Agenda item

Motions

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 suspension of court possession proceedings to at least the end of 2020.

·           Make Section 8 discretionary for arrears relating to loss of income due to Covid-19.

·           Scrapping so called “no fault” Section 21 evictions, the leading cause of family homelessness.

·           Reinstate funding for Legal Aid Housing Advice to restore the number of advice centres specialising in giving housing advice to low income renters.

 

Council urges the Mayor of London to support the council’s calls.

 

Clerk’s note: 4 unable to vote due to technical reasons.

 

 

Motion 2: Labour – protecting Lambeth’s children

The amendment form the Conservative members was NOT CARRIED by 1 vote for to 47 votes against.  Clerk’s note: 5 unable to vote due to technical reasons.

 

The Green amendment to the Motion was CARRIED by 47 votes for to 1 against.  Clerk’s note: 5 unable to vote due to technical reasons.

 

The Substantive Motion (as amended by the Greens) was CARRIED and Council RESOLVED, by 45 votes for to 1 against:

 

Council notes that the Covid-19 pandemic has presented challenges that negatively affect the development and opportunities of children and young people in Lambeth. And that prior to the lockdown, more than four in 10 Lambeth children were living in poverty which puts them at significantly greater risk and makes it harder for them to fulfil their potential.

 

Council notes that due to lockdown, limitations have emerged that have further emphasised the existing inequalities and barriers that exist within our society that stop children from having the opportunities and access of their more privileged peers. This includes access to education through: not being able to attend school, not having access to a computer or internet a place to study, enough food or a stress free environment and the government’s decision to remove the free bus pass for U18s in London from September.

 

Council further notes the contrast between the amazing work of Lambeth teachers and staff, Youth Workers and volunteers at food banks and hubs such as Grove Adventure Playground and Streatham Youth and Community Trust to support children in the borough and the shambolic central government approach to school reopening. There remains a critical lack of resources to ensure that children can access school resources at home, allow schools to put in place support structures for vulnerable children and a comprehensive strategy to address educational disadvantage.

 

Council notes the delay by the government to provide essential equipment and support or concrete guidance on how children will catch up on lost time.

 

Council also notes that it recognises many children are not known to social services and therefore can slip through the net of available support. These children can be particularly vulnerable.

 

Students’ well-being must be placed at the centre of how we adapt education to meet the needs of children and young people.  

 

Council welcomes:

·           The government U-turn on school meals and holiday hunger after the campaign by footballer Marcus Rashford.

·           That Lambeth Council has joined forces with Southwark Council and the independent charity, The Mayor’s Fund for London, to run an extended programme of holiday food and activity this summer to make sure no children in Lambeth are going without.

·           That Lambeth Council has begun delivering more than 1000 laptops to schools across the borough to boost online access amongst vulnerable children. Council notes that the support being given also includes food vouchers for students on free school meals, and art materials.

·           The work of Lambeth councillors with community and voluntary organisations within their wards to secure resources to assist with maintaining the wellbeing and development of our Borough’s children alongside other organisers and volunteers.

 

Council resolves:

·           To call on the government to abandon its highly partisan approach to London transport of hiking fares and scrapping free travel for under-18s, and work to find a new funding mechanism for Transport for London that is about helping London’s hard-pressed families and commuters, rather than harming them.

·           To call on the government to produce a comprehensive plan to tackle educational disadvantage as a result of covid-19, including measures to address digital exclusion, holiday hunger and the impact on vulnerable children of time away from the classroom.

o    That starting this calendar year, the council will lead work with partners in the Borough to develop a new child poverty needs assessment and prepare a new local child poverty strategy.

o    To address the issues raised, where relevant, with Trauma Informed Practice as the starting point. Students’ well-being must be placed at the centre of how we adapt education to meet the needs of children and young people.  

o    Provide Trauma Informed Practice training to officers and members.

o    To call on government to fund summer holiday local offers to children and young people therefore facilitating the council to coordinate the planning of summer holiday clubs, particularly in areas of deprivation, so that children and young people have a safe place to go to and positive activities to engage and interest them, and build their confidence for a successful return to school in September. Places for those on Free School Meals should be fully funded by the Government.

·           To bring forward a comprehensive local plan that includes specific catch-up plans for children with special educational or additional needs, addressing transport issues and providing substantial extra emotional and therapeutic support.

 

Clerk’s note: 7 unable to vote due to technical reasons.

 

 

Motion 3: Conservative – refugees’ human rights

The Green amendment to the motion was not carried with 6 votes for to 42 against.  Clerk’s note: 5 unable to vote due to technical reasons.

 

The Original Motion (from the Conservative Member) concerning refugee’s human rights was NOT CARRIED with 1 vote for and 48 against.  Clerk’s note: 4 unable to vote due to technical reasons.

 

 

Motion 4: Labour – Black Lives Matter

The amendment from the Conservative Member was not carried with 1 vote for to 48 against.  Clerk’s note: 4 unable to vote due to technical reasons.

 

The Green amendment to the Motion was NOT CARRIED by 5 votes for to 43 against.  Clerk’s note: 5 unable to vote due to technical reasons.

 

The Original Motion (from Labour) was CARRIED by 48 votes for to 1 against:

 

Council notes that:

·           Following the death of George Floyd at the hands of American police, the Black Lives Matter movement has gained serious momentum and is now rightly forcing us all to engage with conversations around the racism and racial inequality that exists within our society.

·           The Prime Minister has announced he will set up a new commission to look at all aspect of inequality, but that commission is set to be led by an adviser who has previously rejected the existence of structural racism.

·           In 2017 Lambeth established the Lambeth Equality Commission to identify the scale of inequality in our borough and to set out what we can all do to tackle it.

·           In 2018 a number of Black staff at Lambeth wrote a letter to the chief executive and the Leader of the council to address the racism that they were experiencing in the workplace.

 

Council further notes that:

·           Following the recommendations of the Lambeth Equality Commission and the letter from Black staff concerning racism in the council, the council has taken and continues to take measures to address racism and racial inequality.

·           An independent equality and diversity adviser, Patrick Vernon OBE, was appointed to review the council’s approach in this area and released a report last year with a series of recommendations, including a new board to monitor progress on the council’s work to implement the recommendations of the PV report, a ‘Statement of Common Understanding on Racism’ that was agreed with staff, councillors and trade unions and increased investment in staff development and support.

·           Lambeth Council increased the recruitment target for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic senior staff at the council to 59% within 3 years, so that our senior staff reflect the workforce and communities as a whole. The council has increased representation of ethnic minority staff in the top 5% of roles from 24% to 35% since 2018.

·           The ‘Raising the Game’ initiative focuses on closing the attainment gap between Black Caribbean pupils and their peers, as well as reducing disproportionate exclusion levels for this group. Schools within the Raising the Game initiative improved their results of Black Caribbean pupils by 11% from 2018. Permanent exclusions of Black Caribbean pupils are down from 15 to 4 from last year according to 2019 data. This is still disproportionate but a significant improvement.

·           Lambeth has been a leading local authority in campaigning on the Windrush scandal and fighting against the hostile environment. Most recently, our Cabinet Member for Equalities and Culture, Cllr Winifred (a member of the Windrush generation herself), wrote a letter that went out to all residents encouraging people affected as part of the Windrush scandal to apply to the Windrush Compensation Scheme.

·           Initiatives such as ELEVATE, Lambeth’s mission to open up the creative and cultural sector for all young people, are essential in breaking down the barriers that exist within our society to opportunity for young people from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities.

 

Council welcomes:

·           The measures that Lambeth Council and community organisations such as Black Thrive are taking to address racism and racial inequality within our borough, but acknowledges that there is still much more work to do.

·           The indication that the Prime Minister wishes to address racism and racial inequality in the UK due to his announcing of a commission to look at all aspects of inequality, but fears that this commission will result in a set of recommendations that are not adopted by government, delayed, or not properly met – such as has been the case with the Windrush Review and the Lammy Review.

 

Council resolves to:

·           Renew our commitment to fighting racism wherever is rears its ugly head, and to continue to work to dismantle racial inequality both within the council and in our borough more widely.

·           Share the findings of the Lambeth Equality Commission and details of the steps we have taken in relation to its findings to address racial inequality in Lambeth with the government.

·           Call on the government to focus on implementing the full recommendations from existing and recent reviews relating to racism and racial inequality within the UK, such as the Windrush Review and the Lammy Review mentioned above.

·           Call on the government to immediately take action to counter the disproportionate effect of Covid-19 on Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic people in the UK.

 

Clerk’s note: 4 unable to vote due to technical reasons.

 

 

Motion 5: Labour/Green – Atonement and Reparations for the United Kingdom’s Transatlantic Traffic in Enslaved Africans

The Original joint Motion (from the Greens and Labour parties) was CARRIED by 48 votes for to 1 against:

 

Council notes that:

·           The United Kingdom played a major role in the Transatlantic Traffic in Enslaved Africans (TTEA) which saw at least 15 million Africans forcibly trafficked to the Western Hemisphere with many thousands losing their lives during the crossing from Africa to the Americas on British Ships.

·           A great deal of the wealth of the United Kingdom was founded on this vile crime against humanity, and the legacies of chattel, colonial and neocolonial forms of enslavement are still prevalent in our society today.

·           We deplore a situation where the beneficiaries of the genocide and ecocide of African people and their environments, including many institutions and families in the UK, continue to benefit but have not made reparations, while the descendants of the victims continue to suffer racism, discrimination and inequality.

·           One of the most visible and enduring legacies of African enslavement, colonisation and neocolonialism is systematic racism that exists within Western societies, which the Pan-African Liberation Movement, the Black Lives Matter Movement, the International Decade for People of African Descent Coalition UK and other organisations within Black communities are campaigning to eliminate. The systematic racism that is ingrained in our society manifests itself in inequality in education, housing, health, employment and the criminal justice system.

·           The legacy of slavery is responsible for ingraining racial inequality within Western society, that manifests itself both in overt acts of violent racism, such as the death of George Floyd at the hands of American police, Black deaths in police, prison, psychiatric custody and immigration detention in the UK, or in institutional failings to provide sufficient support and care for Black communities, such as the disproportionate impact of Covid-19 on Black people in the UK. 

·           Whilst the United Kingdom abolished slavery in 1833, it did so only after 200 years of profiting from it. When abolishing slavery it paid £20 million, the equivalent of £17 billion today, to ‘compensate’ enslavers, whilst those which were enslaved were not compensated at all. Further that this was not paid off until 2015.

·           Lambeth has one of the largest populations of people of African descent in the country.

 

Council further notes that:

·           The United Nations ‘Basic Principles and Guidelines on the Right to A Remedy and Reparation for Victims of Gross Violations of International Human Rights Law and Serious Violations of International Humanitarian Law’ provides a framework for a comprehensive reparatory justice process.

·           The International Decade for People of African Descent, proclaimed by General Assembly resolution 68/237 and to be observed from 2015 to 2024, provides an opportunity for the United Nations, Member States, civil society and all other relevant actors to join together with people of African descent and take effective measures for the implementation of the programme of activities in the spirit of recognition, justice and development.

·           The work of Dr Nicola Frith, Professor Joyce-Hope-Scott, the Pan-Afrikan Reparations Coalition in Europe (PARCOE), the International Network of Scholars & Activists For Afrikan Reparations (INOSAAR) and their Principles of Participation which have been endorsed by the International Social Movement for Afrikan Reparations (ISMAR) and a global process of engagement in the UK, the US, Africa and the Caribbean.

·           The CARICOM Reparation Commission has worked on a path to reconciliation, truth, and justice for the victims of slavery and their descendants. Further to this, it campaigns on the moral, ethical and legal case for the payment of reparations by the Governments of all former colonial powers and relevant institutions of those countries to the nations and people of the Caribbean Community for the Crimes against Humanity of Native Genocide, the TTEA and a racialised system of chattel Slavery.

·           In 1993 Bernie Grant, MP tabled Early Day Motion (EDM) #1987 in the House of Commons welcoming the Abuja Proclamation after the first Pan-African Conference on Reparations sponsored by the Organisation of African Unity urging all countries who were enriched by enslavement and colonisation to review the case for reparations for “Africa and to Africans in the Diaspora”.

·           In 2003 the Lambeth based Black Quest for Justice Campaign (BQJC) initiated a class action for Pan-African Reparations for Global Justice against Queen Elizabeth II and agents of the Crown as Head of State and Head of the British Commonwealth calling for the establishment of a Reparations Commission of Inquiry. This action was denied on the grounds that the Crown could not be prosecuted, and these crimes could not be enforced prior to the enactment of the International Criminal Courts Act in 2001.

·           In 2004 the Rastafarian movement were denied their appeal for reparation because the UK government felt it could not be held responsible for events of past centuries.

·           Since 2015, the Stop the Maangamizi Campaign (The Maangamizi is the African Holocaust of chattel, colonial and neocolonial forms of enslavement) in association with the Afrikan Emancipation Day Reparations March Committee have been organising the annual Afrikan Emancipation Day Reparations March. The campaign presented the Stop the Maangamizi Petition to the Office of the UK Prime Minister calling for the establishment an All-Party Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry for Truth and Reparatory Justice.

·           It is institutions such as the Black Cultural Archives and the International Museum of Slavery which effectively teach people about the history of the TTEA and its legacy, not statues of enslavers like Edward Colston or Robert Clayton.

·           The national curriculum fails to educate our nation’s children and young people about the history of slavery and its repercussions.

 

Council welcomes:

·           The announcement that Lambeth is conducting an audit of all Lambeth’s public landmarks, statues roads names and works of art in the borough for any links with slavery by Cllr Sonia Winifred, and the consultation which will follow on the results of the audit.

·           The celebration of Windrush Day 2020 on 22nd June, and the contribution of Cllr Sonia Winifred, Lambeth Council, and organisations in Lambeth such as the Black Cultural Archives in campaigning for justice for the Windrush generation, and for a permanent Windrush memorial in Windrush Square.

 

Council resolves:

·           To call on the UK government to establish a commission to study the impact of the United Kingdom’s Transatlantic Traffic in Enslaved Africans on social, political and economic life within the UK and the rest of the world in order to begin understanding the legacy of slavery on the society we live in and to start conversations on how to address it, which go further than a symbolic apology.

·           Write to the Speaker of Parliament, Chair of the Women and Equalities Committee and Chair of the Home Affairs Committee to request that they establish, and seek UK Government support for, an All-Party Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry for Truth and Reparatory Justice and call on the Government to commit to holistic reparations taking into consideration various proposals for reparations in accordance with the United Nations Framework on Reparations.

·           To support the innovative work which has been carried out by the Runnymede Trust, the Black Curriculum and others to engage young people and teachers with more expansive, representative and inclusive histories of Britain, and to overhaul the curriculum to better educate about the United Kingdom’s role in slavery.

 

Clerk’s note: 4 unable to vote due to technical reasons.

 

 

Supporting documents: