Agenda item

Motions

To debate the motions submitted in accordance with Standing Order 41.

 

Members are asked to note that the motion submitted by the Labour Group will be circulated as a supplementary paper in advance of the meeting, in accordance with Standing Order 41(c).

Decision:

The following motion submitted by the Labour Group was AGREED:

 

“This council joins international condemnation of the recent killings of 130 Palestinian protestors by Israeli forces – firing live ammunition into crowds of unarmed civilians is illegal and must not be tolerated; any escalation in this long-running dispute is deeply regrettable.

 

This council is appalled that more than two thirds of Palestinians are reliant on humanitarian assistance, with limited access to essential amenities such as water and electricity.

 

This council supports the right to protest against such awful conditions, against the continuing blockade of Gaza, and occupation of Palestinian land, and in support of a viable two state solution.

 

This council calls upon the UK government to encourage the UN Secretary General to renew his call for an independent international inquiry into these killings, and review the sale of arms that could be used in violation of international law.”

 

The following motion submitted by the Conservative Group was NOT AGREED:

 

“We call on the Council to return our fields back into parks and do some studies on the way in which leaving the grass as meadows to grow long is affecting more and more people who suffer from hay fever and asthma.

 

Our residents pay a lot of money in council tax and surely a basic requirement of the Council is to keep our streets clean and tidy and at minimum risk to the health and safety of everyone.”

Minutes:

 

20.1  Motion from the Labour Group – Palestinian Conflict

 

Prior to the consideration of this item, Councillor Kabir moved a procedural motion seeking to suspend Standing Order 41 (h) in order to allow additional members to contribute to the debate on the Motion.  In accordance with Standing Order 42 the procedural motion was put to the vote by the Mayor without discussion and declared CARRIED.

 

Before inviting Councillor Gill to move the Motion, the Mayor took the opportunity to remind  Members of the Council’s 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 protected characteristics and those who did not.  He advised this represented the public sector equality duty and that the protected characteristics referred to included any race, religion or beliefs relevant to the motion.  He concluded by reminding Members that they would, however, be free to express their own political opinions.

 

The Mayor then invited Councillor Gill to move the motion he had submitted on behalf of from the Labour Group who thanked Councillors Shahzad and Chan for their assistance in preparing the motion which he then read through and urged Members to support.

 

As a result of the changes to the Constitution agreed at the start of the meeting, the Mayor advised that the usual process would now be to invite up to three further members to speak (two from the Labour Group and one from the Conservative Group).  In view of the procedural motion agreed at the start of the item he advised it would, however, now be possible to allow additional members to speak on this item if they so wished.

 

The Mayor then invited members to speak, with contributions received as follows:

 

Councillor Shahzad began by advising he was supporting and seconding the motion and supporting the concerns raised about reports from various Human Rights organisations that children killed during the recent protests had been unarmed.  He advised he fully supported the call for these actions to be condemned alongside the need for work to continue in order to identify a viable solution towards ending the conflict and encouraging a peaceful two state solution.  In support of this approach he also advised that he fully supported the call on the Council to urge the Government to review and cease the sale of arms that could be used in violation of international law.

 

Cllr Choudry recognised the strength of feeling generated around such a long running and sensitive issue and advised that he would also be supporting the motion.  He highlighted concerns from a humanitarian perspective around the conditions in which ordinary citizens living in Gaza found themselves which he felt were being ignored and needed to be addressed with the motion recognising the key role of the British Government, given their historical involvement and current influence in the region.

 

Councillor Hassan whilst supporting the motion felt that it was not strong enough in terms of the action being sought.  She highlighted the heavy toll of the conflict on those living in Gaza and felt the motion was relevant for debate in Brent given the moral responsibility in challenging the Government’s foreign policy around the sale of arms sales to Israel which she urged the Leader of the Council to write to the Foreign Secretary about.

 

Councillor Nerva felt that care needed to be taken around debates such as this on matters of foreign policy with a clear view needed on what the Council could realistically achieve and potential impact on local community cohesion.  Whilst recognising the suffering of citizens from both sides living in the region he questioned the focus of the motion on Israel referring as well to the role of other states in the region.  From a community cohesion perspective he felt that many members of the Jewish community in Brent would feel concerned by the motion at a time when the Council were looking to move forward together.

 

The Mayor then invited Councillor Maurice to speak in response to the motion on behalf of the Conservative Group, who began by highlighting a need to recognise the difficulties faced by ordinary citizens on both sides of the conflict.  As part of an ongoing conflict he also felt there was a need to recognise Israel’s right to defend itself and her citizens and whilst recognising the need to address the poor conditions in which people found themselves living in the region felt there was also a need to question the role of the Government in Gaza in terms of the distribution of humanitarian aid and also the role of other key players in the region before condemning Israel.  For these reasons he advised he would not be supporting the motion.

 

As final contributions, Councillor Kansagra advised that he supported Councillor Nerva’s position on the sensitivity of the motion and would therefore be abstaining from any vote.  This was then followed by Councillor Mashari, who advised that she would be supporting the motion, feeling it was important for the Council to condemn the attacks on any unarmed civilians and also to recognise the day to day suffering of those living in the occupied territories and need for humanitarian and other aid to alleviate their plight.

 

As no other Members indicated they wished to speak and Councillor Gill advised he had no further comments to make in exercising his right of reply, the Mayor then put the motion (as set out below) to a vote, by show of hands, which was declared CARRIED:

 

“This council joins international condemnation of the recent killings of 130 Palestinian protestors by Israeli forces – firing live ammunition into crowds of unarmed civilians is illegal and must not be tolerated; any escalation in this long-running dispute is deeply regrettable.

 

This council is appalled that more than two thirds of Palestinians are reliant on humanitarian assistance, with limited access to essential amenities such as water and electricity.

 

This council supports the right to protest against such awful conditions, against the continuing blockade of Gaza, and occupation of Palestinian land, and in support of a viable two state solution.

 

This council calls upon the UK government to encourage the UN Secretary General to renew his call for an independent international inquiry into these killings, and review the sale of arms that could be used in violation of international law.”

 

20.2    Motion from the Conservative Group - Parks & Open Spaces

 

The Mayor invited Councillor Colwill to move the motion he had submitted on behalf of the Conservative Group who began by highlighting the strength of feeling and number of complaints he had received from local residents regarding the meadowlands policy in parks and open spaces and requesting that the grass was cut.  In addition he advised the motion had highlighted concerns about the potential impact of the policy on residents’ safety and health, especially those suffering from conditions such as hay fever or asthma.

 

The Mayor then invited contributions from the Labour Group, with Councillor Krupa Sheth, as Cabinet Member for Environment, responding to the motion by highlighting the importance of parks and green spaces as an essential part of city life, not only in terms of recreation and leisure but also in terms of bio-diversity and air quality.  Whilst the decision to introduce the policy had been driven by budget constraints (agreed as part of the budget setting process) she pointed out there were also ecological benefits but recognised that the recent weather conditions had caused difficulties in terms of the growth experienced.  Action now being taken to bring this back under control but she felt there was also a need to highlight that the policy was another example of the impact which the Government’s austerity measures were having on the way services were now having to be prioritised by local authorities and whilst aware of the issues in relation to parks and open spaces, questioned the Conservative Groups focus on this policy over other key areas of service delivery.

 

As no other members indicated they wished to speak Councillor Colwill, in exercising his right of reply, advised that he had been asked to be kept informed about hospital admissions linked to breathing conditions affected by the policy, which he would ensure were shared with the Lead Member.

 

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

 

“We call on the Council to return our fields back into parks and do some studies on the way in which leaving the grass as meadows to grow long is affecting more and more people who suffer from hay fever and asthma.

 

Our residents pay a lot of money in council tax and surely a basic requirement of the Council is to keep our streets clean and tidy and at minimum risk to the health and safety of everyone.”

Supporting documents: