Reports from the Leader and Cabinet
To receive reports from the Leader and Cabinet Members in accordance with Standing Order 31.
In accordance with Standing Order 31, the Council received reports from the Leader of the Council and Cabinet Members as follows:
(i) Councillor Butt (Leader of the Council)
In accordance with Standing Order 14 (f) Councillor Butt reported use of the Key Decision and Forward Plan urgency procedure in relation to the following decisions:
· Agreement of Final Terms of Shared ICT Service Inter-Authority Agreement;
· Award of a contract for CRM Implementation;
· Authority to Award Works Contract for South Kilburn Enterprise and Community Hub (Phase 1b);
· Acquisition of land at 136 Honeypot Lane; and
· Award of Microsoft Dynamics 365 Licences.
(ii) Councillor McLennan (Deputy Leader of the Council)
Councillor McLennan advised she was pleased to be able to announce the bringing back in house of another service – procurement. In addition she advised that Brent had been the first London Borough to sign off a Council Tax Protocol which would involve the Council Tax enforcement team and Citizens Advice working together to assist those in Council Tax arrears managing their debt. She then concluded her update by advising Members of steps being taken to review cleaner environment investments by the Council’s Pension Fund.
(iii) Councillor Tatler (Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Growth, Employment and Skills)
Councillor Tatler took the opportunity to highlight some of what she felt had been the key achievements within her portfolio remit over the length of the current Administration, which were as follows:
· More than 6,000 new homes built, with one of the highest levels of affordable housing delivered across London;
· The delivery of 50% social housing as part of the award winning South Kilburn re development programme;
· Over £1m of Neighbourhood Community Infrastructure Levy (CiL) funding allocated to projects across the borough;
· The support being provided for small and medium enterprise, high streets and town centres across the borough through the introduction of Town Centre Managers;
· The education delivered for over 8,000 learners through the Brent Starts adult education service with a 94% achievement rate and the service being rated a Good by OFSTED;
· The success of Brent Works in securing employment and apprenticeships for over 400 people; and
· The securing of over 1,000 sq. ft. of workspace for local businesses;
Thanks were expressed to all officers and members involved for their efforts and support in delivery of the above achievements and ongoing work to support residents and the local economy.
(iv) Councillor Southwood (Cabinet Member for Environment)
Councillor Southwood also took the opportunity to highlight some of what she felt had been the key achievements within her portfolio remit over the length the of the current Administration, which were as follows:
· Performance of the refuge collection service with over 25,000 bins being cleared each day and on average only 12 missed collections;
· Work being undertaken to prioritise air quality, sustainable transport and a reduction in carbon emissions and footprint;
· The roll out of LED lighting across the borough with accompanying savings of £850k per year and delivering over a third of the Council’s commitment towards its carbon reduction targets;
· Delivery of the first completely segregated cycleway in Carlton Vale and Quietway from Gladstone Park to Regents Park;
· The introduction of dockless cycles to the borough as a means of encouraging greater and more affordable access to cycling;
· The increase in electric vehicle charging points across the borough which would also contribute towards the Mayor for London’s aim of encouraging the private hire and taxi fleet in London to move towards electric;
· Whilst recognising the challenges identified as a result of the earlier deputation regarding Evelyn Avenue in relation to road and pavement repairs it was possible to report the repair of over 26,000 reported road defects alongside the resurfacing of 42 miles of road and 19 miles of replacement paving.
Once again officers and Members were thanked for their support in delivery of the above achievements given the challenging ongoing financial position for the Council.
(v) Councillor Miller (Cabinet Member for Stronger Communities)
Councillor Miller began by expressing his support for PC Christopher Appleton and Samantha Clark who he advised had been the police officers injured in a recent traffic incident on the North Circular Road. On behalf of all Members he wished both officers a full and speedy recovery.
He also advised Members that he was grateful for the recent reports of anti-Semitic graffiti in the North of the Borough, which had been passed to the police for investigation. He pointed out that the Council would continue to work with the police to tackle all forms of hate crime and anti-Semitism in the borough and reminded Members of the event to commemorate Holocaust Memorial Day that would be taking place at the Civic Centre on Thursday 25 January 2018.
In terms of other issues, he highlighted the progress being made on roll out of the £2.3m investment in CCTV as part of the Safer Brent Initiative and with introduction of the Public Space Protection Orders designed to tackle Street Drinking in problem areas supported by a review of Licensing Policy. A review had also been completed on the policy and approach towards tackling Domestic Violence and Abuse aimed at ensuring earlier intervention. Finally Members were reminded that that the results of the bidding process for the London Borough of Culture were due to be announced on 27 February 2018, with Brent having submitted a strong submission.
(vi) Councillor Patel (Cabinet Member for Children and Young People)
Councillor Patel began by wishing all teaching staff, parents and pupils a happy new year and congratulating everyone for their efforts in achieving the best ever exam results in Brent during 2017, which it was hoped would be maintained in 2018.
Whilst welcoming the Governments U-turn on proposals to force all schools to become Academies by 2022 she expressed concern that the government now appeared to be pursuing their agenda in a different way. Specific reference was made to changes in the school funding formula and partnering arrangements which she felt had made it more difficult for headteachers and governors, including those at Village School, not to consider seeking Academy status as an option. As Cabinet Member she did not support the government’s policy on Academies, highlighting instead what were felt to be the advantages for schools remaining within the Brent family of schools. She had therefore welcomed the governor’s decision at Village School to undertake further consultation on the move towards seeking Academy status.
In terms of other updates, Councillor Patel advised members that she had recently attended the Brent Care Council at which the Brent Pledge had been updated and had also attended the Brent Parent Carers Forum resulting in positive feedback on how the Forum was being listened to. She ended by reminding Members that the next training session on the Council’s Corporate Parenting role was due to take place on Tuesday 22 January 2018, which had been identified as mandatory for councillors.
(vii) Councillor Farah (Cabinet Member for Housing and Welfare Reform)
Councillor Farah advised Members that good progress continued to be made across the housing service with the integration of Brent Housing Partnership successfully completed in October 2017 and progress being made on the accompanying reorganisation of housing management services to ensure continued improvements in performance.
The Council continued to respond well to the Grenfell Tower tragedy and were confident in terms of action being taken to address concerns regarding fire safety. Members were reminded that the requirements within the Homelessness Reduction Act were due to come into effect from April 2018, with the Council’s homelessness service well placed to deliver the new requirements.
In addition, Councillor Farah, advised Members that the Council was currently awaiting a response from the Secretary of State on its application to extend the Selective Licensing Scheme and had been one of only six London Boroughs selected to contribute towards work being undertaken by the GLA around this issue, including development of a rogue landlord database and work with local housing providers. He ended by advising Members that whilst not welcoming the planned roll-out of Universal Credit across the Borough during 2018 the Council had planned and were ready for its implementation.
(viii) Councillor Hirani (Cabinet Member for Community Wellbeing)
Councillor Hirani took the opportunity to highlight some of what he felt had been the key achievements within the area of Public Health and Adult Social Care over the length the of the current Administration, which were as follows:
· Delivery of a Carers Hub as the single point of contact for over 24,000 carers across Brent;
· Continuing to build out of the social care crisis through the delivery of 538 new independent living accommodation units. These would provide a better standard of accommodation for individuals whilst also saving the Council £332 each week in terms of the cost per unit;
· Improving the integration of health, mental health, housing and employment services to support those suffering mental health issues. Alongside this, the Council had also signed up to the Mental Health Challenge and were recognised as a “Time to Change” Borough committed to tackling mental health discrimination;
· Rebuilt John Billam Resource Centre;
· Worked with the NHS to create step down beds for hospital discharge;
· Continued to invest in the Disabled Facilities Grant;
· Banned the locating of new fast food outlets close to schools and worked with planning to restrict the opening of new Shisha Cafes;
· Introduced a Healthy Catering commitment for local businesses;
· Widened the smoking cessation service to cover issues related to shisha and chewed tobacco;
· Extended the Substance Misuse Service;
· Remained on track to deliver 19 outdoor gyms across the borough meaning no resident would be more than a mile away from their nearest facility by 2020 and continued to support a range of running groups and park runs located within the borough; and
· Continued to support schools around their healthy eating and physical activity programmes.
He ended by highlighting the financial pressure on the NHS and support from the current Council Administration for colleagues in attempting to maintain services suffering as a result of the Government’s financial constraints.
The Mayor thanked the Leader and Cabinet Members for the updates provided.