Annual Report from the Leader
To receive an annual report on the work of the Council from the Leader of the Council, in accordance with Standing Order 38.
Noted the annual report provided by the Leader of the Council on the work of the Council.
The Mayor invited Councillor Butt, Leader of the Council, to present (in accordance with Standing Order 38) his annual report on the work of the Council and state of the borough.
By way of introduction, Councillor Butt reminded Members that as part of his last annual report he had referred to the various challenges as well as opportunities faced by the Council. Despite the significant pressures and challenges still faced by the Council, he felt it was important to focus on the key priorities set in relation to Housing, adult social care, education, safeguarding of children and keeping residents safe from harm.
In relation to housing the current Administration were committed to creating a fairer future for Brent’s residents. In the absence of a lead from the Government, the Council was now taking steps to regulate the private rental market, take action against rogue landlords as well as being directly involved in providing good quality, genuinely affordable, and ethically managed homes with long term tenancies. As a council he was proud that this work had enabled the delivery of 49% more new build affordable housing than the London average.
In terms of Adult Social Care and ensuring dignity for elderly residents, whilst progress was being made in relation to the provision of higher quality, lower cost, independent living arrangements, payment of the living wage for carers and in attempting to relieve pressure on primary health services these efforts and innovations could only go so far. The fundamental issue remained the need for adequate government intervention as without proper regulation and sufficient funding, he felt the support being provided was at risk of being compromised.
In terms of education, whilst Brent’s schools were amongst the best in London he felt there were still too many young people struggling and at the risk of being left behind. Whilst working to addressing these issues this was being made more difficult by the Government’s ongoing financial restrictions.
In relation to safeguarding, Councillor Muhammed Butt was pleased to be able to report on the progress being made in meeting the challenge identified with the results of the recent Ofsted Inspection rating the levels of care provided to be nothing short of outstanding. He felt this represented an even greater achievement when taking account of the ongoing financial pressure on the Council and was testament to the hard work and dedication of staff tasked with safeguarding young lives in Brent which deserved to be celebrated.
Turning to the financial pressures on the Council created by the Governments ongoing programme of austerity, he highlighted the extent of the difficult choices and decisions still needing to be made, which he felt would only be made worse by Brexit.
Concluding his annual report and commenting on the state of the borough, Councillor Butt felt it was possible to highlight a huge amount as being achieved but also much more to do based on an ambitious, but at the same time pragmatic set of priorities and commitments with an enormous financial challenge to continue to manage and overcome.
The Administration were, however under no illusion as to magnitude of the task and were ready to meet the challenge in terms of continuing towards achieving a borough of culture, empathy, and shared prosperity.
The Mayor thanked Councillor Muhammed Butt for the report. Councillor Colwill (as Leader of the Conservative Group) advised he would not be responding and as no other members had indicated they wished to speak the Mayor advised that this concluded the debate with the Council having RESOLVED to note the Annual Report.