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Agenda and minutes

Venue: Council Chamber, Town Hall, Upper Street, N1 2UD. View directions


No. Item


Apologies for Absence

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Apologies were received from Councillor Graham, Nargund and Nathan.


Declaration of Substitute Members

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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.


*(a) Employment, etc - Any employment, office, trade, profession or vocation
  carried on for profit or gain.

(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  

(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.




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Minutes of the previous meeting pdf icon PDF 233 KB

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Further to Minute 56, a member noted that a representative of Cally Energy had attended an informal working group of the Environment and Regeneration Scrutiny Committee, to discuss how the council can work with such organisations to help to achieve its net zero carbon targets.




That the minutes of the previous meeting held on 5 December 2022 be agreed as a correct record and the Chair be authorised to sign them.


Chair's Report

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The Chair advised that the food projects invited to provide witness evidence under Agenda Item 11 were not able to attend, and this would be rescheduled for a future meeting.


The Chair invited members to consider the Scrutiny Response Tracker document circulated in the second despatch of papers.


A member noted point 19 in the Scrutiny Response Tracker, which advised ‘it had been agreed not to continue with the detailed sickness and agency reports but to cover any key points as part of the quarterly Use of Resources performance report where the data is published.’ The member commented that this was not an accurate summary of the committee’s position and the committee had not taken a decision on this matter. The Chair advised that a meeting would be sought with officers to discuss the outstanding HR issues, and the officers present confirmed agreement with this approach.  


A member noted point 24, on the development of equalities-related performance measures, that an update was not yet available. The Chair advised that once an update was available it would be circulated to members of the committee.


In relation to point 21, previously agreed savings now considered undeliverable, the Chair advised that she had received a further update from officers earlier that day, however there were some outstanding questions that the Chair wished to discuss on this point.


In relation to point 11, the processing time for voids, it was advised that this was being progressed by the Housing Scrutiny Committee. 


In relation to point 21, the previously agreed savings now considered undeliverable, the Chair noted that a summary document was appended to the tracker, however had asked officers for a more detailed summary of why savings were no longer considered deliverable, and had asked for details for the past six financial years.  




Public Questions

For members of the public to ask questions relating to any subject on the meeting agenda under Procedure Rule 70.5. Alternatively, the Chair may opt to accept questions from the public during the discussion on each agenda item.


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External Attendees (if any)

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Presentation from the Borough Commander - Annual Crime and Disorder Report pdf icon PDF 5 MB

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Chief Superintendent Andy Carter, Borough Commander for Islington and Camden, presented to the committee on local crime and policing issues.


Councillor Woolf, Executive Member for Community Safety, was also in attendance for this agenda item.


The presentation included local crime statistics; details of police operations in the key areas of Finsbury Park, The Angel, and Old Street; detail of local stop and search activity; work underway to improve public trust and confidence in the police; work to tackle drug crime; work to address violence against women and girls; and the local response to the Casey Review into the standards of behaviour and internal culture of the Metropolitan Police Service.


The Committee made the following main comments:


·        Referring to a comment made in the presentation, a member asked if the local police had an effective grip on performance and strategic oversight. In response, the Borough Commander commented that a new performance framework was being implemented that would allow better monitoring of progress against targets and priorities. The Metropolitan Police had focused on reducing violence over recent years and this had resulted in local reductions in homicide and serious youth violence, however there was now a recognition that the police needed to focus on a broader range of priorities.

·        A member noted that violent crime had reduced nationally and asked if any local actions in Islington had contributed to this decrease. In response, the Borough Commander considered that strong partnership work between local agencies had contributed to the decrease in serious youth violence.

·        A member noted the impact of drug-related crime in the Finsbury Park ward, expressing concern about drug dealers targeting users of a local homeless shelter. It was asked how the police were addressing such issues. It was also suggested that further community engagement through local policing panels would help to build trust in the Metropolitan Police. In response, the Borough Commander emphasised the importance of reporting crime so hotspots can be mapped and police resources can be deployed as required. In relation to neighbourhood policing panels, it was recognised that the panels did not always reflect the diversity of local communities, and a plan was being developed to increase representation on such panels.

·        A member expressed concern about ‘cuckooing’ and the exploitation of vulnerable people through drug crime, and asked if the police had sufficient intelligence to tackle this problem effectively. In response, the Borough Commander emphasised the importance of reporting such crimes and summarised the work with local housing providers to identify these properties and to take action as required. Councillor Woolf commented on the role of the Cuckooing Panel and the importance of interventions to support vulnerable people.

·        A councillor expressed concerns about school muggings and pupils being targeted outside of schools, noting recent incidents around St Mary Magdalene Academy. It was queried if the Police was deploying resources to address this, and how the council could work better with the police to keep these young people safe and improve confidence in the police. In response, it  ...  view the full minutes text for item 66.


Cost of Living Crisis Scrutiny Review: Witness Evidence pdf icon PDF 221 KB

-        Evidence from the Voluntary and Community Sector

-        Review of Council Tax Support Proposals (report attached)

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Robbie Rainbird, Assistant Director - Community Financial Resilience, and Stephen Biggs, Corporate Director – Community Wealth Building, introduced the report setting out possible future options for the council tax support scheme. The report included different models for increasing the council tax discount to 100% for some groups, and summarised how this would impact on the scheme overall.


A discussion was had on which groups would benefit most from such a scheme, and which groups would receive less support as a result. Such considerations would need to be discussed by members ahead of the budget process for future years.


It was noted that any change to the scheme would be subject to public consultation and could not be implemented until 2024/25.


It was suggested that a banded scheme would be easier to administer and may result in cost savings as a result.


The proposals were still being developed and officers advised that members would be updated as this work progressed.


Scrutiny of Budget Proposals for 2023/24 pdf icon PDF 651 KB

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Councillor Ward introduced the budget proposals and highlighted the impact of the cost-of-living crisis on local residents, and how this year’s budget sought to prioritise help for those most in need. The Budget Proposals included a £1 million hardship fund in addition to the existing resident support scheme. The budget retained free school meals for all primary school children and included additional investment in the Income Maximisation (IMAX) service that helped local people get back into work and training, as well as continuing to support the childcare bursary to support working parents.  


In relation to the council’s housing services, the council was investing £1 million into a new damp and mould action team, and the council was also continuing to invest in fire safety works and retrofitting homes on estates with energy efficiency improvements. Councillor Ward also highlighted the continued investment in the council’s ambitious new build programme.


The budget included a £5.1 million investment to upgrade and expand the borough’s CCTV network, and additional funding was being allocated to the Contact Centre to improve customer service for Islington residents. Councillor Ward also commented on the work to expand the Safe Havens network and the continued investment in services to tackle violence against women and girls.


Councillor Ward commented on how budget would contribute to the council’s net zero carbon programme. The Budget included a £15 million investment over three years to electrify the council’s vehicle fleet. The budget also included provision for the installation of solar panels and other energy-efficiency measures in public buildings.


Councillor Ward reflected on the impact of cost pressures on the council’s budget. The council faced a real-terms funding cut from central government and this year’s budget included £12.4 million in savings. It was proposed to increase council tax by the maximum possible amount; this was the same position taken by 27 other London Boroughs. Councillor Ward also noted that social rents would increase; this was a difficult decision however increased funding was needed to manage the council’s housing stock effectively. It was reiterated that help was available for the residents most in need of support. 


The Committee made the following main comments on the budget proposals:


·        In relation to the £1 million hardship fund, the Committee noted that applications would open before the end of March. It was commented that this was a relatively short period in which to develop a new fund, and it was queried when further information would be available on eligibility criteria. In response, it was advised that officers were working to finalise the scheme and the council was particularly concerned about people who were not in receipt of benefits but would experience a significant increase in rent, either in housing association properties or the private rented sector. Councillor Ward advised that he would provide an update to members of the committee as soon as further information was available.

·        The Committee welcomed that the council was continuing to focus support on those most in need, particularly in the context  ...  view the full minutes text for item 68.


Budget Monitoring Report pdf icon PDF 210 KB

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The report was noted.


A member noted that the report indicated that the parking service was forecast to break even, whereas a previous update to the committee indicated that the service generated a surplus. Officers advised that they would review this further and provide an update to a future meeting.




Monitoring Item pdf icon PDF 492 KB

·        Council Forward Plan

·        Scrutiny Review Tracker

·        Outstanding responses from previous meetings (to follow)

·        Updates from Committee Chairs

·       Work Programme

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On the scrutiny response tracker, a member noted point 26, on how risk management is considered in decision-making processes, the response did not summarise what could change to make the scrutiny of risk more effective, but instead focused on the current arrangements for the oversight and scrutiny of risk through the Audit Committee and scrutiny process. It was requested that the response be reviewed, and the Executive Member for Finance, Planning and Performance agreed to consider this further.