There was a meeting of Camden Council on Monday, 20th November. As part of my accountability to residents, below are the actions I took at the meeting.
Note: I was ill, having only been released from being an in-patient at the Royal Free a couple of hours before the meeting, so my performance was a little sub-par, but I did my best to speak with my usual vigour!
- I asked the Cabinet member for Best Start in Life (Labour’s nonsense name for schools) about Camden students’ continued poor take-up of free school meals, which has declined further since I raised it last year and didn’t get a response. Given the failure of Camden schools to get children to eat free school meals loses low-income households as much as £600,000 and causes poor educational attainment, this must be addressed immediately. (R)
- I supported the Cabinet member for Improving Camden’s Environment proposal to introduce fines for refusing to stop idling a car engine after being requested to do so. However, I also noted that he was incorrect to say that £20 was the maximum fine that could be imposed for engine idling, and proposed that Camden follows Westminster’s lead and imposes £80 fines instead. The Cabinet member refused to do so. (R)
- I asked the Chair of the Resources & Corporate Performance Scrutiny Committee whether Camden Council was well-equipped to deal with large procurement contracts in light of the £2.5m it lost due to bungling a procurement contract in the summer. The committee chair stated that officers had not yet reported to the committee but that one of his priorities would be to ensure that it would not be repeated. (R)
- I asked the Cabinet member for Improving Camden’s Environment to increase the on-the-spot fine for littering to the maximum of £150 as will be permitted by the government and apply those fines to littering from vehicles (as has not been previously allowed). The Cabinet member committed to doing so. I raised the supplementary question of whether he would increase the fine for fly-tipping to £400, as I have repeatedly asked for, which he did not give an affirmative answer to, but committed to returning to “at some point”. (Q)
- I asked the Cabinet member for Young People & Cohesion about the proceeds from the Apprenticeship Levy, which Camden does not expect to be able to spend on qualifying apprenticeship schemes: necessitating the return of the money to central government and the loss to. I proposed sharing the funds with academies, free schools, and voluntary-aided schools in the borough on the same terms as maintained schools such that it could benefit teacher and teaching assistant training in Camden. The Cabinet member committed to examining sharing the proceeds with academies, free schools, and voluntary-aided schools that might benefit. (Q)
- We did not get to the scheduled motions. However, I was due to propose a motion that would commit the Council to hiring 18 new police officers under the Metropolitan Police’s match-funding scheme. Although we didn’t get to the motions, Labour councillors proposed an amendment that would have removed this proposal, indicating their opposition to hiring new police officers. (M*)
You can see a full round-up of meetings this year here.