There was a meeting of Camden Council on Monday, 26th February. As part of my accountability to residents, below are the actions I took at the meeting.
- I spoke about the ‘Camden 2025’ plan, which was adopted at the meeting. This sketches out the objectives of Camden Council over the years up to 2025. I noted that the report was very vague and imprecise, with no quantitative objectives and a whole host of motherhood and apple pie statements that nobody could disagree with. By way of example, because I’ve raised mental health several times before, I noted that it says that by 2025, “People living with mental ill-health should not feel shame or embarrassment.” Well, yes, but that’s just a statement of fact – they should not right now. But we should be aiming to make sure they don’t feel shame or embarrassment, not just say that they shouldn’t. Shamefully, the Leader of the Council replied that they couldn’t aspire to more than that. (R)
- In the debate on the Budget, I had intended to raise a point about how little Camden does to help local businesses to appeal against their Business Rates assessments. The backlog of appeals has grown dramatically in Camden – faster than elsewhere. This matters, because it directly leads to local businesses paying thousands extra in Business Rates, leads to many businesses shutting up shop, and thus leads to Business Rates revenue that Camden collects falling: all avoidable if Camden helped businesses to challenge their ratings. This costs us millions. Sadly, I spoke immediately after a Labour councillor called Conservative voters ‘lower than vermin’, so I felt obliged to criticise this unacceptably vicious attack on my residents and note that Conservative councillors did an invaluable job in coming up with ideas for the unnecessarily partisan and petty Labour administration. (R)
- I voted for the Conservative alternative amendment tabled by Don Williams. I voted against raising Council Tax by 4.99%, in line with my pledge to never back a real-terms Council Tax increase. (V)
- I was the sole objector to the Council voting to give officers the power to increase councillors’ allowances (a power conveniently to be exercised after the election, but backdated…). I find it completely and utterly unacceptable that Labour voted to cut services, raise taxes by 5%, and then give themselves a raise! I noted that I would be giving any increase in my allowance to a community enterprise in my ward, and urged others to do the same. Sadly, the Labour chair of the committee tabling the report ignored my objection and said that I could get my way and stop councillors giving themselves a raise by the Conservatives winning the May elections. I couldn’t have put it better myself! (R)
- I was appointed as Chair of the Resources & Corporate Performance Scrutiny Committee, replacing Don Williams, who had been elected as Deputy Leader of the Conservative group. This is the most important committee on the Council and has the job of reviewing the overall performance of the Council. Specifically, it scrutinises the Council’s corporate policies and plans; scrutinises the Council’s performance; helps develop the Budget; and scrutinises all affairs that aren’t expressly covered by other committees (full role description here). (R)
You can see a full round-up of meetings this year here.