To debate any motions submitted in accordance with Standing Order 45.
(i) Motion from the Labour Group – Government Funding for Fire Safety
Councillor Conneely introduced the motion from the Labour Group. She said that she had worked with vulnerable young people and street homeless adults in Kensington and Chelsea for seven years. She said that the ultimate goal had been to move vulnerable individuals into a Council flat, because it was thought to guarantee them safety in every aspect of life. She highlighted that years of deregulation on building control standards and austerity imposed by the Conservative Government had undermined this, and had bred a culture of cost-cutting at the expense of residents’ safety. She referenced the measures that Brent had agreed to take in response to the fire, and added that the Council was under no illusion that these would be easily afforded. She concluded that this formed the basis for the Labour Group’s motion which sought clarity on funding for any post-Grenfell fire safety related works.
Councillor Warren said that he was disappointed by the Labour Group’s failure to acknowledge the reasons that austerity measures had been taken. He stated that the last Labour Government had left a massive deficit in the country’s finances which needed to be addressed immediately in 2010. He suggested that local government had its own role into helping to reduce the deficit because of the financial mistakes Labour had made in the past.
The motion was put to a vote by show of hands and declared CARRIED.
(ii) Motion from the Conservative Group – Grenfell Tower Tragedy
Councillor Davidson introduced the motion from the Conservative Group. He said that he and his Conservative colleagues had been deeply dismayed by the events at Grenfell. He said that hearts remained with the families of the tragedy and also offered his thanks to the emergency services and Brent Officers who assisted with the response effort. He praised Brent’s calm and measured approach in the aftermath and stated that the Government had also approached the issue sensibly. He cited the funding committed by the Government to help to rehouse the victims and the immediate review of high rise buildings across all local authorities, which included testing on any cladded buildings. He stated that the Conservative Group had put forward their motion because it was felt that there was no need to politicise such a terrible tragedy. He said that the Shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell MP, had inspired hatred with his comments after the disaster and that this did a disservice to the victims. He called for a calm and sober investigation into the causes of fire that mirrored the assured approach Brent had taken.
Councillor Butt stated that the Labour Group simply could not support the premise of the motion. He said that the Conservative Government’s cuts to local government finances and subsequent role in the tragedy needed to be accounted for. He criticised the Conservative Group for bringing the motion forward and stated that the Government had caused more confusion and delay in its response. He said that there was no confidence in the planned inquiry and also that the £5,500 offered to victims would not recompense victims in any way. He called on the Government to provide the funding necessary for fire safety improvements in local communities to ensure that all residents were safe.
Councillor Davidson responded and highlighted that mistakes had been made by Governments of both parties, and commented that the deregulation of fire safety building control had begun in 2005 under Labour. He added that it was embarrassing for the whole country that so many tower blocks had failed the recent fire safety tests. He said that it was infantile to politicise the issue and that he had been alarmed by some of the comments being shouted by residents from the public gallery. He stated that this type of behaviour was linked to the comments made by the Labour Party’s national leadership after the fire and re-iterated that a calm approach was needed.
The motion was put to a vote by show of hands and declared LOST.
(iii) Motion from the Brent Conservative Group – Tricycle Theatre
Councillor Warren introduced the motion from the Brent Conservative Group. He said that it had now become clear that the Labour Group had raised council taxes as a means to fund organisations that they were biased towards, like the Tricycle Theatre. He questioned why the Labour Group felt the award of a £1million grant to the Theatre was such a good news story and referenced its feature in the Brent magazine. He stated that there were community groups within the borough who had been shocked by the decision to award £1million to Tricycle Theatre and put forward that a bidding system to allow other community groups to also benefit from part of this grant should have been put in place. He also questioned why a grant had been given to an organisation which had a poor record on artistic discrimination and emphasised the Theatre’s cancellation of the Jewish Film Festival.
Councillor Davidson stated that Councillor Warren’s motion was mean-spirited and followed on from a failed campaign against the Willesden Temple. He referred to the cancellation of the Jewish Film Festival and said that whilst he had also been critical of the cancellation, the Tricycle Theatre had apologised and that it was time to move on from the issue. He said that Councillor Warren should have applauded the work of Tricycle Theatre because it was a cultural asset to the borough and that the Conservative Group rejected the motion outright.
Councillor Tatler encouraged Councillor Warren to attend Cabinet meetings in order to voice his concerns on the Council’s key decisions. She questioned why he was so against the Tricycle Theatre as it was a vital community resource, particularly in its work cultural work with young people, child refugees and the Irish traveller community. She also pointed out that Brent Council held the freehold to the Tricycle Theatre building and that it was in the Council’s best interests to protect and maintain its assets.
Councillor Warren responded that he frequently attended Cabinet to speak on contentious issues, but was often denied permission to speak by the Leader. He said that he had attended the relevant Cabinet meeting in question to speak on several items, but had not been granted the opportunity to do so.
The motion was put to a vote by show of hands and declared LOST.
- Motion from the Labour Group, item 16. PDF 65 KB
- Motion from the Conservative Group, item 16. PDF 63 KB
- Motion from the Brent Conservative Group, item 16. PDF 63 KB