Agenda and minutes

Council - Wednesday 15 July 2020 7.00 pm

Venue: Microsoft Teams - please copy and paste the following link into your browser: https://bit.ly/2CcUPtu

Contact: Wayne Chandai, Tel: 020 7926 0029 Email: wchandai@lambeth.gov.uk 

Items
No. Item

1.

Declaration of Pecuniary Interests

    Under Standing Order 4.4, where any councillor has a Disclosable Pecuniary Interest (as defined in the Members’ Code of Conduct (para. 4)) in any matter to be considered at a meeting of the Council, a committee, sub-committee or joint committee, they must withdraw from the meeting room during the whole of the consideration of that matter and must not participate in any vote on that matter unless a dispensation has been obtained from the Monitoring Officer.

     

     

    Minutes:

    There were none.

     

2.

Announcements

    Minutes:

    The Mayor noted that Councillors David Amos, Anna Birley, Kevin Craig, Nigel Haselden, John Kazantzis, Joshua Lindsey and Andy Wilson had given their apologies for absence.

    ·           The Mayor reported that he had designed a pair of Pride sunglasses with Cubits to be silent auctioned for the Albert Kennedy Trust.  People could access the auction via the Mayoral twitter account or by emailing cubits@playpr.com.

    ·           There was a Covid-19 honours this year instead of the Queen’s birthday honours.  The Mayor asked for notable individuals in the Lambeth’s communities to be nominated.

    ·           The Mayor thanked volunteers and staff for the Brixton Food Hub, which he had recently volunteered at, for delivering over 100 tonnes of food, with 35 partner organisations to Lambeth’s residents.

    ·           The Mayor noted the virtual Country Show and asked that interested parties contact lambethcountryshow@lambeth.gov.uk to get involved.

     

     

3.

Petitions and Deputations

    Petitions will be presented at the meeting by Councillors.

     

    The deadline for the receipt of requests for a deputation is 5.00pm

    10 July 2020. Email: wchandai@lambeth.gov.uk

     

    Minutes:

    Deputations

    A deputation was made to Council about Dorchester Court and protection of listed buildings. Council noted that:

    ·           Ben Archard, Dorchester Court resident, summarised the aspirational history of the well-balanced Grade II listed communal housing development in Herne Hill, originally built in 1935, currently on the Heritage at Risk Register.  He noted poor management of the estate since 1959, with latticework holding balconies, brickwork and windows together, and infested and mould-covered interiors. This development was immensely treasured by the community and needed preservation and protection; and asked the Council for help to give these buildings the proper care, attention and maintenance they deserved.

    ·           Councillor Matthew Bennett, Cabinet Member for Planning, Investment and New Homes, thanked Mr Archard for his deputation on behalf of a large campaign, and commented on the maintenance, rent rises and the landlord of the buildings.  The Council shared residents’ frustrations and had lobbied for many years with MPs and ward councillors but was still unable to properly regulate the local rental sector.  The installation of building supports and addition to the Heritage at Risk Register had followed Council action, but whilst Planning officers had reviewed extra protection, urgent work notices were limited to vacant buildings, although the Council continued to monitor proposals.  In closing, he reiterated the Council’s continuing support for residents.

     

    A deputation was made to Council about campaigns to prevent scrapping of Oyster photocard. Council noted that:

    ·           Tamani (JC) Clayton and Ezekial Johnson, Lambeth Youth Council, noted the Government proposal to suspend free travel for under 18s in September 2020 as part of TfL’s emergency funding agreement.  Over 180,000 had signed a petition by Lewisham’s youth councillor Joshua Brown-Smith to oppose, noting that zip cards were a lifeline for London’s young people, and primarily affected those from lower income backgrounds.  They requested councillors join them and support their campaign.

    ·           Councillor Claire Holland, Deputy Leader of the Council (Sustainable Transport, Environment and Clean Air), thanked the Youth Council members for their deputation and the leadership of their London colleagues.  She noted that the removal of young people’s travel passes was an attack on rights, hard-working families and participation in extracurricular activities; disproportionately affecting lower-income families, BAME communities and exacerbated existing inequalities.  Furthermore, whilst all wanted increased walking and cycling, it was disingenuous to provide this as a reason, and urged all to sign the petition and offered the Council’s further support.

     

    Petitions

    Council received two petitions:

    i.           Councillor Fred Cowell with 81 Dalmore Road resident signatories for the implementation of 2018’s Our Streets Programme to reduce traffic from the South Circular to enable safer areas for cycling and walking and to fulfil the Council’s lower traffic neighbourhood objectives; and,

    ii.         Councillor Clair Wilcox from 101 signatories to ask for council assistance to stop speeding motorists on Strathbrook Road in Streatham South.

     

     

4.

Cabinet Statement

    Minutes:

    The Leader of the Council, Councillor Jack Hopkins, addressed Council and noted the following:

    ·           Lambeth faced extraordinary challenges from Covid-19, particularly on vulnerable persons and those from BAME communities. It was not just a health crisis, but a socio-political one.

    ·           Future challenges would be greater than those experienced in the past, with a need to adapt lives to contain its spread and mitigate the enormous economic, mental and physical health impacts. 

    ·           Covid-19 had also highlighted existing inequalities and whilst the Council celebrated diversity, people had often been unaware of hardships faced by their neighbours.

    ·           The 20 July 2020 Cabinet report would set out this challenge and the Council’s response; noting the importance of health, homes, inequalities, educational opportunities, a dynamic local economy and jobs, maintaining environmental gains and tackling climate change, strengthening communities and making volunteering easier.  It also set out a commitment to work with others to address these challenges and would be presented alongside an updated capital investment programme.

    ·           Lambeth Council was determined to build for a better future that works for all, but needed central Government to keep promises, implement a functional Test and Trace system, and fulfil its side of the bargain for residents.

     

5.

Opposition Statement

    Minutes:

    The Co-Leader of the Opposition, Councillor Nicole Griffiths, addressed Council and noted the following:

    ·           The Greens backed proposals to support residents but laid down additional challenges such as holding landlords to account and supporting the zipcard campaign.  The Labour-Green joint motion on the commission of an inquiry on enslaved Africans was highlighted as an example of political parties working together successfully. 

    ·           The Council needed to improve being corporate parents and asked that it listen more intently to the survivors of abuse.

    ·           Transparency was needed with the £28m budget shortfall and its expected impacts, whilst protecting children and adult social services.

    ·           The Homes for Lambeth (HfL) and estate programmes needed to be rethought, as they would result in fewer council rent homes, lower housing standards and increase carbon emissions; with the consultations on these contrary to the Council’s procurement policy, ethos and values.

    ·           The Greens welcomed low traffic neighbourhoods but urged bolder plans for the climate emergency.

    ·           The use of special urgency for the GLL decision was queried.

    ·           Improved Council leadership was needed, such as enforcing expert medical opinion to have face coverings in public.

     

6.

Questions from Councillors pdf icon PDF 359 KB

    Minutes:

    1.         Councillor Jonathan Bartley to Councillor Jack Hopkins, Leader of the Council:

    Supplementary question

    ·           Councillor Bartley asked for council tenants’ reassurance that the ban on evictions would extend past the Council’s policy stated date of 24 August 2020.

    Supplementary answer

    ·           Councillor Hopkins responded that the eviction policy was announced prior to the Government’s plans, and the Council, Labour party and LGA were pressing Parliament to extend, but there would be no Lambeth council tenant evictions during the pandemic.

     

    2.         Councillor Tim Briggs to Councillor Jacqui Dyer, Cabinet Member for Jobs, Skills and Community Safety:

    Supplementary question

    ·           Councillor Briggs asked that Councillor Dyer apologise to the police, the Council, and Black Lives Matter (BLM) as the BLM policy clearly called for the abolition of police and asked for the clarity on whether the Council was in agreement with the aims of the BLM movement.

    Supplementary answer

    ·           Councillor Dyer noted that the BLM’s stated objectives in the USA and UK were different, especially with regards to policing.  The Council would continue to work with the police and on its commitment to the goals of Black Thrive and BLM.  These goals included tackling systemic racism in society and working with the police to improve their practices, for the benefit of 30% of Lambeth’s population.

     

    3.         Councillor Jess Leigh to Councillor Jennifer Brathwaite, Deputy Leader (Housing and Homelessness):

    Supplementary question

    ·           Councillor Leigh asked how many tenants and residents in Tenant and Resident Associations (TRA) were reflective of the borough’s population and how the Council would ensure this and the TRA’s reach could be improved.

    Supplementary answer

    ·           Councillor Brathwaite stated her belief that TRAs should reflect the communities they represented, which was a recommendation of Lambeth’s Equality Commission and an over-arching Lambeth Plan ambition.  The Council appreciated the TRA’s work, but noted it was often disempowering being represented by people from a dissimilar background.  The diversity of TRAs had improved however, with 46% BAME members compared to 34% under the old Housing Forums, although not all TRAs were as diverse as possible.  She concluded by noting she would personally drive efforts to encourage diversity and asked colleagues to encourage those under-represented to become active members.

     

    4.         Councillor Martin Tiedemann to Councillor Jim Dickson and Danny Adilypour, Cabinet Members for Health and Adult Social Care:

    Supplementary question

    ·           Councillor Tiedemann asked for details on the outbreak control plan to minimise second wave of Covid-19, especially for BAME and migrant communities.

    Supplementary answer

    ·           Councillors Jim Dickson thanked Councillor Tiedemann for his continued championship of the often-under-represented Latin American community.  Lambeth’s Outbreak Control Plan had been signed off by the 02 July 2020 Health and Wellbeing Board which would help prevent and alleviate future outbreaks and reduce transmission rates.  Lambeth had one of the lowest transmission rates in London and in the wider country, but the key to future response was communication and the Council would continue to ensure that all communities were reached and had the latest messages.

     

    5.         Councillor Jon Davies to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.

7.

Reports

7.a

Overview and Scrutiny Annual Report pdf icon PDF 272 KB

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    Councillors Tim Briggs, Jonathan Bartley and Liz Atkins spoke in relation to the Overview and Scrutiny Committee (OSC) annual report.  Scrutiny officers were thanked for their diligent work and it was noted that OSC needed to continue to be non-political, with the scrutiny process vital to ensure transparency, openness, improve decision-making and to protect those most vulnerable.  Scrutiny also allowed local people a means to tackle issues relevant to them, set priorities and be heard, and deliver improvements. 

    ·           Councillor Tim Briggs noted that whilst Lambeth held inquiries and reviews, it often failed to act upon them; the HfL programme did not have suitable scrutiny, but housing was a key issue.  Furthermore, scrutiny would be problematic with a Cabinet system of local governance.

    ·           Councillor Jonathan Bartley stated that it often appeared that Cabinet disliked scrutiny and asked for greater Cabinet Member attendance.  He reiterated that it was best practice to have an opposition councillor chair OSC for improved trust, accountability and decision-making; noting the initial usage of emergency powers legislation in contravention of the Constitution; and proposed holding a scrutiny improvement review. 

    ·           Councillor Ed Davie noted during discussion that several Labour Members had called-in decisions whilst he was Chair of the OSC.

    ·           Councillor Liz Atkins, Chair of the OSC, also reiterated calls for non-partisanship and that it was crucial that opposition councillors remained engaged in the scrutiny process.  Councillor Atkins then recorded previously considered reports and set out future issues on the OSC work programme; noting key challenges to improve public participation, particularly for those most marginalised, and to review how OSC performed and could be improved.

     

    RESOLVED: by 42 votes for to 6 votes abstaining that the Overview and Scrutiny Committee Annual Report be approved.  Clerk’s note: 5 unable to vote due to technical reasons.

     

    The Democratic Services Manager responded to a question that recording names in Council would require a roll call of Members, and councillors confirmed they were content to proceed without. 

     

     

8.

Motions pdf icon PDF 607 KB

    Minutes:

    The Mayor noted that the emergency motion on Thorncliffe had been received on 09 July 2020 and in discussion with the Director of Legal and Governance, it was agreed that it did not constitute an emergency and that other means; such as discussing with senior officers, Cabinet Members and consultation, were available to councillors instead.

     

     

    Motion 1: Green – rent arrears

    The Labour amendment to the Motion was CARRIED by 41 votes for to 5 votes against and 1 abstaining.  Clerk’s note: 6 unable to vote due to technical reasons.

     

    The Substantive Motion (as amended by Labour) was CARRIED and Council RESOLVED, by 48 votes for to 1 against:

     

    Government should forgive all rent arrears of private renters that have resulted from loss of income during the pandemic and compensate landlords

     

    Lambeth Council is committed to help residents who rent from private landlords who are struggling to pay their rent as a result of the economic and health impact of COVID-19.

     

    Nearly 2.5 million private renters in London alone will be affected by gaps in provision from Government help. London renters already struggle with high rents and renters are more likely to be in precarious or low-paid work.

     

    Many of these are key and front-line workers who now face destitution. They work for the NHS, the council, social services, shops, supermarkets and across all essential services. They are the members of the workforce that need protection both during and after the pandemic. Many are BAME from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities.

     

    The government strategies are either failing in the immediate term or are setting up failure further down the road. Deferrals or delaying the eviction process will not alone confront the loss of income experienced by private renters. Universal credit is too slow moving and the housing element often too low. Meanwhile landlords continue to demand rent be paid. 

     

    Council notes the call by the Renters Union and housing charities that rent arrears should be forgiven completely.

     

    Council welcomes the work done by the Council during the Coronavirus crisis and lockdown to support residents with their housing who are experiencing hardship – including but not limited to: Expanding our Emergency Support Scheme for those at immediate risk of financial hardship; expanding the budget for Discretionary Housing Payments by £1 million to support residents who may struggle to pay their housing costs due to the crisis; and pausing all enforcement activity against people for council tax and rent arrears during the pandemic, whilst also offering council tax payment flexibility options.

     

    Lambeth Council therefore calls on the Government to:

    ·           Protect private renters by ensuring that the government covers any shortfall in rent payments all rent arrears that have occurred during the pandemic through a loss of income are forgiven, with no impact on tenants’ credit ratings, and with landlords compensated by Government for lost income. 

    ·           Extend legislation to prevent landlords from introducing substantial and unreasonable rent rises.

    ·           Immediately increase welfare support for renters, including suspending the benefit cap.

    ·           Extend the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.