Full Council is the most senior part of Camden Council and comprises all of Camden’s 54 councillors. It meets seven times a year. Sadly, because Camden has a Labour majority, it means that most of the major decisions are taken away from Full Council.
However, Full Council does give the opportunity to members to raise vital points on behalf of constituents, which constituents ask me to do regularly. With 54 councillors, only a minority of councillors get to speak even once in each meeting, and we often don’t get to motions or questions that I have tabled.
I’ve listed below all the occasions on which I have voted, spoken, or was slated to speak in Full Council. They are denoted (V) for votes, (R) for questions on reports, (D) for questions to deputations, (Q) for questions to Cabinet members, (O) for speeches in open session, (M) for motions, or (A) for amendments to motions. An asterisk (*) denotes that the tabled question or motion wasn’t heard.
12 November 2018
- In the themed debate on rough sleeping, I noted that despite the claims from Labour councillors that rough sleeping was caused by the government, Camden had the largest increases in rough sleeping nationally this year and since 2010, suggesting something was going specifically wrong in Camden, not nationally. I asked the Leader, who claimed that she wanted to influence the government, whether Camden had responded to the large number of government consultations on the matter, but she declined to answer (I assume we haven’t, but I will be FOIing accordingly).
- I gave my speech as Leader of the Opposition reiterating the point last month that Camden’s services were failing across the board, but specifically noted that the Cabinet member for schools had responded to me noting that our school results fell relative to other London boroughs by saying I was ‘badmouthing’ Camden. This attitude, whereby the administration is above criticism, is undemocratic charlatanism that risks letting down our kids. I also noted that Camden Conservatives stood on a platform of abstaining on motions that are outside the council’s control, and we were thus disappointed that Labour and Lib Dems again tabled motions that the council cannot control – we would be abstaining accordingly.
- In response to the North London Waste Plan, I asked what would happen if the identified ‘windfall’ sites were not able to be used (as it appears one site in Haringey might not be). I also further asked how long sites were safeguarded for and what this meant for Regis Road and the wider Kentish Town development framework. The Cabinet member said that the site could be used for development, provided Camden negotiated the use of one of the windfall sites elsewhere in lieu. However, as Regis Road is the only local dump in Camden, I am concerned by this.
- Per the above and our manifesto commitment, I abstained on both the Lib Dem and Labour motions on Brexit, as it is not within the powers of a local council. (V)
- I was due to propose a motion tabling an Animal Welfare Charter, which Camden could raise animal welfare standards by adopting. This would actually raise standards in Camden. However, we didn’t reach this, because Labour and the Lib Dems both wanted to show off that they had things to say about Brexit so tabled virtually identical motions on it (the is the second time they have bumped motions related to things in the council’s powers for motions about Brexit – last time, in 2016, was about air quality). (M*)
- 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)
8 October 2018
- I paid tribute to the sadly recently-deceased Sir Alan Greengross, one of my predecessors as Leader of Camden Conservatives and councillor for Hampstead Town, and also formerly Leader of the Conservatives on the Greater London Council. Lib Dem leader Flick Rea helpfully pointed out in her tribute speech that local councils shouldn’t waste their time talking about foreign policy, e.g. Camden’s then Nuclear Committee, which Sir Alan opposed: “As if we were going to stop anything.”
- I spoke to support the deputation calling for Camden to stop using glyphosate weedkiller, noting that Camden Conservatives’ manifesto committed to ending its use. I noted that the financial risks posed by lawsuits if we did not discontinue its use could be significant, and asked the deputees what their preferred solution, out of the many available, was. (D)
- I gave my speech as Leader of the Opposition noting that Camden’s Labour administration had failed to focus on its day job of improving services and ensuring efficient and effective local government. I reeled off a list of failures that had come to light just since the last full council meeting in July – on Camden building fewer homes than any London borough, its school standards declining relative to every Inner London borough, its housing stock now having more non-decent council homes than all councils but one nationwide, the recent doubling of flytipping, and its record as the worst council in the country for violent crime. Sadly, Labour don’t seem especially interested in reversing those trends, as for the last seven council meetings in a row, they have proposed motions on matters that are outside the powers of the council: posturing, rather than solving problems.
- I spoke to note that amendments that were discussed at the Audit Committee could be made by the Borough Solicitor to the Council’s submission to the Local Government Boundary Commission for England about the new ward boundaries. At that committee, I detailed a few elements of the draft submission that could weaken its persuasive power, and have ensured the Borough Solicitor will remove them. (M)
- I was due to propose a motion to launch an independent review of the Community Investment Programme: Camden’s failed estate regeneration programme, which is failing miserably to meet its revenue targets. With over 5,500 council homes in a dilapidated state, Camden needs investment to fix its broken housing stock, yet since its launch in 2010, the CIP has yielded an average of £67m less each year than had been forecast just two years before. This trend goes back to the project’s start, so Labour’s attempts to blame Brexit or Stamp Duty or other recent changes are juvenile and misplaced – they have simply mismanaged the project, and we need a review to find out if there is a better way forward. Sadly, Labour filibustered this, so we didn’t get to it. (M*)
16 July 2018
- I thanked the volunteers at the Hampstead Forum (and Camden officers) for successfully getting the Hampstead Neighbourhood Plan approved in the referendum in June. (A)
- I gave my first speech as Leader of the Opposition celebrating Camden’s diversity and noted that Camden Conservatives would be focusing on issues within the council’s control to help residents, not matters of national or international policy that we have no control over (the council leader responded by attacking national policy!). I also noted my commitment to the borough, having lived in six of its wards, having gone to university locally, having a mother that lives in Frognal & Fitzjohns, and having a father that was abandoned and adopted as a baby in Kentish Town. The leader of Camden’s Lib Dems responded, “I have never heard a Conservative group leader in all the years I’ve been on the council state his passionate convictions about Camden in quite the same way as Councillor Cooper.” Which was nice. (M)
- I gave notice of a question I wanted to ask about electric car charging points, but I wasn’t called to ask it, so Labour’s failures on this issue continue unabated. (Q*)
- I seconded Cllr Maria Higson’s amendment to Labour’s poorly thought-through motion on adult social care. Their motion took a deeply conspiratorial slant – alleging that the government was delaying the White Paper on adult social care so it could slash it in the spending review, rather than the obvious reason that the Government just announced £20bn of extra funding for the NHS and it needs to be considered how to make the most of this. Integration of health and adult social care is vital, yet Labour treat it as a fig leaf behind which there must be a conspiracy – yet this is a Labour Party that sees a conspiracy behind every blade of grass. (M)
- I seconded Cllr Steve Adams’s motion calling for the chair and the terms of reference of Phase 2 of the Chalcots review to be independently appointed to rebuild residents’ trust and to ensure we get to the bottom of why the safety risks at the Chalcots were not addressed before the evacuation. This was opposed by Labour, although they conceded that they would consult external bodies when setting the terms of reference. However, they made no such commitment regarding the chair, implying they would appoint someone to fit the outcome, not the technical demands of the job. (M)