There was a meeting of Camden Council on Monday, 20th January. As part of my accountability to residents, below are the actions I took at the meeting.
- I asked a deputation of Carlton Primary School parents worried about plans to close the school how they wanted Camden to engage them, and what a proper consultation would look like. I furthermore asked Camden to conduct the impact assessment and publish financial data requested by the deputies. (D)
- I gave my speech as Leader of the Opposition on the subject of the antisemitic graffiti that had covered Belsize and Hampstead on 29th December. I noted the fact that synagogues had recently reopened in Beirut and Alexandria – the two cities that my (Syro-Lebanese) family had called home for centuries. But that those were mere symbols, as there were no longer any Jews living there. We need actions, not words. (S)
- I asked the Chairman of the Audit & Corporate Governance Committee to ensure the review of polling stations would factor in that the government was now giving grants to councils to book venues other than schools. Currently, too many children have to take days off school because councils cheap out and take the free option – using a school as a polling station – rather than paying to hire another venue. This essentially prices a kid’s education at £0, and this should change. (R)
- Regarding the dockless bike bye-law, I welcomed the pan-London plans – led by Westminster – to create designated bays to leave dockless bikes so they don’t block the pavement. However, I noted that a drafting error meant that councils would be able to designate docking bays outside their borough. This would be a disaster, and would require urgent redrafting. (R)
- I voted for the continuation of the Council Tax Reduction Scheme for low-income households. I noted a drafting error that meant that it would effectively increase taxes on a group of wounded veterans, and the Council agreed to delegate authority to resolve this (in brief: all military compensation payments were previously not considered part of ‘income’, but the new scheme covered only some payments because of the terminology around the subject. This will now be fixed). (R).
- I voted for the cross-party motion condemning antisemitism in the borough, including recommitting the council to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of antisemitism. (M)
- Because of the cross-party motion, we did not reach the Conservative motion, which would committed Camden to stop installing gas boilers in its social housing where an alternative is possible. (M*)