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The Minutes of the Annual Council meeting held on 24 September 2020.
That the minutes of the previous meeting held on 24 September 2020 be agreed as a correct record and the Chair be authorised to sign them.
Declarations of Interest
If you have a Disclosable Pecuniary Interest* in an item of business:
§ if it is not yet on the council’s register, you must declare both the existence and details of it at the start of the meeting or when it becomes apparent;
§ you may choose to declare a Disclosable Pecuniary Interest that is already in the register in the interests of openness and transparency.
In both the above cases, you must leave the room without participating in discussion of the item.
If you have a personal interest in an item of business and you intend to speak or vote on the item you must declare both the existence and details of it at the start of the meeting or when it becomes apparent but you may participate in the discussion and vote on the item.
(b) Sponsorship - Any payment or other financial benefit in respect of your expenses in carrying out duties as a member, or of your election; including from a trade union.
(c) Contracts - Any current contract for goods, services or works, between you or your partner (or a body in which one of you has a beneficial interest) and the council.
(d) Land - Any beneficial interest in land which is within the council’s area.
(e) Licences - Any licence to occupy land in the council’s area for a month or longer.
(f) Corporate tenancies - Any tenancy between the council and a body in which you or your partner have a beneficial interest.
(g) Securities - Any beneficial interest in securities of a body which has a place of business or land in the council’s area, if the total nominal value of the securities exceeds £25,000 or one hundredth of the total issued share capital of that body or of any one class of its issued share capital.
This applies to all members present at the meeting.
(ii) Order of business
(iii) Declaration of discussion items
(iv) Mayor’s announcements
(v) Length of speeches
Apologies for absence were received from Cllr Hamitouche.
(ii) Order of Business
No changes were proposed to the order of business.
(iii) Declaration of Discussion Items
(iv) Mayoral Announcements
The Mayor reflected on her first months as Mayor and how they had been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. The Mayor was honoured to have taken part in Remembrance Day, albeit on a much smaller scale than normal and was pleased to have been able to attend a number of events, including judging the Clean Air competition with the Deputy Mayor, presenting the Caretaker Awards, visiting some community events, and to have virtually attended many others, including a number of events held as part of Black History Month.
The Mayor paid tribute to the community organisations supporting the local response to the pandemic and advised that she would be delivering Christmas hampers to some residents over the coming weeks.
(v) Length of Speeches
The Mayor reminded councillors to stay within the permitted length for speeches.
The Leader was pleased to be able to join the Mayor at a number of events, including Remembrance Sunday and the incredible programme of events to mark Black History Month. Despite the challenges of the pandemic, the Leader was delighted that as a borough we had been able to mark those important occasions.
The Leader commented on the state of the pandemic, noting that London was at a critical moment. Infections were rising across the city and there Leader called on everyone to take the steps needed to protect themselves and to keep their friends, family and community safe. In particular, the Leader commented on the importance of the ‘Hands Face Space’ message, avoiding crowded areas, respecting the rules, and exercising common sense to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
The Leader welcomed that a vaccine would soon be available and said that Islington Council would support the NHS in the roll out of the vaccine. However, the vaccine was not an instant solution and we all must continue to stay safe over the Christmas period. The Leader was concerned by confused messaging from national government was worried that relaxation of the rules over Christmas would contribute to the spread of the virus.
The Council’s top priority was keeping residents safe and the Council was working with the borough’s diverse communities to make sure that messages are spread and understood. The Council was supporting residents through the We Are Islington service, the Resident Support Scheme, and supporting businesses to keep trading safely. The Council was also working with schools to make sure they could open safely, operating the local contact tracing system, and supporting the provision of test centres in the borough. However, the Leader commented that local authorities needed more local control and less national top-down imposition, proper resourcing, and less confused messaging from the government to help keep people safe.
The Leader paid tribute to everyone who had lost loved ones to the virus and thanked everyone in Islington for their overwhelming community spirit over the past nine months. The Leader thanked the faith and community groups, local volunteers, local businesses, council staff and NHS heroes for everything they had done. The borough had united to keep everyone safe and supported.
The Council would continue to work in the new year to make sure that communities were supported and safe through the next wave of the pandemic. The festive period would be different this year, but the Leader hoped that everyone would have an opportunity for a break over the coming weeks.
A petition objecting to the council’s People Friendly Streets programme was presented by Zak Vora. As the petition had received over 2,000 signatures, the council would debate the petition at the next meeting.
Question (a) from Youth Councillor Rosie to Councillor Comer-Schwartz, Executive Member for Children, Schools and Families
We hosted a community engagement event with the Somali Community following the tragic death of 2 young Somali adult men. The event was attended by over 50 people including many young people and Council Leaders and the Borough Commander. What else can be done to reassure all young people in the borough who may be feeling unsafe that their safety is a priority?
Thank you for asking that important question. We were devastated to learn of the tragic deaths earlier this year. My heart goes out to their families, friends and the wider Somali community. I want to reassure young people that keeping them safe is a priority for me and for the Council. We have made significant steps forward in our Youth Safety work over recent years, and the number of knife crime injuries for victims under 25 have fallen by more than 46% from 2017. However, one young person affected by knife crime is one too many, and we know we have more work to do. Prevention and early intervention is key. We are one of the first councils in the country to approach youth safety from a safeguarding perspective, recognising that many offenders have experienced childhood trauma, discrimination and exploitation. We see young people involved in crime as children first. Exploitation and county lines are all child protection issues and we know that family circumstances and school exclusion can often lead to contact with the youth justice system. We know there are viable routes out of crime and we must do more to make sure of that young people can access them. This is why we have our Youth Offending service, our Integrated Gangs Team, our Targeted Youth Service and Post-16 Progression Service, as well as third sector agencies such as Arsenal in the Community and Abianda to support vulnerable young people and wrap-around them to reduce the risk of school exclusion and to create opportunities for them. The Youth Strategy is the next step in the Council’s work to keep young people safe. The strategy will help us to identify the young people who need more support, we are working with the violence reduction unit to help parents and carers to keep their children safe and to reduce inequality and disproportionality as part of this.
You talked about trying to find the root of the problem and the amazing resources that are available to support young people. How would you make sure that you are getting to the right group of young people, or finding them at the right time? Could you please talk more about how you are going to engage with them?
You are correct, we need to do all we can to make contact with the right groups of young people as early as possible, as the consequences can be fatal as we know. We need everyone in the borough to do this ... view the full minutes text for item 119.
Question (a) from Nick Clarke to Cllr Champion, Executive Member for Environment & Transport:
As we welcome the Council's carbon net zero 2030 and biodiversity plans we recognise that at this moment in history we truly must act locally and think globally. For example every minute an area the size of a football pitch is cleared in the Amazon - most of it to be used for cattle or crops to feed animals. 8% of global CO2 emissions come from the production of concrete.
We cannot achieve net zero if we do not change our diets and change our use of concrete.
Therefore, will the Council take account of the carbon emissions and biodiversity impacts of the food it serves in the schools it controls and the events it hosts, and of the construction processes of the buildings being erected in the borough (e.g. including the CO2 used in the production of the cement and transport)?
In particular, will the Council follow Enfield and make all meals at Council events vegetarian or vegan and include school meals in its calculations of its CO2 emissions and biodiversity impacts, and measure the CO2 emissions involved in construction and require that they be offset by developers?
Thank you very much for your questions Nick. I think the point you are making is about behaviour change and how that affects the global impacts of climate change and in particular our food choices.
You ask if we would make meals vegetarian or vegan. I am very happy to confirm that, with the exception of meals at the Assembly Hall which you will appreciate is a very different section of the council, we will do that. We have to make the exception as the Assembly Hall is used by different people for different events, weddings parties and so on, and they provide their own refreshments.
You also ask the question about school meals. Schools decide what they wish to serve, but we do work with schools to reduce their carbon emissions and what we can say is that, for school meals prepared within Islington, we will be accounting for the emissions in the calculations we make about our targets.
You ask about sustainable development and building materials. We have an ambitious draft local plan that includes information on reducing emissions and encouraging more sustainable development. In addition to requiring all major new developments are net zero carbon, to fully capture a development’s carbon impact we will also require such proposals to calculate and reduce whole life-cycle carbon emissions. This captures not only a building’s operational emissions from energy consumption, but also captures its embodied emissions (such as those associated with raw material extraction, manufacture and transport of building materials, and construction) and emissions associated with maintenance and eventual material disposal.
We also have new policy developments to adopt a circular economy approach to design and construction to keep materials in use for as long as possible, minimise the environmental impact of the materials used, require a ... view the full minutes text for item 120.
Question (a) from Cllr Convery to Cllr Watts, Leader of the Council:
What is the purpose of the Council's Twitter account? Whilst it is self-evidently an "outbound" communication channel from the Council to the public, is it also an "inbound" channel for our residents to speak to the Council?
Thank you for your question. It is both, inbound and outbound. The outbound speaks for itself, sending key messages, promoting events, promoting services and relaying important information on behalf of others such as the emergency services. As an inbound service, we answer questions, take complaints about services, and those elements of the service are handled by Contact Islington. We try as far as possible to refer people back to the relevant service. I can talk to you offline if there are elements of this you’d like to see changed. I think two-way communication is really important and even on this pandemic we’ve carried that on through virtual Leader’s Question Time sessions on Facebook Live, many wards have had online Ward Partnership meetings, virtual council meetings like this too. It is important that we carry that on at all times.
Question (b) from Cllr Poyser to Cllr Shaikh, Executive Member for Inclusive Economy and Jobs:
I would like to thank the Heritage Team for finding the 'Upon Reflection' sculpture, thought to be lost, in the basement of the Town Hall, and Cllr Shaikh, for organising meetings, despite lockdown, of all the many interested parties, including our local MP, to get the sculpture 'resurrected' in our local Peace Park, part of Elthorne Park, N19. I would also like thank Parks and Heritage for getting a quote to resurrect the statue in a way that makes it less likely to be stolen for a third time.
Hillrise has far, far lower S106 funds than most Wards but, for our part, the local councillors are happy to put money aside for 'resurrecting' this sculpture as it helps our Philip Noel-Baker Peace Park maintain its atmosphere as a place for meditation and reflection - particularly on Peace.
When can we expect the sculpture back in its rightful place, at the end of the fountains, rather than lurking, unloved, in the basement of Town Hall? Thanks to all concerned, particularly our MP Jeremy Corbyn who was present when the statue was unveiled in the 1980s.
Thank you. I’d like to commend you for your excellent work on the missing Peace Statute and for your tenacity and perseverance in making sure we move forward positively to return the statute to its rightful place in the Peace Garden.
The garden was opened in 1984 and is dedicated to peace in the memory of Philip Noel-Baker who was a British politician, a campaigner for nuclear disarmament, and Nobel Peace Prize winner. Five cherry trees were planted in the garden in memory of the 1945 atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The endeavour to replace the statute has been a whole council and community effort and I want to ... view the full minutes text for item 121.
Councillor Gill moved the recommendations in the report. Councillor Watts seconded. Councillor Russell contributed to the debate. Councillor Gill exercised his right of reply.
The recommendations in the report were put to the vote and CARRIED.
That the Council Tax Support Scheme for 2021/22, as contained in
Appendix A to the report, be adopted.
That the Council is retaining a cap of 8.5% for council tax support
– despite unprecedented central government funding cuts both
for this scheme and for the council generally – as part of
our ongoing commitment to provide support throughout the different
stages of residents’ lives, where it is needed (paragraphs
5.8 to 5.12 of the report), be noted.
(iii) That the amendments to council tax agreed at full Council on 5 December 2019 be retained. To be clear, this means that, from 1 April 2021, the following will continue to apply:
1) council tax exemption classes A (unoccupied and unfurnished property that requires or is undergoing major repairs) and C (unoccupied and unfurnished property) will have a discount of 0% for all cases;
2) council tax discount for second homes will be 0% in all cases;
3) council tax discount for empty furnished lets will be 0% in all cases; and
4) a premium will be charged at the maximum percentage allowed of 100% on the council tax of all properties that have remained empty for over 2 years in all cases.
The Mayor advised that the Chief Whip’s Report had been circulated in the second despatch of papers.
Councillor Hyde moved the recommendations in the report. Councillor Khurana seconded.
The recommendations in the report were put to the vote and CARRIED.
(i) That Jim Beale be appointed to the Health and Wellbeing Board for the remainder of the municipal year or until a successor is appointed.
That Jonathan O’Sullivan be
appointed to the Health and Wellbeing Board for the remainder of
the municipal year or until a successor is appointed.
That Cllr Williamson be appointed to
the Grievance Committee for the remainder of
the municipal year or until a successor is appointed.
(iv) That Cllr Ngongo be appointed as Equalities Champion for the remainder of the municipal year or until a successor is appointed.
(v) That Cllr Poyser be appointed as Arts Champion for the remainder of the municipal year or until a successor is appointed.
Where a motion concerns an executive function, nothing passed can be actioned until approved by the Executive or an officer with the relevant delegated power.
Motion 1 – Universal Basic Income
Motion 2 – Making Misogyny a Hate Crime
Motion 3 – Reducing School Exclusions
Motion 4 – Opposing the Government’s Planning Reforms
Motion 5 – Motion in support of Islington Council’s Low Traffic Neighbourhoods
Motion 1: Universal Basic Income
The Mayor advised that a proposed amendment had been circulated in the second despatch of papers.
Councillor Russell moved the motion. Councillor Watts moved the amendment. Councillor Russell exercised her right of reply.
The amendment was put to the vote and CARRIED.
The motion as amended was put to the vote and CARRIED.
i. To write to the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions and the Chancellor of the Exchequer calling for a fully evaluated and fully-funded trial of basic income in our borough, as a result of the effects of the Covid pandemic
ii. To lobby Government for research and possible investment into a programme of Universal Basic Services for local people, including housing, transport, childcare and adult social care;
iii. To continue rolling out the Council’s joint campaign with the TUC encouraging local people to join a union, as to increase their bargaining power at work and secure better pay and conditions;
To call for increased research and
analysis of the effects of UBI on wages, union membership and
bargaining power, and protected characteristics;
v. To work with other local authorities to help test UBI in London;
vi. To lobby Central Government to maintain the £20 per week uplift in Universal Credit that many local people rely on.
Motion 2: Making misogyny a hate crime
Councillor Clarke-Perry moved the motion. Councillor Williamson seconded. Councillors Russell and Woodbyrne contributed to the debate.
The motion was put to the vote and CARRIED.
To make a
submission to the Law Commission’s Consultation at the
earliest opportunity in favour of strengthening hate crime
legislation and making misogyny a hate crime;
To call on
the Government to listen to the lived experience of women and girls
across our country and to urgently act on any recommendations the
commission makes to strengthen the law on hate crime, and to reform
legislation around harassment to recognise as hate crime that which
targets women and girls in their community;
To call on
the Government to provide the resource and funding for police
forces across the UK to effectively tackle harassment, misogyny and
iv. To call on the police force in Islington to record harassment of women as a hate crime, following successful trials in Nottingham and elsewhere.
Motion 3: Reducing School Exclusions
Councillor Comer-Schwartz moved the motion. Councillor Cutler seconded. Councillors Russell and Hull contributed to the debate.
The motions was put to the vote and CARRIED.
i. To campaign for education policy development in support of:
o More funding for schools, to adequately address the needs of all children;
o The promotion of approaches to behaviour management that are trauma informed, humane and respect the rights of the child;
o The overhaul of official exclusion practice and outlaw unofficial practice (known as Off Rolling);
being used only as a very last resort, if all else fails;
ii. To work with local schools on approaches to behaviour management that ... view the full minutes text for item 124.