst there was a need to prepare for a range of options he was of the view that Brexit would end up having relatively little impact on EU citizens currently being able to remain in the UK and on employment.
Councillor Perrin felt there was a need for a fundamental review of the way the EU operated and was of the opinion that a change of Government was needed rather than a People’s Vote in order to seek a better deal that would enable the required changes to be made to both the current Brexit deal and EU in general.
To debate the motions submitted in accordance with Standing Order 41.
Members are asked to note that the motions submitted will be circulated as a supplementary paper in advance of the meeting, in accordance with Standing Order 41(c).
17.1 The following motion submitted by the Labour Group was approved:
This Council notes:
· It is now twenty-eight months since the referendum in which 72,523 Brent residents voted by a clear majority, to maintain the current benefits Britons enjoy, by staying in the European Union.
· In the months since, the “Vote Leave” campaign has been fined by the Electoral Commission, and, the Chancellor has conceded that leaving the EU without a deal would blast an £80bn black hole in the creaking public finances.
· Those that voted to leave, did not vote to be poorer. But it is some of our poorest residents that will be hardest hit; with a squeeze in living standards brought on by increased inflation and the depreciation of the pound.
· That, despite promises to the contrary, Government engagement of local political leaders has been virtually non-existent.
· That the London Assembly, the neighbouring boroughs of Camden, Ealing, Hammersmith and Fulham have all passed motions that back a “People’s Vote” on the final deal and an option to stay within the European Union.
This Council believes:
· That Brent is better off together. And put simply, we are a global borough, united in opposition to any form of Brexit that has deleterious effects on our residents.
· That leaving the EU will disproportionately impact Brent, not least because Brent has the second highest number of European residents in London. Moreover, many of the public services our residents rely upon, from their GP to their waste collection, are provided by dedicated European citizens.
· That any deal which undermines the principles of the hard-fought “Good Friday Agreement” should face wholesale rejection.
· It is evident that a calamitous Brexit will hurt all but the very richest, and that it will be our children, for the first time, poorer, less prosperous, with fewer opportunities than the generation before.
With this in mind, this Council resolves to:
· Voice its concern against any arrangement that damages the rights or prospects of EU nationals in this proudly diverse borough.
· Work with organisations representing EU nationals to help address the uncertainty that this careless Government has left in its wake.
· To liaise with local businesses, public sector partners, trade unions and our colleagues at the West London Alliance to ensure that Brent remains open for business throughout any transition period.
· Call upon Parliament to entrust the British people with a meaningful vote on the final deal; with options to remain in the European Union upon the ballot paper.
17.2 The following motion submitted by the Conservative Group was not approved:
This Council calls upon the Executive to undertake to repair all of the pavements across the Borough within the next 12 months, in light of the increasing numbers of residents being admitted to hospital after tripping on poor quality pavements. Brent Council acknowledges that it has a duty of care to its residents, ensuring that the elderly can walk safely without fear of injury, that children can ride their bikes and scooters without being thrown off by rubbish ... view the full decision text for item 18.
18.1 Motion from the Labour Group – People’s Vote
The Mayor invited Councillor Nerva to move the motion he had submitted on behalf of the Labour Group who began by highlighting, in respect of the 22% of residents currently living in Brent that were EU citizens, how they were regarded by the Council as community makers and not “queue jumpers”. Having reminded members of the background to the original Referendum he felt the biggest challenge remained tackling austerity which Brexit would only make worse. Given that Brent had voted to remain at the original Referendum and that recent research had demonstrated the extent to which a majority of individuals were expected to be worse off financial as a result of Brexit he felt there was a need to demonstrate true leadership in the form of support for a People’s Vote, including remain as an option in order to allow reform from within.
Before moving on to open up the debate, the Mayor reminded Members of the procedure now in operation for Motions as a result of the changes agreed earlier to Standing Orders. A total of 30 minutes was now set aside for dealing with Motions, based on a total of 10 minutes being allocated for debate on each of the three motions received. Within this time, once each Motion had been moved the debate would be opened up for any other Members to speak for which they would each have up to 2 minutes prior to any right of reply. The Mayor then invited other Members to speak on the motion, with the following contributions received.
Councillor Daly, in seconding the motion, made reference to a quote from Tony Blair in 1998 relating to signing of the Good Friday Agreement and to the significance of the peace delivered as a result, which she felt was now at risk as a result of Brexit. Given the greater understanding around the impact of Brexit not only economically, but also in terms of the Union, local communities and on relationships with neighbouring countries she felt people deserved to be given an opportunity to pause and to think again and was therefore supportive of the motion and call for a People’s Vote.
In terms of other contributions, Councillor Naheerathan highlighted a need to consider the impact of the current process on the rights of those EU citizens currently living in the UK whilst Councillor Colwill felt it important to recognise that the overall majority of those who had voted in the Referendum had chosen to leave with the result needing to be honoured.
In view of the remaining time available, the Mayor then invited Councillor Nerva to exercise his right of reply who thanked Members for their contributions and responded by highlighting what he felt had been the cry for help from many communities seeking relief from the impact of austerity, which the vote for Brexit had represented. Given the implications of Brexit were now much clearer than they had been at the ... view the full minutes text for item 18.
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. Before closing the meeting he took the opportunity (as the final Full Council meeting before the Christmas holiday period) to wish all Members a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.
The meeting was declared closed at 9:02pm