There was a meeting of Camden Council on Monday, 24th April.
The events surrounding the Chalcots evacuation meant that the meeting was curtailed significantly. I believe this to be a major mistake. We were due to hear a report from the chairman of the Housing Scrutiny Committee – and what better time to hear it and make him commit to holding the administration to account on housing?
I could understand if we dedicated all three hours of the meeting to the Chalcots, but the meeting was instead cut to 90 minutes: instead of increasing the time dedicated to housing, it actually just cut the time allowed for anything else.
As such, most of the actions I was due to take below were not heard, but I list them here anyway as part of my accountability to residents:
- I would have asked the Leader of the Council about the decisions taken that led to the Chalcots evacuation and the key questions that any independent inquiry needs to answer, but we was one of the few councillors not to be called to ask a question. (R*)
- I asked the Cabinet member for Finance & Technology (standing in for the Cabinet member for Regeneration, Transport, & Planning in presenting the Local Plan) to ensure that the deputees that had been due to speak about Gondar Gardens Reservoir would be met separately before any decisions were made about the area of green space being protected. They had been cut from the agenda as part of the decision I described above. I also used this to call for more involvement of and consultation with residents in the planning process. Sadly, instead of applauding the fact that I did as a Fortune Green resident asked me, the sole Lib Dem councillor (who has helpfully called me a ‘cunt’ in the chamber before) attacked me. She should probably ask herself why the West Hampstead NDF asked me to raise it before attacking me for serving the people of Camden. (R)
- I voted for the adoption of the Local Plan, which, despite some qualms that I have about specific pieces of content, will protect local character and improve sustainability. (V)
- I was due to ask the Cabinet member for Regeneration, Transport & Planning about the electric vehicle charging capacity deployed across Camden and what’s being done to increase it. Compared to other inner London boroughs, Camden has a very small network of charging points, which – combined with the limited number of garages – makes it very difficult for residents to purchase electric cars. This means that air pollution is higher than it would be otherwise. The government provides 75% funding for the installation of new electric vehicle charging points, and Camden should take advantage of this. This question was postponed because of the change in schedule and will be answered in September. (Q*)
- I asked the Cabinet Member for Housing how many housing units had been started since May 2014, how many were subject of pending planning applications, and what proportion of either were affordable. Camden Labour promised to build 6,000 new homes between 2014 and 2018, but based on past progress, this target will be missed by a large margin: with Labour on track to deliver just half as many as they promised when I last asked. This question was postponed because of the change in schedule and will be answered in September. (Q*)
You can see a full round-up of meetings this year here.