There was a meeting of Camden Council on Monday, 25th November. As part of my accountability to residents, below are the actions I took at the meeting.
- I paid tribute to Frank Dobson, who passed away last week. Frank was the Leader of the Council from 1973 to 1975 and one of the borough’s MPs from 1979 to 2015. I recalled a story of our first meeting, when I was dragged in at short notice to debate him when a student at UCL. (A)
- In response to a deputation to the council by Chalcots residents about the £76m works contract for the towers, I noted my deep concern at the way residents have been treated. I noted that there were near-unanimous opposition to the decisions made by Camden Council in a recent survey, and that the outcomes of this were being ignored. (T)
- I gave my speech as Leader of the Opposition noting that the Council was ignoring its duties by cancelling its debate on Camden’s abysmal school standards. The claim was this was done because of purdah, but this only prevents publicising views on national policy during election periods – not discussing local issues that might embarrass the administration. Sadly, the borough being Labour run made a decision that helped Labour – while allowing a later debate that concerned nothing BUT national policy. (S)
- I had been scheduled to ask the Leader of the Council about HS2, but was not called. This is the second meeting in a row that had happened. I wonder what the administration is trying to hide… (Q*)
- I noted my support for the council leaving the Treasury Management Strategy unchanged, especially not to buy commercial assets, as other councils have. I noted that the new £50m funds limits for ultra short dated debt was actually a limitation (not a liberalisation, as some had suggested), as the general threshold for funds is £100m. (R)
- I seconded an amendment to the Lib Dem motion calling for a review into how Camden can lawfully divest from fossil fuel companies. The Conservative group supports this in principle, but the Lib Dem motion did not refer at all to reviewing what this might cost our pension fund. Given the fund is in deficit, any costs would have to be borne by Camden’s general fund, and so come out of funding available to reduce emissions directly. As such, our amendment required the commissioning of a report into how much the financial cost would be, to see if there’s a better way to reduce CO2 emission. (M).
- I proposed an amendment to Labour’s motion demanding that Camden stop receiving block grants from the government. I noted that Camden received the third-most of any council in the country and had among the worst service outcomes. This shows that Camden cannot blame the appalling quality of services in Camden – which Labour admitted to – on anyone else, as every other council in the country does better. Sadly, Labour didn’t accept any responsibility, despite literally having voted themselves a 54% pay increase last month. (M)
- I was disappointed that we didn’t reach the motion, which I was due to propose, which would have increased recycling rates in Camden by using technology. The proposal would have introduced an app – or ‘skill’ – on Amazon Alexa that allows people to ask Alexa what they can and can’t recycle. This is because Camden has plummeting recycling rates and among the highest contamination rates in the country – which is due to Camden not informing residents what can and can’t be recycled. Labour unlawfully suspended standing orders to get 20 extra minutes of political posturing in beforehand, but refused to even allow 1 minute for this constructive local motion: proving how uninterested Labour are in local issues. (M*)