Agenda, decisions and minutes
Venue: Conference Hall - Brent Civic Centre, Engineers Way, Wembley, HA9 0FJ
Contact: Thomas Cattermole, Head of Executive and Member Services 020 8937 5446, Email: email@example.com
Apologies for Absence
To receive any apologies for absence from Members of the Council.
Apologies received from Councillors Donnelly-Jackson and Naheerathan.
The Mayor advised that direct apologies for absence had been received from Councillors Donnelly-Jackson and Naheerathan.
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 there were two items relating to the Council’s scrutiny function he advised that in accordance with Standing Order 30, he was intending to amend the order so both items could be considered at the same stage.
In addition, the Mayor announced that the Conservative Group had, prior to the meeting, withdrawn their proposed amendment to Motion 16.1 – “Standing up to racism, discrimination and prejudice in Brent”, which members indicated they would be happy to confirm.
It was therefore RESOLVED that:
(1) The business to be considered at the meeting be re-arranged in the following order:
· Agenda Item 11 – Overview & Scrutiny Annual Report 2018-19
· Agenda Item 12 –Update reports from the Chair of each Scrutiny Committee
(2) The remaining items of business follow in the same order as listed on the agenda
Statement from Lead Member for Community Safety & Engagement
Council noted a statement provided by the Cabinet Member for Community Safety & Engagement regarding recent fatalities within the borough, which the Mayor had agreed to receive as an urgent item.
The Mayor then moved on to advise that he had agreed to allow Councillor Miller (Lead Member for Community Safety & Engagement) to make a short urgent statement to Council at this stage in proceedings, regarding fatalities that had occurred within the borough over the weekend.
Councillor Miller thanked the Mayor and asked Members to join him in condemning the acts of violence that had taken place in Brent over the weekend. Taking the opportunity to convey the Council’s sympathy to the families and communities involved, Councillor Miller also felt it was important to recognise that communities across Brent were stronger than the violence experienced and condemned its perpetrators. He pointed out that whilst incidents of serious crime and knife crime, in particular, had significantly dropped across the borough there was a need to unite and maintain the focus on police resources and community support given the significant drop in central funding being made available.
Councillor Miller concluded by again offering condolences and pledged the Council’s support to those affected by the recent crimes.
Minutes of the Previous Meeting
RESOLVED that the minutes of the Annual Council Meeting held on Wednesday 1 May 2019 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:
· Recent fatalities in Brent
· Death of former Mayors Joyce Bacchus and Les Ford with tributes paid by Councillors Muhammed Butt, Colwill, Long, Hector and Kansagra.
· London Finals of HSBC Young Enterprise – Kingsbury High School
· Barham Primary School – Teachers Award
· Windrush Event
· Mayors Civic Service – 23 July 19
· LGBTQ+ Pride Month
· Big Iftar – Monks Park Mosque
· Jack Petchey Award – St Gregory’s Science College
· Armed Forces Day
· Co-operative Day
· Neasden Festival
The Mayor made the following announcements
(i) Recent fatalities in Brent
The Mayor opened his announcements by echoing the sentiments expressed by the Lead Member for Community Safety and Engagement regarding the fatalities in Brent over the weekend. He had been devastated to learn of the events, one of which was in his ward and the other very close to where he lived. He offered his thoughts, prayers and sympathy in support of the victims and their loved ones.
(ii) Death of former Mayor Les Ford & Joyce Bacchus
The Mayor advised that it was with great sadness he had to announce the deaths of two former Councillors and Mayors - Joyce Bacchus MBE and Les Ford.
He recognised that many councillors would have known Joyce, who was well loved and respected by colleagues, residents and council staff alike.
As a mark of respect, the Mayor asked those present to stand in order to observe a minute’s silence in respect of both Joyce and Les and also to remember the young lives recently lost within the Borough.
A minute’s silence was observed
As a number of Members had indicated they wished to formally pay tribute to Joyce Bacchus MBE, the Mayor then invited contributions from other councillors.
Councillor M Butt opened the tributes by highlighting how he and his family had known Joyce since 2005. He remembered with fondness her attention to the small details in life, which had made her so well liked and respected by all she knew and the communities she represented. Councillor Butt said it had been an honour to have been able to work with Joyce and hoped that her commitment and dedication to the people of Brent was something which all Members would aspire to.
The following members also spoke in tribute:
· Councillor Colwill also spoke about how privileged he had been to know Joyce whom he highlighted had been an intelligent, highly respected and dedicated advocate for the residents she had represented. He recalled her resilience, especially after a car accident she had been involved in.
· Councillor Long advised she also had many memories of serving with Joyce and particularly recalled her willingness to support other members. Highlighting the respect Joyce commanded from residents, particularly in her ward, she pointed out that she would be missed and remembered with affection.
· Councillor Hector also took the opportunity to highlight Joyce’s attention to detail and commenting on the tributes paid at her funeral felt she would have been touched by the fondness with which she had been remembered and how much she would be missed by all those who had known and served with her.
· Councillor Kansagra concluded the tributes by highlighting how he had got to know Joyce whilst serving with her as a Magistrate in Brent. He also remarked on her integrity, fairness and lack of bias and pointed out how much she would be missed by all who had known her.
The Mayor thanked everyone for their kind and touching tributes.
(iii) London ... view the full minutes text for item 6.
To agree any appointments to 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:
(1) that the following appointments be approved:
(a) Councillor S.Choudhary be appointed to replace Councillor Long as a substitute member on the Audit & Standards Advisory Committee and Audit & Standards Committee.
(b) Councillor Perrin be appointed to replace Councillor Stephens as a substitute member on the Audit & Standards Advisory Committee and Audit & Standards Committee.
(c) Councillor Colacicco be appointed to fill a vacancy as substitute member on the Audit & Standards Advisory Committee and Audit & Standards Committee.
(d) Councillor S.Choudhary be appointed to fill a vacancy as substitute member on the Community & Wellbeing Scrutiny Committee.
(e) Councillor S.Choudhary and Councillor Stephens be appointed to fill the two vacancies as full members on the Resources & Public Realm Scrutiny Committee.
(f) Councillor S.Butt to be replaced by a vacancy as a full member on the Resources & Public Realm Scrutiny Committee.
(g) Councillor S.Butt be appointed to replace Councillor Stephens as substitute member on the Resources & Public Realm Scrutiny Committee.
(h) Councillor Daly be appointed to replace Councillor W.Mitchell Murray as chair of Brent Connects – Wembley with Councillor Patterson to replace Councillor Daly as vice-chair.
(i) Councillor Krupa Sheth to be appointed as the main Council representative on the London Councils Transport and Environment Committee with Councillor Tatler to replace her as deputy member and Councillors Agha, Hirani and Miller to be appointed as additional deputy members.
(2) to note the following changes notified by the Leader of the Council in relation to Cabinet and Executive Joint Committee appointments:
(a) Cabinet portfolio remits amended as follows:
· Regeneration, Highways & Planning amended to Regeneration, Property and Planning
· Community Safety amended to Community Safety & Engagement
(b) Councillor Tatler appointed to replace Councillor Muhammed Butt as full member on the West London Economic Prosperity Board with Councillor M.Butt appointed as substitute member.
(c) Councillors McLennan and Agha (Deputy) replaced by Councillor Miller as full member on the London Councils Grants Committee and Councillor Hirani as deputy member.
(d) Councillor Tatler appointed as additional full member on the London Housing Consortium.
(3) 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 Abdirazak to be replaced by a vacancy as full member on the Brent Pension Fund Sub Committee.
(4) To note the correction to the Council’s representation on Lee Valley Regional Park Authority with Councillor Hirani having been appointed to serve a four-year term of office expiring in May 2021.
Deputations (if any)
To hear any deputations received from members of the public in accordance with Standing Order 32.
No requests for deputations were received.
The Mayor informed Members that no requests for any deputations had been received for this meeting.
Questions from Members of the Public & Brent Youth Parliament
6.1 To receive questions submitted from members of the public to Cabinet Members, in accordance with Standing Order 33.
Members are asked to note that no questions have been submitted for this meeting of the Council.
6.2 To receive questions submitted from members of the Youth Parliament to Cabinet Members, in accordance with Standing Order 33 (d)
Members are asked to note that no questions have been submitted for this meeting of the Council.
No questions were received from the public or Brent Youth Parliament.
The Mayor informed Members that no questions had been received from members of the public or Brent Youth Parliament for consideration at the 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 requests were received for debates on any petitions.
The Mayor confirmed that no requests for debates on any petitions under the Council’s petition rules and Standing Order 66 had been received.
To receive the report from the Leader of the Council and Cabinet Members in accordance with Standing Order 31 setting out any key or significant issues arising from any matter within the responsibility of Cabinet.
NOTED the report and accompanying update provided by the Leader of the Council in relation to the ongoing financial challenges being experienced not just in Brent but within Local Authorities across the country as a result of the reduction in Central Government finance and the uncertainty around the outcome of the Fair Funding Review and Autumn Statement. Cabinet members were thanked for their individual updates provided within the report, with the opportunity also taken to highlight the collaborative work being undertaken with a range of strategic partners in relation to ownership and delivery of the Borough Plan being co-ordinated through Partners for Brent.
The Mayor began by reminding Members that under the changes agreed to the Constitution in February 2019 a total of three minutes had now been set aside for Council to receive and consider the update report from the Leader and Cabinet.
The Mayor explained that the changes had been designed to provide time for the Leader and any other Lead Members to speak in order to highlight any key or significant issues from within their portfolio with a written update from each of the Lead Members having already been circulated with the Summons. Once any further specific updates had been provided, he advised that the meeting would then move straight on to deal with questions from opposition and other non-cabinet members, which would include the opportunity to ask questions of relevant Lead Members.
The Mayor then invited the Leader to present the update report.
Reiterating the explanation provided, Councillor M.Butt (Leader of the Council) felt it was important to highlight that the change in procedure had been designed to enable members to focus their time on the opportunities available to question and hold Cabinet Members to account.
In terms of updates, the Leader reported that he and other Members had recently attended the LGA Annual Conference. One of the main issues highlighted at the event had been the ongoing financial challenges being experienced not just in Brent but within Local Authorities across the country as a result of the reduction in Central Government finance. Concerns had also been raised in relation to the uncertainty around the outcome of the Government’s Fair Funding Review and Autumn Statement, given the need for stability and continuity in order for local authorities to be able to continue planning for the provision of key services that local people depended on. He felt this remained one of biggest challenges faced by local authorities and their partners.
Lead Members were thanked for their individual updates provided within the report, with the opportunity also taken to highlight the collaborative work being undertaken with a range of strategic partners in relation to ownership and delivery of the Borough Plan and opportunities to engage in the London Borough of Culture being co-ordinated through Partners for Brent.
At this stage, the Mayor advised that the time available for this item had expired and it was therefore RESOLVED to formally note the updates provided by the Leader and Cabinet prior to moving on to councillor questions.
For questions to be put to members of the Cabinet by opposition and 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 (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 Schools, Employment and Skills to a question submitted by Councillor Kennelly regarding the approach being taken to the teaching of relationship education within schools.
2. The written response provided by the Lead Member for Environment to a question submitted by Councillor Hassan regarding the scale of carbon reduction being delivered through the roll-out of borough wide LED street lighting. No supplementary question was asked
3. The written response and supplementary verbal response provided by the Deputy Leader in relation to a question submitted by Councillor Saqib Butt regarding Council Tax and non-recoverable arrears and measures being taken to support residents struggling with payments and charges, including progress with the Anti-Poverty policy and Council Tax Protocol developed in consultation with Citizens Advice.
4. The written and supplementary verbal response provided by the Lead Member for Regeneration, Property and Planning to a question submitted by Councillor Maurice regarding the support available and rates charged for local traders renting space within the Civic Centre.
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 Johnson seeking further details on the criteria and support for the possible extension of the Streets for School initiative across Brent.
· Councillor Kelcher regarding the management and scheduling of the road works at the junction of Furness Road and Harrow Road in Kensal Green and ways in which the process, communication and scheduling of combined works with utilities companies could be improved in future.
· Councillor Nerva regarding what action it would be possible to take in highlighting concerns about performance and in securing improvements to operation of the Euston to Watford Junction train line with TfL and Network Rail. The Lead Member for Environment advised that she would be willing to raise the issue with TfL and Network Rail in order for an update to be provided.
· Councillor Long requesting an update on progress with adoption and implementation of the British Sign Language Charter by the Council.
· Councillor Kennelly seeking an assurance regarding the continued involvement of local ward councillors as part of the formal consultation process now being undertaken regarding the future of Roe Green Strathcona School.
· Councillor S.Choudhary and Thakkar regarding the approach towards the teaching of relationship education within schools.
· Councillor Dar regarding the removal of litter bins across the borough and ways in which the impact could be mitigated around schools.
· Councillor Kennelly seeking further details on the support available for those within the Armed Forces looking to gain access back into employment, with reference to the Armed Forces Covenant.
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 for this item, which would begin with consideration of the written questions submitted in advance of the meeting along with any supplementary questions. Once these had been dealt with, the remaining time available would then be opened up for any other non-Cabinet members to question Lead 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 Lead Member. The written responses supplied had been circulated with the Council agenda. The following supplementary questions were then received:
12.1 Councillor Kennelly thanked Councillor Agha (Lead Member for Schools, Employment and Skills) for his response in relation to the Department for Education (DfE) guidance on the teaching of Relationship Education. Before moving on to his supplementary question he took the opportunity, following on from the Mayor’s Announcements, to also pay tribute to Pride and the LGBTQ+ community and to express his support for the Armed Forces community in recognition of Armed Forces Day. In terms of a supplementary question, whilst recognising that the Lead Member had acknowledged the challenges faced in addressing the myths surrounding the DfE guidance, Councillor Kennelly asked what further assurance could be provided in terms of the support being made available for schools in order to address any concerns or difficulties experienced.
In response, Councillor Agha advised that the Council was using a number of different strategies and methods such as the Brent School Partnership, the Schools Forum and the Annual School Governors Conference to disseminate advice and guidance and provide support to schools and their governors to assist them in complying with the statutory guidance. He felt it was important to remember, however, that the way in which the curriculum was taught would be a matter for individual schools and their Governing Bodies. Whilst expected to consult with parents prior to its introduction, schools and their Governing Bodies would have the ability to amend their final approach, if felt necessary, in order to support pupils and families at the school. He therefore reminded members of the importance of Governing Bodies and encouraged any members not already involved to consider becoming school governors in order to be able to individually offer their help and support.
12.2 Councillor Hassan confirmed that she had no supplementary question for Councillor Krupa Sheth in relation to the response provided on the scale of carbon reductions relating to the roll-out of the borough wide LED street lighting programme.
12.3 Having thanked Councillor McLennan (Deputy Leader) for her response in relation to council tax arrears, Councillor S.Butt asked the Deputy Leader if further details could be provided about the measures being taken to support residents struggling with payments and charges, including progress with the Anti-Poverty policy and Council Tax Protocol developed in consultation with Citizens Advice (which he commended the ... view the full minutes text for item 12.
To receive a report from the Assistant Chief Executive presenting the 2018-19 Annual Scrutiny Report.
AGREED that Council note the Annual Overview & Scrutiny Report 2018-19.
The Mayor advised that, followingthe change agreed to the order of the agenda, the meeting would now move on to deal with the Overview & Scrutiny Committee Annual Report for 2018-19.
Referring to the accompanying report from the Assistant Chief Executive, which contained the Annual Report, he advised members that as this related to the work undertaken by all three of the Scrutiny Committees in the last year, his intention was to seek a variation to Standing Order 42 in order to allow each Chair to speak when introducing the report. As no objections were received the variation to Standing Order 42 was agreed and the Mayor advised that he would therefore allow each Chair up to one and a half minutes in order to introduce their section of the Annual Report.
The Mayor then invited Councillors Long, Kelcher & Ketan Sheth to jointly introduce the Annual Report.
Councillor Long, began by introducing the report of the former Housing Scrutiny Committee, highlighting that whilst much had been achieved during the operation of the Committee some slippage had occurred in terms of the delivery of recommendations agreed following various reviews undertaken. Specific reference was made to delivery of the Brent Housing Asset Management Strategy on which additional scrutiny had been recommended. Councillor Long advised that it had been an enjoyable experience serving on scrutiny and, highlighting a need to ensure a continued focus on housing, advised that this would be something she continued to monitor moving forward.
Councillor Kelcher then introduced the report relating to work undertaken by the Resources and Public Realm Scrutiny Committee highlighting what he regarded as the following five key achievements:
· the ability to be able to set the agenda citing as examples the recommendations made as a result of the review of the draft budget proposals in relation to library hours and a tourist tax along with proposals (as a separate review) to increase recycling in flats;
· the increasing levels of engagement with the local media;
· the range of external visits undertaken by the Committee during the year in order to better understand issues and raise awareness;
· the increasing levels of engagement with the public as a means of raising awareness around scrutiny; and finally
· development of the external focus of scrutiny including, as an example, a review undertaken with the Football Association in relation to the economic impact of Wembley Stadium; work in relation to Air Quality and a visit to the House of Commons which had been reported in the Brent Magazine.
Councillor Ketan Sheth then concluded the introduction by highlighting what he felt had been the important principles underpinning the work undertaken by the Community and Wellbeing Scrutiny Committee as outlined within the Annual Report. These had included:
· the aim of the Committee to identify and commence work on significant issues at an early stage, with the example provided of the meeting held in order to review plans being developed for delivery of the London Borough of Culture;
· seeking to engage and involve as ... view the full minutes text for item 13.
To receive reports from the Chairs of the Council’s Scrutiny Committees in accordance with Standing Order 36. The reports have been attached as follows:
11.1 Community and Wellbeing Scrutiny Committee
11.2 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 and Resources & Public Realm Scrutiny Committees.
Responses were also provided by the relevant Scrutiny Chairs on the following additional questions raised during the open session of this part of the meeting:
· Councillor Nerva regarding the approach towards future scrutiny of the police following introduction of the tri borough command structure.
· Councillor Dar on the prospect of Brent Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) being encouraged to oppose the proposed closure by Barnet CCG of a GP practice on the border of Cricklewood, which would also impact on Brent residents.
· Councillor Choudry seeking further details on the approach being developed in relation to scrutiny of the 2019/20 – 2020/21 budget.
· Councillor Gill regarding the process for scrutinising the proposals to alter the present opening hours for the Urgent Care Centre based at Central Middlesex Hospital.
· Councillor S.Choudhary expressing concern that targets in relation to child immunisation were not being met and what action could be taken in following up the scrutiny review on this issue.
· Councillor Kansagra on the response provided regarding plans to replace the Council’s fleet of diesel vehicles and whether the fleet would be subject to the same surcharges as introduced for diesel vehicles within CPZs.
· Councillor Gbajumo seeking further details on the introduction of a scrutiny recommendation and data request tracker.
Before being presented with the updates from each Scrutiny Chair, the Mayor reminded Members that as part of the changes agreed to the Constitution in February 2019 the time set aside for this item was now 12 minutes, with each Chair having up to three minutes in which to highlight any significant issues arising from the work of their Committees. 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:
14.1 Community & Wellbeing Scrutiny Committee
Councillor Ketan Sheth introduced the update report from his Committee, highlighting the following issues:
· The current focus on the significant changes impacting on local health services, with the Committee due to review a proposal from Brent Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) to alter the present opening hours for the Urgent Care Centre based at Central Middlesex Hospital. When the A&E units at Central Middlesex and Hammersmith Hospitals had been closed, as part of the Shaping a Healthier future (SaHF) initiative, an assurance had been provided that the Urgent Care Centre at Central Middlesex would be available to treat residents with minor illnesses and injuries on a 24/7 basis. Brent CCG were now proposing that due to its limited use in the early hours the Unit should be closed from midnight to 8am in order to better utilise available resources. As a result, the Scrutiny Committee would be seeking assurances in relation to communication with residents regarding the proposed changes, alternative measures to be established for those requiring treatment outside of any revised opening hours; the impact on patient safety and whether it would be possible to reverse any reduction in hours to cope with additional seasonal demand and what the likely impact would be on Northwick Park A&E and Urgent Care Centre should the proposed change go ahead.
· In addition, he advised that the Committee would be closely monitoring the proposed merger of the eight separate CCGs across North West London into one single body as part of implementation of the new NHS Long Term Plan and Integrated Care System. As a member of the North West London Joint Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee, Councillor Sheth advised that he had recently been able to question the Chief Officer of the North West London Collaboration of CCGs on the proposal and timescales involved. Whilst it was recognised that the merger was still to be agreed by NHS England, Councillor Sheth had been keen to stress the need to avoid rushing into any arrangement given the huge scale of the change proposed, which would not only impact on over 2.2 million residents but also involve significant financial, governance and accountability issues needing to be resolved. Whilst the NHS appeared keen to complete the merger process by 2020 he advised the Committee were also keen to ... view the full minutes text for item 14.
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 Committee.
In terms of issues highlighted, Councillor Choudry drew members attention to the important work undertaken by the Committee in reviewing and approving the Council’s Statement of Accounts, following their preparation and review by the Council’s External Auditors. He was pleased to be able to report that no significant issues had been identified or were anticipated in terms of the final approval process. He was also pleased to be have been able to welcome the Council’s newly appointed External Auditors (Grant Thornton) whilst also taking the opportunity to commend the work being undertaken by the Council’s Internal Audit function.
Focussing specifically on the Internal Audit remit in relation to compliance and control, he highlighted the range of work being undertaken in monitoring and follow-up on internal audit recommendations, particularly where risks or control issues had been identified. He also highlighted the important role played by the Committee in developing and monitoring delivery of the Internal Audit work programme which, given its significance, he was keen to encourage as many members to engage with as possible.
Finally, Councillor Choudry also took the opportunity to draw members’ attention to the Corporate Risk Register and Annual Governance Statement, which had both recently been subject to review and approval by the Committee. He was keen to ensure that members were aware of the importance of both documents given their significance to the Councils overall control and governance arrangements.
The Mayor thanked Councillor Choudry for his update and it was RESOLVED that the content of the report be noted.
Non Cabinet Members' Debate
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 any reports required from Cabinet members on issues previously raised.
Members are asked to note that the subject identified for debate at this meeting is as follows:
Delivery of change by the Mayor of London
The motion put forward as the basis of this debate has been attached.
No subject was identified for debate.
The Mayor reported that no item had been submitted for debate at this meeting and therefore move on to the next item on the agenda.
To receive a report from the Assistant Chief Executive updating Council about existing fire safety arrangements for housing in Brent and actions that the local authority has taken to improve fire safety in council-managed properties since the tragedy at Grenfell Tower in 2017. The report also provides and update about fire safety arrangements for the private sector and Registered Providers.
AGREED that Council note the report providing an update on fire safety arrangements for housing across the borough.
Councillor Eleanor Southwood (Lead Member for Housing and Welfare Reform) introduced a report from Assistant Chief Executive, outlining the Fire Safety arrangements for housing in Brent.
Introducing the report, she highlighted that keeping residents safe in their homes remained one of the Council’s top priorities, with the report having been prepared to provide an update on fire safety activities being undertaken or led by the Council in response to the Grenfell Tower tragedy. Members were advised that the report included actions being taken by the Council in relation of its own housing stock, which included intrusive fire safety checks to highlight areas of risk and the development of a programme of works designed to address fire safety issues including improvements to fire doors, installation of sprinkler systems in high rise blocks and the introduction of a zero tolerance approach towards litter and rubbish in communal areas.
In addition, Councillor Southwood highlighted the close work being undertaken by the Council with Housing Associations and took the opportunity to particularly thank the residents of Merle and Dan Courts for their patience during the disruption recently experienced as residents of Catalyst Housing Association. The report had also focussed on action being taken in relation to landlords in the Private Rented Hosing Sector, which was being driven and regulated through the mandatory, additional and selective private sector and Houses in Multiple Occupation landlord licensing schemes. Councillor Southwood felt these schemes remained the best way to regulate safety and ensure compliance, with all members and local residents encouraged to participate in the consultation on extension of the scheme currently being undertaken. Given the range of activity identified, Councillor Southwood advised she had no hesitation in commending the report and recommendations to Council.
The Mayor then opened up the debate for other members to speak on the report.
Councillor Johnson welcomed the report and thanked Councillor Southwood for the update provided. Whilst recognising the importance of the work being undertaken he felt there was also a need to outline the extent of the costs involved and to challenge the level of funding being provided by Central Government to support local authorities in undertaking this work.
Recognising the role undertaken by Housing Scrutiny Committee in monitoring and reviewing the Council’s response towards fire safety, Councillor Long felt it was also important to consider the control of parking on housing estates, given the problems identified in relation to blockages and access for emergency vehicles.
As no further members had indicated they wished to speak Councillor Southwood, in exercising her right of reply, responded to the issues raised during the debate by highlighting that the Council’s Cabinet had agreed to invest £10m in terms of capital funding to support the programme of housing fire safety works. Whilst funding had been sought from Central Government as a means of recouping these costs this had been unsuccessful. She pointed out that whilst the Government had subsequently made it easier for Housing Associations and Private Sector landlords to claim back funding for ... view the full minutes text for item 17.
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).
16.1 The following motion submitted by the Labour Group was approved:
Standing up to racism, discrimination and prejudice in Brent
This Council notes:
Brent Council adopted the definition of antisemitism in September 2017, including its examples, set out by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, and now, seeks to adopt the definition of Islamophobia, including its examples, as set out by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on British Muslims.
The charity Tell Mama reported that in the week after 50 innocent, Muslim worshippers were massacred in the Christchurch New Zealand terror attack, Islamophobicincidents increased by almost 600 per cent back in Britain.
This Council believes:
That words have consequences within political discourse.
We unequivocally condemn all forms of pernicious racism, Islamophobia, antisemitism, homophobia, transphobia, ageism, pregnancy and maternity discrimination, ableism and sexism and reaffirm our commitment to fighting against them.
This Council resolves:
To adopt the APPG on British Muslims – Working Definition of Islamophobia as follows:
“Islamophobia is rooted in racism and is a type of racism that targets expressions of Muslimness or perceived Muslimness.”
Contemporary examples of Islamophobia in public life, the media, schools, the workplace, and in encounters between religions and non-religions in the public sphere could, taking into account the overall context, include, but are not limited to:
· Calling for, aiding, instigating or justifying the killing or harming of Muslims in the name of a racist/ fascist ideology, or an extremist view of religion.
· Making mendacious, dehumanizing, demonizing, or stereotypical allegations about Muslims as such, or of Muslims as a collective group, such as, especially but not exclusively, conspiracies about Muslim entryism in politics, government or other societal institutions; the myth of Muslim identity having a unique propensity for terrorism, and claims of a demographic ‘threat’ posed by Muslims or of a ‘Muslim takeover’.
· Accusing Muslims as a group of being responsible for real or imagined wrongdoing committed by a single Muslim person or group of Muslim individuals, or even for acts committed by non-Muslims.
· Accusing Muslims as a group, or Muslim majority states, of inventing or exaggerating Islamophobia, ethnic cleansing or genocide perpetrated against Muslims.
· Accusing Muslim citizens of being more loyal to the ‘Ummah’ (transnational Muslim community) or to their countries of origin, or to the alleged priorities of Muslims worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations.
· Applying double standards by requiring of Muslims behaviours that are not expected or demanded of any other groups in society, e.g. loyalty tests.
· Using the symbols and images associated with classic Islamophobia (e.g. the Prophet Muhammed being a paedophile, claims of Muslims spreading Islam by the sword or subjugating minority groups under their rule) to characterize Muslims as being ‘sex groomers’, inherently violent or incapable of living harmoniously in plural societies.
· Holding Muslims collectively responsible for the actions of any Muslim majority state, whether secular or constitutionally Islamic.
16.2 The following motion submitted by the Conservative Group was not approved:
Surcharge on diesel Vehicle Owners
This Council notes, with grave concern, the surcharges ... view the full decision text for item 18.
Before moving on to consider the motions listed on the summons, the Mayor reminded members of the changes agreed last year to the way in which the debate on motions would be undertaken. He advised that a total of 30 minutes would be set aside for the consideration of all three motions submitted for debate, based on an initial allocation of 10 minutes per motion. Should the time taken to consider the first motion be less than 10 minutes he advised that the remaining time available would be split between the remaining motions on a rolling basis.
18.1 Motion from the Labour Group - Standing up to racism, discrimination and prejudice in Brent (adopting the definition of Islamophobia as set out by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on British Muslims)
Prior to inviting Councillor Shahzad to move the first motion, the Mayor reminded Members that given the subject matter to be considered, the Council had a statutory duty to have “due regard” to the need to eliminate discrimination, harassment and victimisation and advance equality of opportunity and foster good relations between persons who shared a protected characteristic and persons who did not. This was known as the public sector equality duty with the protected characteristics relevant to the motion including race and religion or belief. At the same time, he pointed out that Members would, however, be free to express their own political opinions during the debate.
The Mayor then invited Councillor Shahzad to move the motion submitted on behalf of the Labour Group.
Councillor Shahzad advised he was honoured to move the motion to oppose Islamophobia which, he felt, reinforced the message that the London Borough of Brent was a truly diverse, multi-cultural and multi-religious society and a borough that cared about and respected all its residents. He felt this aspect of the borough’s culture had also been reflected in the motion previously adopted to oppose anti-Semitism and was concerned to see any form of intolerance taking place in Brent, whether against Muslims or people of other faiths. Highlighting what he felt was the worrying advance of the far right, he pointed out how this was causing fear and concern within the Muslim community who wanted to be able to live a peaceful and productive life and convey the universal message of peace and friendship to all. The motion, he felt, highlighted the need for action to be taken in order to prevent the targeting of hate on people and communities based on their faith whilst also encouraging people to stand together in order to demonstrate that racism and hatred towards Muslims or any other faith would no longer be tolerated.
In commending the motion to Members, Councillor Shahzad believed its adoption would strengthen community relations and deliver the message that Brent was united in standing up for everyone regardless of their faith.
The Mayor then invited other Members to speak on the motion, with the following contributions received.
Councillor Dar, speaking in support of the motion, highlighted what he ... view the full minutes text for item 18.
At the discretion of the Mayor to consider any urgent business, in accordance with Standing Order 37 (r).
The Mayor advised Members there were no urgent items of business for consideration. Before closing the meeting, he took the opportunity to wish all Members a restful break over the summer prior to the next Full Council meeting on 16 September 2019.
The meeting was declared closed at 8:25pm.