Decision Maker: Council
Decision status: Recommendations approved
Is Key decision?: No
Is subject to call in?: No
(1) The following Motion submitted by the Conservative Group, was declared LOST and not approved:
“Measures to tackle Flooding in Brent
In the past few years, flooding in Brent and other areas is getting more frequent and severe. Whilst this is partly due to climate change and global warming, it also reflects the massive level of regeneration, development and building on green and brown fields sites which is detrimental to the drainage of rainwater and it is felt future planning policy must reflect.
We are losing more green and open spaces which used to soak up the rain water. The Council’s policy of tarmacking footpaths also does not allow water to permeate in the ground. Just a little rain and we observe streams of water flowing on the roads and pavements.
We notice that flood water collects in low lying areas and does not recede for a few days after it rains which means that in the current situation more frequent and severe flooding will take place.
We appreciate that Brent alone cannot stop global warming and climate change and recognise that the borough has a Flood Risk management Strategy in place, however we can take further steps to mitigate the consequences and protect our residents’ lives and property.
As a result this Council calls on Cabinet to:
1) Reverse the policy of tarmacking the footways and replace with paving slabs and bricks which allows more water to soak in the ground, especially in known flood risk areas;
2) Reverse the policy of large scale developments which are reducing the green open spaces and making Brent a concrete jungle;
3) Implement a regular gully cleaning and leaf collection program, especially in the flood prone areas;
4) Implement a regular program of inspecting all drains and gullies in areas identified as flood risk and repair as necessary and the Council’s responsibility, including Brent’s brooks and rivers;
5) Introduce a policy that makes it’s illegal to concrete over the whole of a rear garden as this also impedes the draining of rainwater. We suggest a maximum of 20% of the rear garden can be paved or concreted over.
If Brent is serious about global warming and climate change and wants to protect its citizens now and for future, it's the least it can do.”
(2) The following Motion submitted by the Liberal Democrats Group was unanimously AGREED:
“Holding Housing Associations to Account
The Council notes:
Many Brent residents live in properties managed by Housing Associations. They may be Housing Association tenants, leaseholders or shared owners.
The number of residents who will live in properties managed by Housing Associations will continue to grow in the coming years, as more large tower blocks and Housing Association managed units are approved and built in our borough.
Housing Associations were originally set up as charitable, non-profit making organisations, with the aim to provide low cost housing for people.
In recent times, as Housing Associations have grown in number and as their stock has vastly increased, their original focus seems to have been lost as they now seem to be driven by profit and the desire to continuously increase their stock.
As Elected Members we are often made aware of issues within buildings managed by Housing Associations, whether in individual properties or in communal areas.
The communication between tenants and Housing Associations is poor, resulting in long periods of time passing before issues are identified and resolved.
There is a distinct lack of accountability when it comes to Housing Associations, and leaseholders, tenants, shared owners, often feel their concerns are ignored.
Ever increasing Service Charges continue to cause financial misery to many in our borough.
Frequently, Service Charge bills are not explained in detail to residents, as should be the case and scrutinising huge increases in bills is often complicated, meaning many experience financial hardship without fully understanding where their money is going.
Building repairs identified in individual homes and communal areas often take unacceptably long to rectify, despite residents paying vast Service Charges and most Housing Associations having considerable amounts in reserves, to deal with building defects and similar issues.
Essential building repairs are not prioritised, comprising the health and safety of residents, or causing real obstacles for people with disabilities or impairments.
Housing Associations rarely review the work of their contractors, resulting in issues reoccurring for no reason. In the long run this costs tenants more.
This Council believes:
1. Housing Associations must be held accountable and deliver for their tenants, some of whom are vulnerable and have specific housing and care needs.
2. That Housing Associations have both a legal and moral duty to ensure that their tenants’ needs are met and all issues are addressed in a timely manner.
3. There is often a distinct lack of communication between Housing Associations and their tenants, which fuels the frustration many feel.
4. It is difficult for tenants to make complaints when issues persist and are left unresolved as it is hard to know who within these bureaucratic organisations is responsible for different issues that arise.
This Council resolves to:
1. Exert our influence to demand better for residents who are currently experiencing issues with their Housing Association
2. Collate a directory of useful contact information of all Housing Associations who have stock in our borough, in order for Elected Members and Officers to be able to better support residents who have ongoing problems with their Housing Association.
3. Help signpost residents to their specific Housing Association officer who would be best placed to help resolve ongoing issues in their homes or communal spaces in their building.
4. Organise a roundtable with all Housing Associations who have stock in Brent in order for a frank and open conversation to take place between Elected Members and representatives from Housing Associations about ongoing issues within their stock.
5. Review our relationship with Housing Associations who have significant issues, particularly those who do not address buildingdefects withintheirexistingstock.
6. Support local people in holding their Housing Association to account by seeking to democratise the relationship between tenant and Housing Association through setting up Resident Associations where in public meetings issues can be raised and actions determined.”
(3) The following Motion submitted by the Labour Group was AGREED:
“Our Home Our Vote
The Council notes:
§ The Elections Bill has passed Royal Assent. The Bill when enabled will introduce a number of measures which will impact electors and local authorities including mandatory photographic voter ID, overseas voting, and voting and candidacy rights of EU citizens.
§ Election officials say they have not had enough time to prepare for voter ID and are worried that thousands of people will be turned away from polling stations. Labour Party MPs have raised concerns regarding voter suppression, since six of the Government-accepted IDs are specifically targeted at older people, while almost none are aimed at younger people.
§ In Brent, 169,000 residents were born abroad, and across London over 12% of residents are from the European Union.
§ They live, work, study, make use of public services, and call London their home. Many of our foreign-born residents from EU and Commonwealth countries can vote in our local elections. However, approximately 377,000 Londoners that were born in non-EU and non-Commonwealth countries cannot vote in our elections.
§ Scotland and Wales implemented residence-based voting rights where all residents with lawful immigration status have the right to vote in local and devolved national elections.
§ A poll conducted by Number Cruncher showed that 63% of people agree that all residents with lawful status in the UK should have the right to vote in local elections in England and Northern Ireland.
The Council welcomes:
§ That 37% of Londoners are born outside of the UK and that the voting and candidacy rights of EU citizens with pre-settled and settled status who entered the UK before 2021 will be maintained.
§ That the London Assembly passed a motion in support of residence-based voting rights on the 11th of November 2021 and that various organisations in the democracy and immigration sector have signed a joint statement in support of the “Our Home Our Vote” campaign for residence-based voting rights.
The Council expresses concern that:
§ EU citizens who enter the UK from 2021 and are not covered by the Withdrawal Agreement, or by ‘bilateral treaties’ covering voting rights, will not have voting and candidacy rights in local elections from 2022. This will create an unequal situation where some EU citizens will have the right to vote where others will not.
§ Brent Council also expresses concerns that the democratic rights to vote in local or national elections will impact many minority groups once voter ID is implemented through the Election Act;
§ We fear this complexity in voting eligibility will cause confusion and will reduce voter turnout in London elections, undermining the effectiveness of projects such as London Voter Registration Week working to improve voter registration.
The Council will commit to:
§ Increasing its efforts to encourage eligible voters to register to vote in advance of future elections. For instance, but not limited to, including information about voter registration and eligibility in council tax letters, council social media communications and the Brent Magazine.
§ Brent Council will work closely with organisations and charities operating across our borough to ensure that the information about local election voting rights reaches as many EU citizens as possible that call Brent home.
§ Ask that the Leader of the Council write to Andrew Stephenson, Minister of State for Local Government, Faith and Communities requesting that the right to vote be extended to all residents in local elections in England and Northern Ireland.”
(4) The following Motion submitted by the Labour Group was AGREED:
“Backlog Britain: Waiting for Care
This Council notes:
All across the United Kingdom the country is facing backlogs across public services. In the past few weeks, we have seen that these delays can have tragic consequences – with a bottleneck in processing asylum applications, leading to deplorable conditions at Manston in Kent.
However, right now across the health sector, with staff leaving the industry in their droves and nurses balloting for a strike for the first time ever; we are seeing even greater delays to accessing healthcare:
§ There are some 6.7 million people waiting for routine hospital treatment the highest level since records began 15 years ago. Hospitals, meanwhile, are full of patients who cannot be discharged owing to a lack of care-home beds or community services to support them. This in turn means that nationally almost 700,000 people have waited more than 12 hours in A&E in the first seven months of 2022, with ambulances queuing outside hospital doors for hours.
§ The NHS is the Labour Party’s proudest achievement – a gift from Nye Bevan to the country which has lasted 74 years. The NHS is a source of national pride, but this year it is facing another balancing act, with spiralling demands for care; while thousands of positions are vacant. As a result, there are now 1 in 9 people in England on hospital waiting lists, with people dying while waiting for care.
§ The Health and Social Care Levy was put forward as a means to “fix” social care by providing sustainable funding to the sector. There have been no new announcements from government on what will replace the £13 billion it would have offered.
§ Figures from the NHS reveal that last month 7,953 people had to wait more than four hours for emergency care at A&Es in London North West University Healthcare NHS Trust. In North West London, there are now 247,296 residents on the waiting list for care, up from 175,291 just a year ago and the highest number in London. There are 6,225 residents waiting over a year for routine operations.
§ At the same time many NHS trusts are supporting their staff through the cost of living crisis by food banks on site, providing salary advances and free school uniforms to the children of NHS staff.
§ The NHS Confederation has made an unprecedented intervention, highlighting in an open letter the link between fuel poverty and demand on NHS services, stating that Britain “is facing a humanitarian crisis. Many people could face the awful choice between skipping meals to heat their homes and having to live in cold, damp and very unpleasant conditions.”
§ Further on 9th November 2002 NHS Confederation stated that “ If social care reforms are delayed by another year, this will only serve to exacerbate the bottlenecks across local services and harm patients “
§ Around 1 in every 10 dentists in England quit last year, leaving 4 million people unable to access an NHS dentist with some parts of the country now described as ‘dentistry deserts’, because remaining NHS dentists aren’t taking on new patients. The British Dentistry Association, emergency teeth extractions are now the most common reason for children to go to hospital.
§ Data from the NHS reveals that in the past year, 23,434 GP appointments in the North West London Integrated Care System were held over a month late, as patients struggle to see a GP when they need one.
§ That there is a six to eight week wait to access the local Long Covid service based at Central Middlesex Hospital.
§ Public satisfaction with GP services has fallen from 77 per cent in 2010, to just 38 per cent now, the lowest level since the survey began in 1983. A BBC Panorama investigation in June found that unqualified staff at Operose Health practices, the UK’s largest GP chain, are seeing patients without the required clinical supervision and support.
This Council believes:
§ That Brent owes a huge debt of gratitude to health and social care staff that continue to tirelessly work for a health service that keeps us healthy and has saved lives across the pandemic. However, it also clear that successive governments over the last decade have presided over the deterioration of services, creating some of the backlogs we see today.
§ Public services are a public right, but residents in Brent are facing huge delays for the most basic care. The NHS and universal public services need a new deal, if the social contract that bonds citizens and governments, can continue.
§ We need a real plan to get waiting lists in hospitals, primary care and dentistry under control. At present there is a golden thread of delay, decay and dither leading back to the Conservatives. Previous governments have reduced waiting times in hospitals from 18 months to 18 weeks.
§ That if Brent residents cannot afford to heat their homes and cannot afford nutritious food, we will face a new public health emergency; increasing the strain on our local hospital admissions further.
§ Local government has shown that with the right funding, it has a part to play in promoting and protecting the health and well-being of the public, and supporting the NHS in alleviating the demand for services.
§ In Brent we are proud to have our own Brent Health Matters programme which has:
o Established a public health prevention team, recruited from our community with lived experiences of what makes Brent, Brent.
o Worked hand in glove with our multi-faith groups to reach a wide range of stakeholders across Brent, to address entrenched health inequalities.
o Been at the heart of a public health outreach campaign: coordinating diabetes screenings, organising pop-up Covid-19 vaccination sites; and working now with our community groups to increase vaccination uptake.
This Council resolves:
§ As part of the campaign to ensure that healthcare for Brent residents is properly funded, working alongside patient voice groups, to press the case for equitable NHS funding across the new North West London Integrated Care System (ICS).
§ To reinforce the Brent Health Matters programme, taking forward transformational projects to reverse the health inequalities the pandemic exposed. We will facilitate more outreach sessions across Brent’s communities, such as our diabetes prevention events and our mobile dentistry sessions.
§ To bolster our communications campaign across all channels, with a new multi-language information booklet setting out what support is available is available to residents struggling with the cost of living, energy and food poverty.
§ To provide ‘Warm Places’ a network of spaces where Brent residents can come together to stay warm and receive additional support and advice to alleviate poverty – helping to ease pressures on the NHS.
§ To support a national campaign as outlined by the NHS Confederation in support of the action that is so desperately required to address the dearth of adequate social care provision, including introducing a minimum wage for social care staff. Social care is about so much more than alleviating pressure on the NHS, but without action to address the lack of capacity in social care, the NHS will continue to experience huge delays in discharging medically fit patients from hospitals.
§ Request that the Leader of the Council write to our local MPs requesting that the backlog in healthcare services and health inequalities in Brent is raised in Parliament; and for those MPs to meet with interested councillors in facilitating discussions.”
Publication date: 28/11/2022
Date of decision: 21/11/2022
Decided at meeting: 21/11/2022 - Council