There was a meeting of Camden Council on Monday, 25th February. As part of my accountability to residents, below are the actions I took at the meeting.

  1. I thanked Jessica Learmont-Criqui for bringing a petition about traffic in Hampstead. I further asked whether enough was being done to mitigate through-traffic, noting that paragraph 6.17 of the Neighbourhood Plan requires the Council to secure through planning obligations a reduction in through-traffic in Hampstead whenever a development attracts more. (D)
  2. I gave my speech as Leader of the Opposition condemning the vandalism of Karl Marx’s grave in Highgate and called for building of bridges in light of the recent Holocaust Remembrance Day; welcomed Jenny Rowlands to her job as Chief Executive and noted her reputation for challenging orthodoxies would hopefully make the Council receptive to ideas from outside the organisation or from the opposition benches; noted in that vein that several Budget items had been first proposed by the Conservatives, and wished that that would continue; and stated that the motion I had tabled on FGM would have unanimous support.
  3. I seconded the Conservative alternative budget, which I wrote with my colleague Andrew Parkinson. The budget would have saved millions by building on our service-sharing agreements with Westminster and Kensington & Chelsea – as opposed to the arrangements with Islington and Haringey that collapsed – and reinvested the money by hiring more police, restoring weekly bin collections, increasing funding for raising school standards by 20%, and cutting Council Tax. (R)
  4. I voted for the Conservative amendment to the budget, and abstained on the Liberal Democrat amendment. Both failed to be passed, and so I voted against the unamended Labour budget. (V)
  5. I praised the Council’s treasury management strategy, and specifically the decision not to splurge money on buying shopping centres and other assets, which had lost other councils millions. (R)
  6. I spoke against the Council adopting Labour’s gerrymandering of ward boundaries as its official scheme to submit to the Local Government Boundary Commission for England’s consultation on new ward boundaries. I specifically noted that the submission erred in law by assuming wards should have three councils (this is no longer required, and would lead to perverse results); that Labour’s proposed Belsize ward barely included any of Belsize, and was a gerrymandered mess; and that creating a ward that crossed the Euston Road contradicted the claims that the council had made in bidding for TfL funds that the Euston Road was impassable, and thus adopting the submission would undermine the council’s actual access to future funds. (R)
  7. I forced the Council to hold a rare recorded vote – under which every councillor has to individually state how he or she is voting – to demonstrate that the proposed ward boundaries submission did not have cross-party support. The Conservatives and Lib Dems voted against the proposals: demonstrating that it was just a Labour scheme, not a fair and objective one. (V)
  8. I asked the Joint Chairs of Scrutiny to ensure their annual report focused more on where they had accomplished material achievements, such as noting where they had found a flaw in the administration’s plans or proposed a policy that had been adopted. This is the point of scrutiny and the point of backbenchers and opposition, yet the report made no reference to achievements at all. (R)
  9. I was due to propose a motion declaring a zero-tolerance approach to female genital mutilation and toughening up Camden’s actual practice to keep our girls and women safe. There was not time to consider this motion, but I will keep up the pressure on this. (M*)
  10. Because we ran out of time allocated to motions, I raised the Animal Welfare Charter in the open session, and specifically asked the Resources & Corporate Performance Scrutiny Committee, which is responsible for matters that don’t expressly fall within the remit of other committees, to receive an officers’ report assisting in the adoption of an Animal Welfare Charter. (O)