Greenwich Council

Agenda, decisions and minutes

Venue: Council Chamber - Town Hall, Wellington Street, Woolwich SE18 6PW

Contact: Jean Riddler  Email: jean.riddler@royalgreenwich.gov.uk or tel: 020 8921 5857

Webcast: View the webcast

Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies for absence

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received for CouncillorsNuala Geary, Mehboob Khan, Paul Morrissey, Cherry Parker and Miranda Williams.

 

Apologies for leaving early were received from Councillors Bill Freeman and Gary Parker.

2.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 334 KB

To agree the Minutes of the Council Meeting held on 16 December 2015.

 

No motion or discussion may take place upon the Minutes except as to their accuracy, and any question on this point will be determined by a majority of the Members of the body attending who were present when the matter in question was decided.  Once confirmed, with or without amendment, the person presiding will sign the Minutes.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Resolved –

 

That the Minutes of the meeting of Full Council held on 16 December 2016 be confirmed and signed as a true and accurate record.

3.

Mayor's Announcements pdf icon PDF 1 MB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Mayor was pleased to announce that six residents of the Borough, or people with a close relationship with Royal Greenwich, had been awarded honours in Her Majesty the Queen’s 2016 New Year’s Honours and that he had written to recipients to pass on the Council’s congratulations on the awards.  The Council was reminded that the following had been awarded Honours in the 2016 New Year List:

 

    Jack Petchy received a Knighthood for services to young people in South and East London and Essex

    Matthew Bourne received a Knighthood for services to dance.

    Edith ‘Dot’ Ray received a MBE for services to education.  

    Bradley Hemmings, Director of the Greenwich and Docklands International Festival, received a MBE, for services to culture and disability arts, particularly in London.

    Gurdev Singh Rayat was awarded the British Empire Medal for services to the community in Greenwich

    Ronke Oke was awarded the British Empire Medal for services business and charity respectively.

 

The Mayor announced that the Leader of the Council had written to the President of France expressing the Authority’s solidarity with the people of Paris and France following the recent terrorist attack and the motion agreed bby Council.  The Mayor informed the meeting that a response had been received from the President’s Office and this was read out to the Council (n.b. The letter and response are attached as appendix A to these minutes).

 

The Mayor informed the Chamber that Councillor Clare would be completing the snowflake swim for Demelza and would be circulating an online sponsorship link should any Member wish to sponsor him.

 

It was with deep regret that that the Mayor inform the Council of the tragic death of Mandie Coppen, an Attendance Officer at Ealdham School who was killed on her way to work when she was hit by a bus at John Harrison Way on the Peninsula.  He was also saddened to announce the death of Mrs Tirth Kaur Flora, a well-known community worker, who gave dedicated service in the local community and the Borough.  He advised that he had written letters of condolences to Ms Coppen’s and Mrs Flora’s families.

 

He asked the Chamber to note that he had agreed that a member of the public, Mrs Eileen Glover, may address the Council on the motion at item 15 on the agenda. 

4.

Declarations of Interest pdf icon PDF 35 KB

Members to declare any personal and financial interests in items on the agenda.  Attention is drawn to the Council’s Constitution; the Council’s Code of Conduct and associated advice.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillors Clare, Elliott, Adams, Hyland, R James, S James, Mardner, Merrill, Morris and J Smith declared a financial interest in relation to Item 11 – Council Tax Base 2016/17 as owners of a second property within the borough.  Councillors Clare, Elliott, Adams, Hyland, R James, S James, Mardner, Merrill, Morris and J Smith left the Chamber prior to the consideration of this item.

 

Councillors Babatola, Cornforth, Hisbani, Morris, Merrill and Walker made financial declarations in relation to Item 14 – Motion rejecting the Trade Union Bill, as holding senior positions within a Union or had received financial contributions from a union in relation to their election expenses.  Councillors Babatola, Cornforth, Hisbani, Morris, Merrill and Walker left the Chamber prior to the consideration of this item.

 

Resolved –

 

1.    That the list of Councillors’ memberships as Council appointed representatives on outside bodies, joint committees and school Governing Bodies be noted.

 

2.    That the Councillors’ declarations be noted.

 

5.

Notice of Members wishing to exceed the 5 minute rule

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Council noted that there had been no requests to exceed the five minute rule.

 

6.

Petitions

Presentation to the Council of petitions for consideration.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The following petition was presented at the meeting;

 

Subject and Number of Signatures

Presenting Councillor

Lead Department

To protect access for dog walkers on Hervey Road Sports Field.

101 signatures

Councillor

Norman Adams

Director of Community Services

 

7.

Public Deputations on matters not otherwise on the agenda

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Council noted that there had been no requests for public deputations.

 

8.

Public Questions pdf icon PDF 94 KB

Up to half an hour will be allowed for questions by Members of the Public.

 

Questions will be taken in the order notices are received by the Chief Executive.  Each question to have no more than one part.  No member of the public shall ask more than 2 questions at a meeting.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Mayor advised the meeting that notice had been received of twelve written questions by members of the public.  The questions and replies, together with the supplementary submissions made during the meeting are attached as Appendix B to these minutes.

9.

Questions from Members pdf icon PDF 128 KB

a.      To receive written responses to questions submitted by Members in line with procedure Rule A1.38

b.      Up to 10 minutes will be allowed for Members questions.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Mayor advised the meeting that notice had been received of twenty seven written questions. The questions and replies, together with the supplementary questions made during the meeting, are attached as Appendix C to these minutes.

 

Under procedures for oral question, the Mayor invited questions to Members of the Cabinet for response.

 

In response to a question from Councillor Brighty, as to what was the cost to the Council to remove the water feature in Cutty Sark Gardens, Councillor Thorpe, Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Transport advised that the Council had made significant improvements to the Greenwich Maritime World Heritage Site and that the current work was to resolve the issue of the broken water feature.

 

Councillor Clare raised concerns regarding  the poor condition of the changing rooms at the Waterfront Leisure Centre.  Councillor Scott-McDonald, Cabinet Member for Culture, Creative Industries & Community Wellbeing confirmed that a new leisure centre for Woolwich was being developed.  However, with regard to the current Waterfront Leisure Centre Councillor Scott-McDonald expressed her concern as to the possible condition of the facilities and stated that she would be happy to meet with Councillor Clare, on site to look at the issue further.

 

In response to a question from Councillor Drury, as to whether the Serverndroog Castle Preservation Trust would be eligible for support, including financial, from the Council, Councillor Scott-McDonald, Cabinet Member for Culture, Creative Industries & Community Wellbeing advised she would ask officers to look into the possibilities open to them to assist.

 

Councillor Davies welcomed the proposed developments for Eltham High Street and asked when they would be going out for consultation. Councillor Thorpe, Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Transport responded that the proposals had been developed in consultation with local groups and traders but a wider consultation process would be carried out in due course.

10.

Matters for early debate

Up to 3 items of business may be prioritised for consideration under this section.  Each political party may select an item of business, from the list of items on the agenda, for early debate. 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Mayor advised that no requests from the party whips for matters to be taken early had been received. However, as members of the public had requested to speak on Item 12 – Petition Response report, this would be taken as the first item of business.

 

11.

Council Tax Base 2016/17 pdf icon PDF 50 KB

Additional documents:

Decision:

Agreed a council tax base for the whole authority area for 2016/17 of £74,337.74.

Agreed an additional council tax base for the Gloucester Circus Garden Square area of the authority for 2016/17 of £91.90.

Agreeda continuance in 2016/17 of the Council Tax discount of 0% on Class A & Class B dwellings (second homes) and Class C & D dwellings (empty homes).

Agreed a continuance in 2016/17 of the Long Term Empty Premium of 50%.

Agreed a continuance in 2016/17 of the Local Council Tax Support Scheme.

Noted that the council tax base relevant to the Southern Region of the Environment Agency for flood defence levy apportionment purposes in 2016/17 is £5,090.78.

Noted that the council tax base relevant to the Thames Region of the Environment Agency for flood defence levy apportionment purposes in 2016/17 is £69,246.96.

 

Minutes:

Councillors Clare, Elliott, Adams, Hyland, R James, S James, Mardner, Merrill, Morris and J Smith declared a financial interest in relation to Item 11 – Council Tax Base 2016/17 as owners of a second property within the borough.  Councillors Clare, Elliott, Adams, Hyland, R James, S James, Mardner, Merrill, Morris and J Smith left the Chamber prior to the consideration of this item.

 

The Deputy Mayor, Councillor Babatola, took the Chair for this item.

 

Councillor Fahy introduced the report, advising that this was a technical report, required by legislation to establish the foundations for the proposals for the 2016/17 Council Tax rates and that a further report, setting out the final budget proposals, would be presented to the next meeting of the Council.

 

The Mayor called for a recorded vote on the recommendations and it was

 

Resolved unanimously -

 

1.    That a council tax base for the whole authority area for 2016/17 of £74,337.74 be agreed.

 

2.    That an additional council tax base for the Gloucester Circus Garden Square area of the authority for 2016/17 of £91.90 be agreed.

 

3.    That a continuance in 2016/17 of the Council Tax discount of 0% on Class A & Class B dwellings (second homes) and Class C & D dwellings (empty homes) be agreed.

 

4.    That a continuance in 2016/17 of the Long Term Empty Premium of 50% be agreed.

 

5.    That a continuance in 2016/17 of the Local Council Tax Support Scheme be agreed.

 

6.    That the council tax base relevant to the Southern Region of the Environment Agency for flood defence levy apportionment purposes in 2016/17 is £5,090.78 be noted.

 

7.    That the council tax base relevant to the Thames Region of the Environment Agency for flood defence levy apportionment purposes in 2016/17 is £69,246.96 be noted.

12.

Petitions Response Report pdf icon PDF 91 KB

Additional documents:

Decision:

Noted the action taken in response to petitions presented at recent meetings of the Council.

 

Minutes:

In respect of the petition response presented at paragraph 2 – Parking issues in Erebus Drive, the Council was addressed by the lead petitioner who questioned why the residents would have to wait until 2018 and the opening of Crossrail for action to be taken as the parking issues were intolerable now.  She stated that it was believed that if restricted hours were brought in now this would result in a reduction of between 60 & 80 commuter vehicles using the area.

 

Councillor Thorpe, Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Transport responded that the Council had a parking strategy in place which had received support from the majority of the Borough’s residents.  However, the situation with regard to the problems experienced by the residents of Erebus Drive would be kept under review.

 

Councillor Brooks commented that he was aware of the significant problems and that a solution should be brought forward as soon as possible.  Councillor Brooks stated that he would be happy to meet with residents and the Cabinet Member, possibly on site, to discuss further.

 

With regards to the petition response set out at paragraph 4, supporting the proposed skatepark in Charlton Park, Councillor McCarthy thanked officers for the response and noted that the proposals were not without controversy.

 

Resolved –

 

That the action taken in response to petitions presented at recent meetings of the Council be noted.

13.

Freedom of the Royal Borough of Greenwich pdf icon PDF 38 KB

Additional documents:

Decision:

Agreed to hold special meeting of the Council on a date to be agreed to award the Freedom of the Borough to Janet Gillman; Jim Gillman; Dermot Poston MBE; Tariq Abbasi MBE and Chris Roberts.

Minutes:

Councillor Drury stated that he was happy to support the recommendation to award the Freedom of the Borough to the individuals listed at paragraph 1.1. Councillor Drury commented that each of the identified recipients were appropriate individuals to receive the Borough’s highest honour in light of the service they had provided to the Council, the local community and the residents of the Borough.

 

Councillor Hyland seconded the proposals stating that the five named recipients were all worthy candidates for receipt of the highest award that the Council could bestow.  She highlighted the work Mr Abbasi MBE in relation to the PREVENT agenda, fighting radicalisation and his bravery at challenging individuals promoting religious radicalism. 

 

Resolved unanimously –

 

That it be agreed to hold special meeting of the Council on a date to be agreed to award the Freedom of the Borough to:

 

·                    Janet Gillman

·                    Jim Gillman

·                    Dermot Poston MBE

·                    Tariq Abbasi MBE

·                     Chris Roberts

14.

Motion: Rejection of the Trade Union Bill pdf icon PDF 26 KB

Additional documents:

Decision:

Resolved that this Council recognises the positive contribution that trade unions and trade union members make in our workplaces. That this Council values the constructive relationship that we have with our trade unions and we recognise their commitment, and the commitment of all our staff, to the delivery of good quality public services.

 

That this Council noted with concern the Trade Union Bill which is currently being proposed by the Government and which would affect this Council’s relationship with our trade unions and our workforce as a whole. That this Council rejects this Bill’s attack on local democracy and the attack on our right to manage our own affairs.

 

That this Council is clear that facility time, negotiated and agreed by us and our trade unions to suit our own specific needs, has a valuable role to play in the creation of good quality and responsive local services and that this Council believes that facility time should not be determined or controlled by Central Government.

 

That this Council notes, with concern, government proposals to ban arrangements we currently have in place for deducting trade union membership subscriptions through our payroll. That Council believes that this is as an important part of our positive industrial relations and a cheap and easy to administer system that supports our staff. That Council further believes this is an administrative matter and should not be interfered with by Whitehall.

 

That this Council resolves to support the campaign against the unnecessary, anti-democratic and bureaucratic Trade Union Bill.

Minutes:

Councillors Babatola, Cornforth, Hisbani, Morris, Merrill and Walker made financial declarations in relation to Item 14 – Motion rejecting the Trade Union Bill, as holding senior positions within a Union or had received financial contributions from a union in relation to their election expenses.  Councillors Babatola, Cornforth, Hisbani, Morris, Merrill and Walker left the Chamber prior to the consideration of this item.

 

In moving the motion Councillor Kirby commented that the Council has an excellent working relationship with the Trade Unions and that the Government’s Bill would be very destructive to the established benefits of this relationship for the staff and the employers.   He continued that there were no financial reasons for the removal of the ability of members to have their Union subscriptions paid at source and the proposals appeared to try and drive down membership.   Facility time, allowing staff to take authorised time off from their main duty to support Union work, was an extremely valuable service to the Council, allowing for collective consultation and preventing problems from accelerating.  Councillor Kirby stated that the ability of Union members being allowed facility time to represent staff also saved the Council financially in terms of legal fees relating to employment tribunals and much more.  In conclusion it was stated that the Bill was an unprecedented attack on services and there was no need for Central Government to change the current good working relationship. 

 

Councillor Austen seconded the motion and felt that the Bill contradicted the ideals of supporting decent hard working people.  He believed that the Bill would undermine the constructive relationship with employers and would limit, or destroy, the ability for constructive discussions with employers; the  right to strike; protection for ageing workers; and addressing health and safety concerns.  Councillor Austen continued that there was a robust and healthy relationship in Greenwich, based upon mutual respect between the Authority and Unions which he was sure that residents would not want destroyed.  He concluded that the Unions had fought to ensure that employees could work in a safe and healthy environment and these were rights that were being eroded away. 

 

Councillors Hartley and Clare spoke against the proposed motion and noted the positive contribution made by trade unions in the Borough and the benefits that they brought to their members and the importance of constructive dialogue for all parties.  However, that the role of the Trade Unions in Greenwich was a political one of opposition to many of the proposed changes required, such as the mobile library service.  Further that good management was the key to the reduction of disputes and employee tribunals.  Councillors Hartley and Clare stated that the motion misrepresented the Trade Union Bill which was proposed to re-balance areas of relationship between Unions and employers.  It was stated that the Trade Union Bill did not remove the right to strike but it did address concerns at the cost of paid Facility Time to tax payers, particularly as they were also being paid for their substantive post, which  ...  view the full minutes text for item 14.

15.

Motion: Greenwich Time legal action and any future quarterly newsletters pdf icon PDF 31 KB

Additional documents:

Decision:

Resolved that Council expresses its approval of the agreement between the Government and the Royal Borough with regard to Greenwich Time, which allows the Council to publish electronically or on paper regular and frequent information to our residents, provided it does not resemble a ‘newspaper, newssheet or similar communication’. That Council notes that following legislation which amended the Recommended Code of Practice on Local Authority Publicity 2011, the Council successfully made the case to the Government that Councils must be able to communicate regularly to their residents. That Council further notes that implicitly this means that the Government has accepted the Council’s case that the independent press is not in a position to deliver to every household in the borough. That Council believes there has never been a more important time for Local Authorities to communicate with their residents than now, as there is growing demand on our host of services.

 

That Council recognises the contribution of members of the public and groups which supported the Council’s stance in its negotiations with Government and wishes to thank them publicly.

 

That Council acknowledges the cost of taking this action is far out-weighed by the savings, estimated to be £234,000, if an alternative to Greenwich Time had been produced and our statutory notices had been placed in a local newspaper over the 15 month period.

 

Finally, that Council notes both the Government and the Royal Borough agreed to pay their own costs.

Minutes:

The Mayor advised the Chamber that he had agreed to a request from a member of the public, Eileen Glover, to speak on this matter and that a written amendment had been circulated in advance of the meeting.

 

Councillor Hartley moved the motion as below:

 

Council expresses its disapproval, in the strongest possible terms, of the Leader’s decision to launch legal action against the government as part of its failed attempt to retain Greenwich Time in its current non-compliant form, at a cost to the council taxpayer of £48,243 (as at November 2015). 

Council calls on the Leader to publicly apologise to council taxpayers for this waste of public money.

 

Council welcomes the significant savings to the public purse that the abolition of Greenwich Time will bring at a time of financial constraint, with almost £3million of taxpayers’ money, net of advertising income, having been spent on producing the paper between 2010 and 2014.

 

Council notes that the administration’s decision to abandon its legal action and fully comply with the local authority Publicity Code limits the council to producing a maximum of four newspaper-like communications to all residents each year.  Council calls on the Leader to commit the administration to a guarantee that any such future newsletter that may be introduced;

 

a)     fully complies with all aspects of the Publicity Code, including the criteria of objectivity and even-handedness that Greenwich Time has been determined to have failed

 

b)    is published at regular set times throughout the year, and not on an ad-hoc basis at the administration's discretion

 

c)    is never published fewer than three months in advance of any Council, Mayoral/GLA, European or General Election polling day

 

d)    is produced at the minimum possible cost to the taxpayer

 

e)    is free from any content that promotes one political party’s agenda or electoral prospects over any other

 

To ensure that these conditions are met, Council calls on the Leader to establish an editorial board, in the event a quarterly newsletter is introduced, that;

 

a)     is chaired by an (unpaid) independent person appointed annually, in mutual agreement between the Leaders of all political Groups on the Council, by Full Council

 

b)     includes an equal number of representatives of all political Groups on the Council

 

c)     approves each edition of any future newsletter by simple majority vote, so that no edition is published without the editorial board affirming that the above five tests are satisfied

 

Council further notes the positive impact that the end of Greenwich Time in its weekly form will have on the borough’s genuine local media outlets, and calls on the administration to encourage existing Greenwich Time advertisers to consider advertising in the Mercury, News Shopper, SEnine, Greenwich Visitor, Westcombe News or other independent publications instead. 

 

In moving the Motion Councillor Hartley stated felt that it was deeply regrettable that the current situation had been allowed to arise and that more that £80,000 of Council Tax payers’ money had been used to defend the continued publication of the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 15.