Agenda item

Motions

To debate the motions submitted in accordance with Standing Order 45.

Minutes:

10.1  Motion from Labour Group – Challenging Hate, Championing Cohesion

 

The Mayor invited Councillor Nerva to move the motion from the Labour Group who began by highlighting what he felt was one of the main benefits about living in Brent, which was the strength of cohesion between the different and diverse communities across the borough.  He recognised, however, that whilst a positive this did not prevent problems such as hate crime being experienced and in these instances the Council would have a role in not only supporting victims but also in seeking to tackle and prevent these type of problems.  Whilst the motion being moved was therefore a statement on hate crime, he felt it also needed to be considered alongside the motion on antisemitism, which had already been approved by a number of other neighbouring boroughs.

 

Adopting both motions would not, he pointed out, prevent the Council from focussing on other groups affected by hate crime or mean the Council had any form of hierarchy for dealing with hate crime.  He also referred to a letter sent to all Councillors by the Board of Deputies which had urged them to support the motions on both hate crime and antisemitism.  In addition Councillor Nerva took the opportunity to highlight the outstanding co-operation and joint working already in existence between Muslim and Jewish communities within the borough.  He also felt it was important to recognise, as highlighted within the motion, the increase in hate crime being reported against EU nationals since the EU Referendum.  In summing up, he urged Members to support both motions and also the activities planned during the forthcoming Hate Crime Week.

 

Councillor Warren, speaking on behalf of the Brent Conservative Group, advised that his Group had no concern about supporting the motion as a measure designed to maintain and enhance the strong community relations across the borough.  He felt it was important for all Members to condemn and for the Council to continue to challenge and tackle hate crime in whatever form it was experienced.

 

Finally the Mayor invited Councillor Colwill to respond to the motion on behalf of the Conservative Group.  Councillor Colwill advised that he fully supported the comments already made by Councillors Nerva and Warren and felt it important to also highlight the strong community relations within the borough and need to continue to tackle all forms of hate crime.

 

The motion (as set out below) was then put to the vote by a show of hands and declared CARRIED.

 

“Brent Council expresses grave alarm and concern at the upswing in hate crime, discriminatory acts and violations of dignity in the last year across the United Kingdom.

 

We condemn racism and xenophobia as well as all other forms of discrimination (including but not limited to discrimination on the grounds of disability, sex, acts of homophobia, religious intolerance, ageism and any other violations of human rights such as modern slavery) as flagrant breaches of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

 

The council is deeply concerned about the surge in religious hatred, such as antisemitism and islamophobia and strongly condemn all forms of discrimination against religious beliefs. This may constitute expressions of hatred, rhetorical and physical manifestations of religious hatred, including against property, community institutions and religious facilities.

 

Brent Council welcomes the publication of “Hate Crime: A guide to those affected”. This much needed guide results from a ground-breaking collaborative approach involving the Community Security Trust, Tell MAMA, The Crown Prosecution Service and the Department for Communities and Local Government.

 

The council unequivocally condemns hate crimes against EU nationals which have seen a rise in the last year. We recognise the essential contribution that EU nationals make to our workforce and communities; the council will continue to help and support this group in any way that we can.

 

Brent Council pledges to combat all forms of pernicious racism and reiterates that any form of hate crime and discrimination (including discriminatory and mendacious statements or publications, harassment, bullying or victimisation) will not be tolerated in our workforce and communities.

 

The diversity of the borough and the cohesion between its different communities are major strengths and assets of Brent. We reassure our residents and employees that we continue to provide support for victims of acts described above, to report incidents and will within our powers, take action wherever possible against perpetrators who commit such heinous acts.”

 

10.2  Motion from Conservative Group – Adoption of International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance Definition of Antisemitism

 

The Mayor advised Members that as a result of the change in political membership on the Council late notice had been received of an alteration to the mover and wording of the original motion.  As this had been received after the deadline, the Mayor advised he would need to seek Members approval to waive Standing Order 45(d) in order to permit the Leader of the Conservative Group to now alter the motion as follows:

 

·                Deletion of the following sentence and all bullet points listed after: “The guidelines highlight manifestations of antisemitism as including:”; and

 

·                Amend the final paragraph to read “This Council welcomes the cross-party support within the Council for combatting antisemitism in all its manifestations and pledges to combat this pernicious form of racism.”

 

The alteration had also been detailed as part of the supplementary agenda issued in advance of the meeting.

 

The procedural motion to suspend Standing Order 45(d) in order to enable the motion to be altered was put to the vote by a show of hands and declared LOST.

 

As a result, the Chief Executive advised Members that the motion to be considered would be the original version submitted in the name of Councillor Davidson and the Conservative Group and published with the main agenda.  Whilst Councillor Davidson, had subsequently joined the Brent Conservative Group he moved the motion with the consent of Councillor Colwill, as Leader of the Conservative Group.

 

Councillor Davidson began by highlighting his strong support for the motion which would involve the Council joining with 100 other local authorities in adopting the  IHR Alliance definition on Antisemitism.  In moving the motion, he felt it was important to recognise the rise in hate crime and its particular impact on Jewish communities across the UK, with recorded incidents of antisemitism in the UK at their highest levels since the 1980’s.  He therefore also welcomed the Government’s intention to sign up to the definition.

 

Whilst recognising that the guidelines included as part of the definition had caused some concern, he felt there was nothing included within them that members should not want to sign up to.  As a Council, he felt Brent had a duty to condemn all forms of hate crime and racism within the borough including antisemitism, which he pointed out had been a longstanding issue.  He therefore urged all members to support the motion on a cross party basis.

 

Following the original motion having been moved, the Mayor advised Members of a further amendment submitted by Councillor Choudhury, the details of which had also been included on the supplementary papers published in advance of the meeting.  Councillor Choudhury formally moved the amendment, highlighting that the intention was to help clarify and seek a cross party consensus on the definition.  The Chief Executive clarified the amendment was as follows:

 

To delete the sentence in the original motion:

 

“The guidelines highlight manifestations of antisemitism as including:”

 

and replace with:

 

“The guidelines highlight possible manifestations of antisemitism as sometimes including:”

 

To delete bullet point 7 in the original motion:

 

“ Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination e.g. by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavour.”

 

and replace as bullet point 7 with:

 

“Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination provided Palestine rights of self-determination are also recognised.”

 

Prior to being put to the vote, Councillor Butt advised of an alteration to the above amendment which Councillor Choudhury confirmed he would be willing to accept.  The alteration was as follows:

 

Amendment to bullet point 7 to read:

 

“Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination provided Palestine alongside Palestinian rights of self-determination are also recognised.”

 

The amendment, as altered, was then put to the vote by a show of hands and declared CARRIED.

 

The Mayor then invited Councillor Miller, on behalf of the Labour Group to respond to the substantive motion (as amended).  Councillor Miller began by highlighting the motion already agreed on hate crime, and of the commitment of the Council to tackle all forms of hate crime as set out in the Stronger Communities Strategy including antisemitism.  Whilst a number of views had been expressed on the definition, including those worried about its impact on free speech, there had also been a number implying some form of hierarchy of bigotry in terms of how hate crime was tackled, which he advised was not a concept supported or recognised by the current Administration.  He highlighted a need to recognise the statement “Never Again” as a call for action which was also supported by the Community Safety Trust and felt that the amendment agreed would ensure concerns expressed in relation to the definition and criticism of Israel could be addressed whilst also preserving a clear definition of antisemitism.  He therefore advised that the Labour Group would be willing to support the motion (as amended).

 

As Conservative Members advised that had no further comments to make, the substantive motion (as amended and set out below) was then put to the vote by show of hands and declared CARRIED.

 

“This Council notes with alarm the rise in antisemitism in recent years across the UK. This includes incidents when criticism of Israel has been expressed using antisemitic tropes. Criticism of Israel can be legitimate, but not if it employs the tropes and imagery of antisemitism.

 

We therefore welcome the UK Government’s announcement on December 11th 2016 that it will sign up to the internationally recognised International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) guidelines on antisemitism which define antisemitism thus:

 

“Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”

 

The guidelines highlight possible manifestations of antisemitism as sometimes including:

 

·                Calling for, aiding, or justifying the killing or harming of Jews in the name of a radical ideology or an extremist view of religion.

·                Making mendacious, dehumanizing, demonizing, or stereotypical allegations about Jews as such or the power of Jews as collective — such as, especially but not exclusively, the myth about a world Jewish conspiracy or of Jews controlling the media, economy, government or other societal institutions.

·                Accusing Jews as a people of being responsible for real or imagined wrongdoing committed by a single Jewish person or group, or even for acts committed by non-Jews.

·                Denying the fact, scope, mechanisms (e.g. gas chambers) or intentionality of the genocide of the Jewish people at the hands of National Socialist Germany and its supporters and accomplices during World War II (the Holocaust).

·                Accusing the Jews as a people, or Israel as a state, of inventing or exaggerating the Holocaust.

·                Accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations.

·                Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination alongside Palestinian rights of self-determination.

·                Applying double standards by requiring of it behaviour not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.

·                Using the symbols and images associated with classic antisemitism (e.g., claims of Jews killing Jesus or blood libel) to characterize Israel or Israelis.

·                Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.

·                Holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel.

 

This Council welcomes the cross-party support within the Council for combating antisemitism in all its manifestations. This Council hereby adopts the above definition of antisemitism as set out by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance and pledges to combat this pernicious form of racism.”

 

10.3  Motion from Brent Conservative Group - Brent Planning System

 

The Mayor invited Councillor Warren to move the motion from the Brent Conservative Group who highlighted what he felt to be the public loss in confidence in Brent’s Planning system.  In order to restore resident’s confidence in the system, he felt there was a need for an independent review into all aspects of the planning process.

 

Councillor Tatler, responding on behalf of the Labour Group, highlighted that the planning process had already been subject to independent review with progress against the recommendations made being monitored through the Audit Advisory Committee.  She also highlighted what she felt to be the lack of constructive engagement by the Brent Conservative Group in the review process and advised that on this basis the Labour Group would not be prepared to support what they felt to be an unnecessary and costly additional review.

 

In exercising his right of reply, Councillor Warren highlighted what he felt was the serious nature of the concerns raised by local residents which he felt therefore justified further review.

 

As Conservative Group Members advised that had no comments to make, the motion (as set out below) was then put to the vote by show of hands and declared LOST.

 

“This Council notes that our residents have lost confidence in the Brent planning system.

 

Residents tell us that consultations are mere public relation exercises, that decisions are often perverse and some seemingly politically motivated.

 

We note last year's damning report on the Brent planning service by PWC, and agree to hold an independent inquiry into every aspect of the planning process. This Council agrees that this is the only way that we can hope to restore residents' confidence in our planning service.”

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