Venue: Committee Room (B6) - Lambeth Town Hall, Brixton, London, SW2 1RW. View directions
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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.
Cllr Mary Atkins, Vice Chair, welcomed everyone to the meeting and all present introduced themselves.
Apologies for absence were noted.
There were no declarations of pecuniary interest.
Cllr Bartley made a statement to the committee confirming that although he was a signatory to both call in forms, he was approaching the meeting with an open mind and would listen to all the arguments before making a decision.
The Senior Democratic Services Officer outlined the procedure for the call in hearings as set out in the agenda papers and stressed that both call ins had been accepted only on limited grounds as referred to. Comments and questions should therefore be confined to these grounds.
Cllr Pete Elliott introduced the call in and make the following key points:
· The call in was made not to block action but to ensure the Council’s efforts to tackle the climate emergency were truly collaborative, including facilitating the input of the Green party which had over 50 years’ expertise in this area
· The action plan set out in the report had had no input from opposition councillors despite the Green party being the driving force behind the Council resolution to declare a climate emergency
· The Greens had connections with many subject matter experts, including academics, engineers and economists in the climate change field who could add value to the action plan, yet none had been invited to contribute
· The action plan failed to provide an assessment of the financial cost or carbon reduction impact of the various measures set out. Other local authorities, including Bristol, Manchester and Edinburgh, had gone much further on this
· He was concerned that allowing the decision to stand would give rise to a democratic deficit as an annual report to Cabinet did not provide for enough scrutiny
· The Green party continued to be willing and able to help develop best practice – for example, via a cross party member and officer steering group
The Chair then invited members of the public who had registered to speak to address the committee. Sarah Matthews of the Sortition Foundation and Hannah Chapman, Green party member, said that:
· Progress against the action plan could not be monitored without a baseline assessment
· The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) had stated that global carbon emissions would need to peak in 2020; therefore an annual report to Cabinet was not enough
· The pace of change of climate science also meant annual reporting was insufficient
· Formal mechanisms were needed to hold the Council to account, such as a standing committee
· The Council should consider the establishment of a randomly selected group of residents with a rotating membership which would meet regularly to receive evidence, scrutinise actions and assess options to achieve carbon neutrality, to help determine the best way forward for Lambeth
· The current proposals regarding scrutiny of the action plan would effectively remove any non-Cabinet influence. This would be detrimental for democracy and for the plan itself
· With reference to procurement (section 4 of the action plan), the Council should require suppliers to undertake the actions set out rather than just asking them to do so
The Deputy Leader of the Council (Environment & Clean Air), Cllr Claire Holland, responded to the points raised as follows:
· Lambeth took a bold step in becoming the first London council to declare a climate emergency back in January. This was done in recognition of the huge challenges ahead
· She was clear that the only way to avoid climate catastrophe was to work together. She had already had conversations with groups such as Extinction Rebellion, Friends of the Earth and Mums for Lungs and would continue to engage widely including with members from all sides ... view the full minutes text for item 2.
Cllr Pete Elliott introduced the call in and made the following key points:
· The design of housing service contracts after 2020 was a big decision and, if done well, could bring significant benefits. However, while elements such as the removal of duplication were welcome, there was a risk that the outcome would offer little change to the status quo and therefore residents would suffer from the same mistakes being made
· Despite many residents giving up their time over the last year to participate in the Resident Procurement Panel (RPP) they did not feel they had been properly consulted. He wished for the decision to be referred back to the Cabinet Member for Housing in order that genuine resident consultation and involvement could take place
· The options appraisal was incomplete and the timeline was tight
The Chair then invited members of the public who had registered to speak to address the committee. Nicola Curtis (Chair of South Area Board), Antony Wynn (Lambeth Homeowners; Association) and Ian Holden (Vice Chair, Central Area Board), said that:
· Extensive resources were required to set up framework agreements and relationships needed to be established between the Council and suppliers
· Many smaller, newer companies did not have the resources to establish themselves on frameworks as the Council were under no obligation to use them, meaning they tended to favour larger, more established companies. Therefore the intention of having project by project competition and using small, local suppliers was unlikely to materialise
· The contracts for independent resident advisors were completed via a framework and this resulted in only one viable candidate
· Frameworks could be good for simple major works provided there was sufficient competition but wider procurement was a better option for high value contracts
· The uncertainty surrounding Brexit meant it was far from clear which companies would survive and which building projects would go ahead
· There were concerns at the intention to enter into long contracts despite the suggested introduction of no fault break clauses as any break would likely be expensive and lead to disruption and dips in service
· Existing qualifying long term agreements (QLTAs) for responsive repairs and maintenance had been disastrous. QLTAs should only be used for easily-costed, straightforward jobs
· The options appraisal was never completed and benchmarking with other boroughs was not carried out
· A comparable borough operated an efficient and cost effective system with more providers including smaller companies and suspensions in the event of bad performance. Such options were not discussed or considered in Lambeth
· Residents were not confident that the Council could manage long term contracts and assurance was needed on this
· The timeline did not allow for completion of the options appraisal and ensuing consultation
· External checks and balances should be part of the process
The Cabinet Member for Housing, Cllr Paul Gadsby, responded to the points raised as follows:
· The drive behind the proposals was to improve on the current situation
· Regarding consultation, he was not aware of many boroughs that had set up RPPs ... view the full minutes text for item 3.