There was a virtual meeting of Camden Council on Monday, 1st March. As part of my accountability to residents, below are the actions I took at the meeting.
- I paid tribute to the late former councillor Sally Peltier. I did not know Sally, but I noted a number of similarities between her and my friend and former Belsize councillor Leila Roy, who also passed away recently. (S)
- A deputation was made by a group opposing increases in motorcycle parking charges. I noted that a large number of key workers needed to use motorbikes to get to work at unsociable hours. I asked what the social profile of motorcyclists, who would be greatly harmed by Camden Labour’s proposals, would be, and the deputies confirmed that they were disproportionately low-paid shift workers. (D)
- I seconded an amendment to Camden’s budget (proposed by my Conservative colleague Andrew Parkinson).
- I welcomed the continued cautious approach to the Treasury Management Strategy. However, I noted the incoherence between the risk-averse approach to management of financial assets and the pro-risk approach to property investment within the borough. In particular, the CIP model of development involves a deliberate decision to absorb all development risk – greatly outweighing any anti-risk measures adopted in managing Camden’s financial assets. (R)
- I voted for the council’s revised Pay Policy. (V)
- I spoke against councillors increasing their own allowances at a time when Camden was increasing council tax and cutting services for residents. The administration proposed giving councillors a 2.75% “cost of living” increase, despite inflation being 0.9%: a third as much. I also particularly objected to Camden doing this during Covid, and when Camden again and again pretends to have no money. I furthermore pointed out the hypocrisy of the Lib Dems claiming to the Camden New Journal that they opposed it too – when their representative on the Audit Committee voted FOR the increase (as the only Conservative on the committee, I was the only vote against it). Sadly, while Conservative councillors voted against the increase in allowances, Labour voted it through. (R)
- I expressed concern about the changes to the terms of reference of the Planning Committee. In particular, I noted that the administration was proposing banning the Planning Committee from hearing a wide range of demolitions of properties in conservation areas. This is a retrograde step and would mean less control of development in places like Hampstead and Belsize. I furthermore asked that Members’ Briefing be made binding, rather than just advisory. Sadly, only the Conservatives voted against this change. (R)
- I did not give a speech as Leader of the Opposition, due to lack of time. (S)
- We did not hear motion, due to lack of time. (M)