To debate the motions submitted in accordance with Standing Order 41.
18.1 Motion from the Labour Group – Forward Together: Brent Council’s record of achievement
The Mayor invited Councillor Bradley to move the motion he had submitted on behalf of from the Labour Group. He began by advising of how proud he felt the Council should be of its achievements during the current and previous Labour Administration given the impact of the austerity measures introduced by the Government which had seen Local Authority budgets reduced by almost a half. Despite increasing demand on services and the significant financial challenges faced, Councillor Bradley felt it was possible to highlight a number of key achievements delivered within Brent designed to support local residents and communities.
As examples he referred to the following:
· The work undertaken in partnership with schools which had led to 97% now being rated as good or outstanding with pupil attainment also at record levels alongside investment in the school improvement programme;
· Investment of £190m to deliver improvements in roads, parks and libraries;
· Investment in Adult Social Care and social housing to assist more vulnerable residents and create a sustainable adult social care service;
· The innovative launch of I4B to manage Council investment in a programme of house purchases to increase the supply of affordable housing;
· The measures taken to tackle rouge landlords
· Accreditation of the Council as a London Living Wage employer and to promote wider accreditation through the Council’s procurement and commissioning strategies;
· Launch of the Cleaner Brent App;
· The Council’s partnership with Quintain which would deliver over 5000 new homes, 7000 jobs and £140m of CIL investment.
Councillor Bradley felt there were many more examples available but finished by advising that although not standing in the May 2018 local elections he would look forward to these achievements being continued by the new Labour Administration in 2018 and urged all Members to support the motion.
The Mayor then invited Councillor Warren, on behalf of the Brent Conservative Group to respond who set out what he felt to be a number of contradictions within the motion. Starting with Adult Social Care, he highlighted the record number of complaints currently being made to the Local Government Ombudsman alongside the fact that the motion failed to recognise the additional funding provided by the Government in support of Adult Social Care. In terms of libraries, which were also referred to in the motion, he highlighted the number of closures experienced with the transformation in service coming about as a result of community rather than Council involvement. In terms of the partnership with schools he again felt credit for any improved performance should rest with the schools themselves rather than the Council. He also highlighted significant concerns that had been raised regarding the Council’s relationships with local developers and did not support the view that the majority of Labour councillors had played any meaningful role in the decision making process in relation to any of the above examples. For these reasons he advised that the Brent Conservative Group would not be supporting the motion.
The Mayor then invited a further contribution from the Labour Group with Councillor Butt, as Leader of the Council, speaking in support of the motion. Councillor Butt began by querying the Oppositions view regarding the role played by members in the decision making process, highlighting the updates provided earlier in the meeting from the Chairs of each Scrutiny Committee as examples of the work and engagement of Members. He also highlighted the fact that it had been necessary to hold an Extraordinary Council Meeting (with the associated expense) to enable the necessary review of the political representation arrangements following the Opposition Group having unified.
Despite a reduction of over £105m to the Council’s budget imposed by Government he outlined how it had been possible for the Council to continue delivering major achievements for the benefit of its residents, which would be continued when the budget was set for 2018/19. As further examples of the initiatives being delivered he highlighted the investment of £400k to fund 12 additional police officers in Brent; the building of over 5000 new homes and receipt of over £14m in CIL funding; the bringing back in-house of the Brent Housing Partnership; achievements being made within the Brent Family of Schools and innovative approach towards tackling housing demand through the Council’s investment in the I4B programme. He felt these were all example of the type of achievements that could be delivered by a Labour Administration and therefore once again urged all Members to support the motion.
In exercising his right of reply, Councillor Bradley highlighted what he felt to be an important principle supporting the view that it had been possible for Members to influence and play an active role in the decision making process.
The motion (as set out below) was then put to the vote by a show of hands and declared CARRIED:
“This Council knows first-hand that, under a Conservative government, and prior to that, the Lib Dem-backed Tory coalition, local councils across the country have seen their funding cut by more than half.
This Council puts on record that, although immensely damaging to many of the essential services and support that residents and communities depend upon, as a result of the determination and innovation of local authorities of all political persuasions, the fullest impact of austerity has, thus far, been averted.
This Council takes pride in the fact that, in Brent, despite the enormous financial challenge, eight years of Labour stewardship have resulted in major achievements that include:
· Creating a sustainable adult social care service that ensures elderly residents can retain their independence for longer and continue to live with dignity;
· Transforming our libraries service into one of the most successful and most accessible in the country;
· Working in partnership with our schools such that 97% are now rated as either Good or Outstanding, and, as a result, our students are amongst the UK’s highest achieving; and
· In concert with developers, generating hundreds of millions of pounds in investment, building thousands of brand news homes of all tenures and affordability, creating good quality, skilled jobs, boosting the local economy, and rejuvenating neighbourhoods across the borough.
This Council recognises that, having managed to achieve so much on behalf of residents, despite huge cuts to its funding by a Conservative government, local Labour councillors have played an integral part in the decision making and scrutiny processes.
This Council looks forward to the 2018-2022 Labour administration; understands that, despite claims to the contrary, Conservative austerity will continue; and embraces the many challenges and opportunities that will present themselves.”
18.2 Motion from Brent Conservative Group – London Taxicard Scheme
The Mayor invited Councillor Warren to move the motion he had submitted on behalf of the Brent Conservative Group who began by highlighting how he felt the Mayor for London had failed to deliver on a number of promises. Despite managing to issue numerous press releases he felt the Mayor for London had failed residents in relation to the impact of the cuts proposed to the taxicard scheme, which he pointed out would impact on over 70,000 users of the service across London and 2-3,000 users in Brent all with serious mobility issues. He referred to examples of similar concerns being expressed by a number of other Labour controlled Councils across London and in supporting the motion felt it was important to recognise that the blame for this rested solely with the decision taken by the Mayor for London.
Following the original motion having been moved, the Mayor advised Members of an amendment submitted by Councillor Hirani, the details of which had been included with the second supplementary agenda published in advance of the meeting. Councillor Hirani formally moved the amendment highlighting what he felt to be the Government’s lack of support for the disabled and most vulnerable in society demonstrated through the introduction of Universal Credit, Independent Living Fund, Disability Living Allowance and wide ranging funding reductions for the NHS, Local Authorities and other organisations. He pointed out that Transport for All a transport mobility campaign group had been developing proposals to mitigate the impact of proposed budget reductions and also highlighted the positive action being taken by the Mayor for London to reverse decisions taken by the previous Mayor which would improve accessible travel. This had included investment in the accessible station programme. Of the stations identified for upgrade to step free access, 13 where located locally which would have a direct and disproportionate benefit for residents and businesses in Brent. He therefore urged Members to support the amendment proposed, which was as follows:
(i) Amend title of motion by removal of reference to “Mayor Khan’s” and insertion of “Government” as follows:
(ii) In first paragraph delete all wording after “This Council” and replace with:
“recognises the difficult decisions that Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan has been forced to take as a result of Government cuts to the capital’s funding. As an example of ongoing austerity’s impact, the 2018/19 budget for Taxi cards will regrettably fall by 13% - affecting around 70,000 users, some of whom live in Brent.”
(iii) Amend the 2nd paragraph of the motion as follows:
· Delete after “We recognise that” the wording “this cut will have a significant and direct impact on service users”; and
· replace with “the Mayor is doing his utmost to improve London’s transport network for all”
(iv) Amend the 3rd and final paragraph of the motion as follows:
· Delete all wording after “Accordingly, we agree that the Chief Executive should write to”; and
· Replace with “the Government expressing the council’s concerns at the impact of reductions in funding to the Mayor on services to Brent residents.”
Following the amendment having been moved, the Mayor then asked whether a further member from both the Brent Conservative and Labour Groups wished to speak on the motion and proposed amendment. As a result Councillor Colwill (speaking on behalf of the Brent Conservative Group) highlighted concerns regarding the state of many roads and pavements in the borough in relation to comfort and safety for elderly residents and those with mobility issues. Councillor Collier spoke on behalf of the Labour Group, highlighting the personal nature of the issue to him, given mobility issues experienced by his sister as a user of the taxicard scheme. He advised that he would be abstaining from the vote on both the amendment and motion which he felt had failed to reflect the practical difficulties and impact on the quality of life that would be caused as a result of the budget reductions for people who relied on the service. In his view it would have been more appropriate for the motion to have been focussed on ways in which the Mayor for London’s decision making process could have been influenced rather than on political arguments between both groups.
In recognition of the final comments made, both Councillor Warren and Councillor Hirani advised that they did not intend to exercise any right of reply so the Mayor then moved straight to the vote by show of hands on the amendment (as set out above) which was declared CARRIED.
The substantive motion (as amended and set out below) was then put straight to the vote by show of hands and declared CARRIED:
“This Council recognises the difficult decisions that Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan has been forced to take as a result of Government cuts to the capital’s funding. As an example of ongoing austerity’s impact, the 2018/19 budget for Taxi cards will regrettably fall by 13% - affecting around 70,000 users, some of whom live in Brent.
We recognise that the Mayor is doing his utmost to improve London’s transport network for all; including some of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged people in London.
Accordingly, we agree that the Chief Executive should write to the Government expressing the council’s concerns at the impact of reductions in funding to the Mayor on services to Brent residents.”
- Motion - Labour Group, item 18. PDF 76 KB
- Motion - Brent Conservative Group, item 18. PDF 67 KB
- Amendment to Brent Conservative Group Motion, item 18. PDF 85 KB