Greenwich Council

Agenda, decisions and minutes

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

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 from Councillors Don Austen,

Christine May, Cherry Parker and Chris Kirby.

 

Councillors Charlie Davis and Ambreen Hisbani gave apologies for leaving early.

 

2.

Minutes

To agree the Minutes of the Council Meeting held on 26 October 2016.

 

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:

Councillor Brighty advised that under Item 6, the petition submitted in relation to speed and noise pollution on Kidbrooke Park Road and Shooters Hill Road should read 419 signatures. 

 

Resolved –

 

That the amended Minutes of the meeting of Full Council held on 26 October 2016 be confirmed and signed as a true and accurate record.

3.

Mayor's Announcements

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Mayor made the following announcements;

 

He asked the Council to welcome Councillor Charlie Davis to his first meeting of the Council following his election at the recent Eltham North By-Election.

 

He was pleased to announce that the Royal Borough of Greenwich apprentice, Mitchell Hayzen, had won the London Councils’ Apprentice Awards award for best progression by an apprentice and invited Councillor Hyland, Leader of the Council, to present to Mitchell.  The Mayor noted that Councillor Hills must be very proud of his grandson’s award.

 

It was with regret that he informed the Council of the recent death of Ewen Whitaker who was a leading NASA scientist who helped identify the landing spot for NASA’s Apollo 12 mission and was born and educated in the Borough.  Ewen attended the John Roan School on a scholarship before being hired as a lab assistant for Siemens Brothers and then worked at the Royal Observatory prior to NASA.

 

It was with sadness that he advised the Council of the death of former Councillor David Richard Coates who was a Councillor from 1971 to 1978, seeing the Borough transform from Woolwich Borough to Greenwich Borough. More recently he served as a Councillor for Swanley Town and Sevenoaks District.

 

Councillor MacCarthy addressed the Chamber stating that he had always found David Coates to be supportive, friendly and attentive.  David had always been passionate about social justice, becoming a trade union shop steward in his 20’s and the youngest General Secretary of the Funeral Trade Union (NUFSO) at just 36.  He continued that David was very physically active with one of his great achievements being, in his late twenties, completing the fleet marathon in a time of 2.43 in plimsolls. David was also the first labour Chairman of Sevenoaks District Council and became the Mayor of Swanley in 2009/2010.

 

The Council joined the Mayor in a minutes silence in respect of Ewen Whitaker and David Coates.

4.

Declarations of Interest pdf icon PDF 64 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:

There were no declarations of interest made.

 

Resolved –

 

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

5.

Notice of Members wishing to exceed the 5 minute rule

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The 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 petitions were presented at the meeting;

 

Subject and Number of Signatures

Presenting Councillor

Lead Department

Road Safety outside of St Thomas More School

215 signatures

Councillor

Nuala Geary

Director of Regeneration, Enterprise and Skills

 

7.

Public Deputations on matters not otherwise on the agenda

Additional documents:

Minutes:

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

8.

Public Questions pdf icon PDF 92 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 9 written questions by members of the public.  The questions and replies, together with the supplementary submissions made during the meeting are attached as Appendix A to these minutes.

9.

Questions from Members pdf icon PDF 137 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 20 written questions. The questions and replies, together with the supplementary questions made during the meeting, are attached as Appendix B to these minutes.

 

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

 

In response to a question from Councillor Merrill, asking what would be the impact to the Royal Borough of Greenwich of the Local Government Financial Settlement not increasing funding for Adult Social Care, Councillor Gardner, the Cabinet Member for Health and Adult Social Care, responded that Adult Social Care in Greenwich was under pressure, despite the valiant efforts of the Department for Adults & Older People Services and partners from the volunteering sector. The Royal Borough of Greenwich required £8million to support Social Care and local health Services through the winter.  That there was speculation that the Statement will just allow Councils to increase Council Tax and it was anticipated that there would be some financial flexibility for Local Authorities in the Statement, which Greenwich would have to carefully consider. 

 

In response to Councillor Hartley’s concern that it appeared that Cabinet Members had not seen or written the responses they present to the Council and asked if the Cabinet Member for Transport, Economy & Transport could explain who wrote the answer to Members Q17 and when he first saw it; Councillor Hyland, Leader of the Council, responded to this oral question stating that she had the final edit on all responses given.

 

In response to a question from Councillor Hartley that consideration be given to assigning the two default non-payment months, for those who paid their Council tax by Direct Debit, to August and December, where the additional cost of Christmas or school holidays hit many low income households; Councillor Hyland, Leader of the Council, confirmed that she would need to discuss the feasibility, given officers’ workloads and practicalities of implementation with the Director of Finance.  She added that anything that could be done to support anti-poverty of our residents would be pursued.

 

Councillor James thanked the Leader of the Council for her prompt response to the recent severe flood in Meadowcourt Road and Lea Road and that the thanks of the Ward Members be passed to officers for their prompt response in providing an emergency reaction to this incident.

 

Councillor Hyland, Leader of the Council, thanked fellow Councillors for their assistance in ensuring the emergency services responded quickly; that gullys were cleared; the road swept and that no vulnerable people who were isolated or distressed due to the situation were unattended.  She confirmed that officers would be asked to look at the feasibility of offering business rate or Council Tax rebates.    She noted that when there was any emergency like that a compliment had to be paid to all of the people involved in resolving it as they act very quickly, very effectively and with the minimum of fuss.

 

In response to Councillor Drury’s concern that the Greenwich free school  ...  view the full minutes text for item 9.

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.

11.

Annual Audit Letter pdf icon PDF 48 KB

Additional documents:

Decision:

Noted that the Audit and Risk Management Panel considered this item on 30 November 2016 without comment.

 

Agreed an amendment to page 10 of The Annual Audit Letter under Table 2: value for money risks (Findings and conclusions), second paragraph to read;

‘Despite overspend in the last three years the Council has taken sufficiently robust action to address these challenges’

 

Noted the amended 2015/16 Annual Audit Letter (Appendix 1).

 

Minutes:

The Council was addressed by Paul Dossett, the appointed independent auditor, who advised that he had issued an Unqualified Opinion on both the Council’s Accounts and Pension and an Unqualified Opinion on Value for Money.  He advised that there was a typographical error to page 10 of The Annual Audit Letter under Table 2: value for money risks (Findings and conclusions), second paragraph which should read;

‘Despite overspend in the last three years the Council has taken sufficiently robust action to address these challenges’

 

Mr Dossett congratulated the Council on submitting the accounts in a timely manner, enabling an Opinion to be issued by the end of July which matched the National Audit timetable that would come into force in 2017.  He thanked the Council Officers for their support in the audit process.

 

Councillor Drury sought clarification as to the process for checking the Annual Audit Letter and assurance of accuracy of the information. 

 

Mr Dossett assured him that the Council had taken sufficiently robust action to face the potential financial challenges it may face.  He also advised that documents were checked before publication and apologised for the oversight on this occasion.

 

Councillor Hyland, Leader of the Council, felt that it was a positive Audit Letter which reflected well on the excellent work of the Council and its officers.  She thanked the Members of the Audit & Risk Management Panel Meeting; Director of Finance and her team, and Mr Dossett and his team at Grant Thorton.

 

The Leader of the Council proposed and Councillor Drury seconded that the report be formally amended to correct the typographical error to page 10 of The Annual Audit Letter.

 

The Mayor put the proposal to Council, which was agreed.

 

Resolved -

 

1.      That it be noted that the Audit and Risk Management Panel considered this item on 30 November 2016 without comment.

 

2.     That an amendment be agreed to page 10 of The Annual Audit Letter under Table 2: value for money risks (Findings and conclusions), second paragraph to read;

‘Despite overspend in the last three years the Council has taken sufficiently robust action to address these challenges’

 

3.     That the amended 2015/16 Annual Audit Letter, set out at appendix 1 of the report, be noted.

12.

2016/17 Treasury Management Mid-Year Report pdf icon PDF 135 KB

Additional documents:

Decision:

Agreed the Treasury Management Mid-Year Report for 2016/17.

Minutes:

Councillor Hyland, Leader of the Council, spoke to the report advising that this was a technical report which Council was required to consider and that the Council’s approach to borrowing remained the same as previous years.

 

Councillor Hartley expressed that, following the outcome of the EU referendum, it would be wise to consider a range of financial indicators and not just the perceived wisdom based on what has happened before.

 

Resolved -

 

That the Treasury Management Mid-Year Report for 2016/17 be agreed.

13.

Arrangements for the Appointment of External Auditors pdf icon PDF 82 KB

Additional documents:

Decision:

Noted that this matter was considered by the Audit and Risk Management Panel on 30 November 2016 and noted the recommendation that Council agree option 3.

 

Agreed that the external auditor for the Council and Pension Fund statement of accounts for periods commencing 2018/19, should be appointed by Public Sector Audit Appointments Limited.

 

Minutes:

Councillor Hyland, Leader of the Council, advised that following the abolition of the Audit Council the Council had to consider which of three options available it would adopt.  That the matter had been considered by the Audit and Risk Management Panel, which had recommended that the Council adopt option 3; that the Council’s and Pension Fund’s auditors are appointed by Public Sector Audit Appointments Limited and commended this recommendation to the Chamber.

 

Resolved unanimously -

 

1.     Noted that this matter was considered by the Audit and Risk Management Panel on 30 November 2016 and noted the recommendation that Council agree option 3.

 

2.     That it be agreed that the external auditor for the Council and Pension Fund statement of accounts for periods commencing 2018/19, should be appointed by Public Sector Audit Appointments Limited.

14.

Freedom of the Borough and Appointment of Aldermen / Alderwomen - Criteria and Procedure pdf icon PDF 65 KB

Additional documents:

Decision:

Agreed the criteria for appointing Honorary Freemen / Freewomen (Freedom of the Borough) and Honorary Aldermen / Alderwomen as set out in paragraph 3.2 of the report.

 

Agreed the procedure for appointing Honorary Freemen / Freewomen (Freedom of the Borough) and appointing Honorary Aldermen / Alderwomen as detailed in paragraphs 3.3 to 3.6 of the report.

 

Minutes:

Resolved unanimously –

 

1.     That the criteria for appointing Honorary Freemen / Freewomen (Freedom of the Borough) and Honorary Aldermen / Alderwomen as set out in paragraph 3.2 of the report be agreed.

 

2.     That the procedure for appointing Honorary Freemen / Freewomen (Freedom of the Borough) and appointing Honorary Aldermen / Alderwomen as detailed in paragraphs 3.3 to 3.6 of the report be agreed.

 

15.

Changes to the Executive Functions Scheme of Delegation pdf icon PDF 54 KB

Additional documents:

Decision:

Noted the change made to the executive functions scheme of delegation.

Minutes:

Resolved -

 

That the change made to the executive functions scheme of delegation be noted

16.

Motion relating the Woolwich Barracks pdf icon PDF 55 KB

Additional documents:

Decision:

Resolved that this Council opposes the closure of Woolwich Barracks in 2028, announced in the Ministry of Defence's 'A Better Defence Estate' Strategy on 7th November 2016.

 

That the Grade II* listed Barracks have been at the heart of Woolwich since their completion in 1802, and have been a core part of our community's links with the Armed Forces that go back over three centuries.

 

That this Council calls on the Ministry of Defence, across political party lines, to reconsider this element of its plans and ensure the continued use of the Woolwich Barracks as part of the Armed Forces estate. 

 

That this Council further commits to pro-actively engage with the Ministry of Defence and relevant stakeholders to secure a reversal of this decision and keep the Armed Forces in Woolwich.

 

That this Council also believes of paramount importance is the protection of the site's heritage, including the Grade II* listed building itself, the Afghan and Zulu Wars Memorial, the Ha-Ha, Mallet's Mortar, the Rotunda and St George's Garrison Church.

 

Furthermore, that Council agrees to join with other stakeholders, such as Members of Parliament, community groups and other local organisations, to orchestrate a cross-party, community campaign to 'Keep the Army in Woolwich'. This campaign will be in honour of the service personnel who have been stationed here, for our residents and businesses and for future generations to enjoy the relationship that we are so proud of.

Minutes:

The Mayor advised that the following Councillorshad indicated their support for this motion since the agenda was published: Don Austen; Stephen Brain; John Fahy, Christine Grice; Mehboob Khan, Christine May, Denise Scott-McDonald; Sarah Merrill; Matthew Morrow, Jackie Smith and Miranda Williams.

 

In moving the motion Councillor Hartley thanked both Councillor Hyland and Hills for their assistance in preparing the Motion.  This was an issue that united the Chamber as it was of vital importance to both Woolwich and the Borough both due to the adverse effect that the departure of the military could have on business but they were also a key part of life in the Borough. It appeared that the proposal to close Woolwich Barracks was not a cost saving one but a re-alignment of military services and he felt that the military leaving the Borough was the wrong decision.  There were links between Woolwich and the Military Services going back over 300 hundred years; the barracks were recently refurbished to accommodate the King’s Troops and were ideally located for a speedy response to any incidents in London.  He advised that he had sought clarification, from the Ministry of Defence, as to the rationale behind the proposals and what considerations had been given to keeping the army here.

 

Councillor Hyland, Leader of the Council, seconded the Motion and gave an in-depth history of the military connections to the Borough and Woolwich, going back to 1716.  She noted that the Royal Artillery had moved to the Barracks, in 2007, after a previous campaign to save the Woolwich barracks and as recently as 2012 £50million had been spent to refurbish the Barracks to support the King’s Troop.   She believed that, in order to be successful at retaining the military at Woolwich the public, MPs and the Council would need to work together.  She concurred that the proximity of Woolwich to London was ideal for the military services, particularly for the day to day work of the King’s Troop, who formed the Ceremonial Guard.  She urged all Members to speak to their constituents, use social media and raise awareness of the proposals.

 

Councillors Fahy, Offord and Gardner addressed the Council who felt that Woolwich Barracks was a special situation and would need more than local campaigning to overturn the proposed closure.  It did not appear to make financial sense for the Armed Forces to dispose of the site, having recently spent substantial amounts on refurbishment.  The closure of the barracks would not only affect the 900 service men and women and their families but non-military staff employed on site and the local economy. The maintenance of adequate security in London should be a high consideration.

 

Councillor Hartley formally closed the debate

 

Resolvedunanimously -

 

That this Council opposes the closure of Woolwich Barracks in 2028, announced in the Ministry of Defence's 'A Better Defence Estate' Strategy on 7th November 2016.

 

That the Grade II* listed Barracks have been at the heart of Woolwich since their completion in 1802, and have  ...  view the full minutes text for item 16.

17.

Political Balance of the Council Following the By-Election pdf icon PDF 55 KB

Additional documents:

Decision:

Noted the change in political balance of the Council now comprising 42 Labour Members and 9 Conservative Members.

 

Agreed the revised allocation of seats on Committees of the Council as set out in Appendix A to the report.

 

Agreed to appoint the following Members to committees of the Council;

·       Overview and Scrutiny – Councillor Geoff Brighty

·       Planning Board – Councillor Mark Elliott

·       Eltham and Kidbrooke Area Planning Committee – Councillor Charlie Davis

·       Healthier Communities and Adult Social Care Scrutiny – Councillor Matt Hartley

·       Regeneration, Transport and Culture Scrutiny Panel – Councillor Charlie Davis

 

 

 

Minutes:

Councillor Hartley noted that the Conservative Group now formed 17.6% of the Members of the Council but held no Scrutiny Chair or Mayoral positions and asked that these, non-political, roles be proportioned between the two political groups.

 

Councillor Hyland, Leader of the Council, noted this request.

 

Councillor Drury requested that the notification that Wynn Davies had stood down form the Eltham North Ward be removed from the Town Hall Notice Board.


Resolved -

 

1   That the change in political balance of the Council now comprising 42 Labour Members and 9 Conservative Members be noted.

 

2.  That the revised allocation of seats on Committees of the Council as set out in Appendix A to the report be agreed.

 

3.  That it be agreed to appoint the following Members to committees of the Council;

·       Overview and Scrutiny – Councillor Geoff Brighty

·       Planning Board – Councillor Mark Elliott

·       Eltham and Kidbrooke Area Planning Committee – Councillor Charlie Davis

·       Healthier Communities and Adult Social Care Scrutiny – Councillor Matt Hartley

·       Regeneration, Transport and Culture Scrutiny Panel – Councillor Charlie Davis