There was a virtual meeting of Camden Council on Monday, 12th October. As part of my accountability to residents, below are the actions I took at the meeting.
- I helped businesses on Haverstock Hill to present a petition, which 95% of businesses on the hill signed, opposing Camden’s proposals to replace all parking on Haverstock Hill with cycle lanes without any consultation. I asked the deputation what the impact would be on outdoor dining and hospitality, as I believed it would be negative, not positive as the council has claimed (to create space for the cycle lanes, the proposal makes it impossible to overtake buses, and thus would mean constant gridlock). The local businesses agreed, but the Cabinet member ignored them. This will end in tears. (D)
- In the themed debate on food security, I raised two concerns based on my experience of establishing and managing a food bank in Hampstead over the spring and summer. I am concerned that Camden does not work well with new groups, like the Hampstead Volunteer Corps, which took several weeks to get recognised and supported by Camden, and adopts a “beggars can’t be choosers” approach by delivering food that would go off that day with a couple of hours’ notice. (T)
- I gave my speech as Leader of the Opposition on the subject of Camden’s culture of secrecy. While the previous meeting, I had praised Camden for agreeing to open up its books so the community could develop a solution to the closure threat hanging over Carlton, I had to condemn the fact that this promise had now been broken. On several other matters, such a traffic changes as we’d heard earlier, residents were just ignored, and that has to change. (S)
- I abstained on the Labour-Lib Dem-Green motion about national planning policy. I have a number of concerns with the Planning White Paper, which is why I personally wrote a 19-page response to the consultation (the Cabinet member for Planning keeps claiming I’ve been silent on it, but I actually wrote a response myself in my own time! He just got council staff to write one on taxpayers’ time). However, a council is not a party-political lobby shop, and so we abstained, in keeping with our long-standing position not to dedicate invaluable time and resources at council meetings to conduct lobbying activities (whether we agree with them or not). (M).
- I proposed a motion to reduce congestion and disruption due to roadworks by considering and consulting on the introduction of a Lane Rental Scheme. Such a scheme would charge contractors for each day they dig up roads: encouraging them to do works quickly, get them right so they don’t have to do it again, and coordinate with other contractors (e.g. Thames Water and G.Network). Due to lack of time, the motion was not going to be heard unless I accepted the Labour amendment, which agreed to the Cabinet considering a Lane Rental Scheme, but watered down its commitment to implement it slightly. Nonetheless, this is a big victory for everyone. (M)