There was a meeting of Camden Council on Monday, 29th January. As part of my accountability to residents, below are the actions I took at the meeting.
- I raised (the only) objection to Labour changing the format of full council to reduce the accountability of the Cabinet. The purpose of Full Council is to hold the Cabinet to account, and yet here Camden is reducing their accountability by ending oral questions to Cabinet members, ending reports by Cabinet members, and ending open session: the three main means by which opposition councillors propose policy changes or raise concerns with how the council is run. By asking the Leader instead of individual Cabinet members, it would reduce accountability, as she would not be sufficiently close to the area in question to give a detailed response, and would be more likely to fall back on political point-scoring. I insisted that this change of format be used for this meeting – given the guests had already turned up to present on the important issue of air pollution – but not for future meetings. (M)
- In the themed debate on air pollution, I raised three areas where Camden had adopted half-measures and could go further to improve air quality: by installing more electric vehicle charging points, by imposing proper £80 fines for deliberate engine idling, and by working with TfL to create a Low Emission Bus Zone across Camden. (D)
- I asked the Leader of the Council what criteria for success Camden Council had set for the ‘pathfinder’ merger of Camden and Islington borough commands. The Met Commissioner recently said that no criteria had been set: contradicting claims by the Cabinet member for Community Safety that he could give ‘chapter and verse’. Sadly, the Leader didn’t answer and just went on a party-political rant: proving that the new council format would lead to more politicisation and less accountability. (Q)
- I asked the Chair of the Licensing Committee presenting the new Statement of Licensing Policy to ensure that the new plan would actually inform the Committee making decisions and not fetter its discretion. I noted that a map intended to inform the Committee about which areas were particularly high risk claimed that almost every square metre of Camden was equally ultra-high-risk. This could open the borough up to judicial review. (R)
- I spoke in support of a motion mandating a conversation of Camden’s fluorescent lamp post bulbs into LEDs, which would not just save millions of pounds, but also allow the use of lamp posts for electric vehicle charging points. (M)
You can see a full round-up of meetings this year here.