There was a meeting of Camden Council on Monday, 7th October. As part of my accountability to residents, below are the actions I took at the meeting.
- I spoke on the themed debate on the climate crisis by noting that Camden was only rated as the top Inner London borough for climate change because Hampstead Heath’s trees. Without the work of residents 153 years ago to save Hampstead Heath, Camden would actually have been fourth, not first – and I thus implored people to think of the consequences of their actions 153 years hence. (T)
- I seconded a cross-party motion declaring a climate emergency. In seconding it, I paid tribute to Tories for Climate Action, noted the UK had decarbonised its economy more than any other since 2010, called Margaret Thatcher the world’s first green Prime Minister because of her speech to the UN General Assembly that woke up the world, and called for more action of the sort we’ve seen in the last decade.
- I gave my speech as Leader of the Opposition noting that we needed tougher action as well as a public health approach to knife crime – and noted that our motion later in the meeting would help achieve that. I also then said the administration couldn’t show lip service to listening to communities, as it had in Camley Street, and had to listen to all of them, not just those that the administration wanted to. (S)
- I had been scheduled to ask the Leader of the Council about HS2, but was not called. (Q*)
- I spoke strongly against the administration’s proposal to increase pay for Cabinet members by 54%. Two excuses were given. The cost of living had increased by 27% since 2010, and this increase was required to keep up with it – but this is obviously nonsense, as 54% is far above 27% or above the 11% that council staff had received. The other was that Cabinet members are overworked – which I noted was a silly argument, because they had the power to disperse power throughout the council by going back to the Committee system or adopting Area Committees, but they opposed both.
- I forced a recorded vote on the increases in councillor allowances so members of the public could see how each councillor voted. Labour tried to stop this recorded vote – in part because a dozen of their councillors had marched out in protest – but it went ahead anyway. All Conservatives voted against the increases – but all Labour and Lib Dem councillors present voted for it, so they went through. (V).
- I noted my disappointment with the significant increase in the threshold required to force Camden Council to receive an ordinary petition. Previously, the threshold was far too low – allowing anyone with ten signatures to bring any issue to the Council Chamber, even if the intention was solely to disrupt the Council. However, the threshold is now 4,000: far too high. I said no petitions would be received under this scheme, so to use it as a ‘watch and see’ temporary provision would be silly – as we already know the outcome. A threshold of 200-400 would have been far better. (R)
- I seconded a Conservative motion introducing a smart CCTV library, which would allow local schools, housing estates, businesses, and families with CCTV to store their footage in Camden’s CCTV library for a small fee. This would make it easier for the police to access footage, reduce the cost of maintaining a CCTV system, and improve data protection by ensuring it’s always accessed by a trained staff member. This was amended slightly by Labour, but otherwise adopted. (M)
- I was disappointed we didn’t get to the motion supporting Nazanin Zagharai-Ratcliffe. Before the Conservative motion, I called for the two motions to both be heard, as they had cross-party support, and this was agreed. However, before the Nazanin one, the Mayor ended the meeting. I would have voted for the motion. (M*)