Greenwich Council

Agenda, decisions and minutes

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

Contact: Daniel Wilkinson  Email: daniel.wilkinson@royalgreenwich.gov.uk or tel: 020 8921 5102

Note: The deadline for public questions is 12 noon on 12 July 2017 

Webcast: View the webcast

Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies for absence

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Norman Adams, Tonia Ashikodi, Olu Babatola, Barbara Barwick, Mandy Brinkhurst, Matt Clare, John Fahy, Nuala Geary, Mick Hayes, Christine May, Harpinder Singh, Aidan Smith and Ray Walker

 

Apologies for arriving late were received from Councillors Angela Cornforth and Averil Lekau

 

Apologies for leaving early were given by Councillor Geoffrey Brighty

 

2.

Minutes

To agree the Minutes of the Council Meeting held on 28 June 2017.

 

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 Council Meeting held on 28 June 2017 be agreed and signed as a true and accurate record.

 

 

 

3.

Mayor's Announcements

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Mayor reminded Members that the Thamesmead Art Festival was taking place on Friday 15 – Sunday 17 September 2017, and he hoped all Members would support the event.

 

The Mayor announced that John Comber, the Chief Executive, was to leave the employ of the Royal Borough of Greenwich in August. The Mayor noted that John Comber had been with the Borough since 1996 in a number of roles, including Project Director E Government, Director of HR and Organisational Improvement, Director of Regeneration, Enterprise and Skills, before his appointment to the role of Chief Executive in 2014.

 

The Mayor, Councillor Peter Brooks, gave personal thanks to John Comber for his work with him in his role as a Councillor over the years.

 

The Leader of the Council, Councillor Denise Hyland, commented on the work of John Comber in his various roles and thanked him for all his work for the Borough, in particular his work on the Council’s IT and regeneration. In echoing the words of the Mayor and of the Leader of the Council the leader of the minority party also recognised John Comber’s work with The Society of Local Authority Chief Executives and Senior Managers.

 

On behalf of Council the Mayor thanked John Comber for his work and wished him well for the future.

 

 

 

4.

Declarations of Interest pdf icon PDF 39 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:

Resolved –

 

That the list of Councillors’ memberships as Council appointed representatives on outside bodies, joint committees and school governing bodies is 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:

No petitions were presented at the meeting.

 

 

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 99 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 stated that Council had received 20 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 the minutes.

9.

Questions from Members pdf icon PDF 90 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 stated that 19 written questions had been received from Members of the Council.  The questions and replies, together with the supplementary submissions made during the meeting are attached as Appendix B to the minutes.

 

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

 

Councillor Matt Hartley asked the Cabinet Member for Children and Young People with regard to the £1.95 million received from the DfE to support families with children with problems of domestic violence, did the Council’s plan for that money include male victims. Councillor Miranda Williams, the Cabinet Member for Children and Young People confirmed that it did.

 

Councillor Matt Hartley asked the Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Sustainability would he consider the idea of an ongoing resident contact panel for matters to do with Eltham High Street. Councillor Danny Thorpe, the Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Sustainability said with regard to ongoing resident consultation he was more than satisfied that he and Ward Councillors meet residents regularly at the Eltham Centre, to discuss and receive feedback and make clear that what residents have said is incorporated into the scheme.

 

Councillor Spencer Drury asked the Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Sustainability what progress was there on the new Article 4 Direction and what impact did he hope it would have on the Borough. Councillor Danny Thorpe, the Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Sustainability, said the Council was now dealing with a serious issue of the proliferation of HMOs, particularly affecting the east of the Borough. Residents were concerned and wanted the Council to do more; the Article 4 Direction would prohibit any more conversions to HMOs. A report would go to Cabinet in September. There would be a year before implementation otherwise the Council would be liable for costs if there was immediate implementation; but the authority would be enforcing and taking strong action in the meantime.

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 noted that no requests for matters to be taken early had been received.

 

11.

Statement of Accounts 2016/17 pdf icon PDF 61 KB

Additional documents:

Decision:

Noted the Audit Findings Report (AFR) in respect of the Royal Borough of Greenwich and the Pension Fund

 

Noted there were no comments from the Audit and Risk Management Panel and Pension Fund Investment and Administration Panel

 

Approved the Statement of Accounts for the year ended 31 March 2017 at, incorporating agreed amendments.

 

Agreed that the Mayor sign and date the revised Statement of Accounts.

Minutes:

The Mayor advised Council that the Royal Borough’s accounts, the Pension Fund accounts and the Statement of Accounts for the year ended 31 March 2017, had been circulated on a Supplementary Agenda. The Mayor informed Council that the Accounts and the Auditor’s Findings Report had been considered at the beginning of week by the Pensions Fund Investment and Administration Panel and the Audit and Risk Management Panel, and that neither Panel had any further comments for the Council’s consideration. 

 

The Mayor welcomed Paul Dossett, the Engagement Lead from Grant Thornton to the meeting, and asked him to introduce the Auditor’s Findings Report.

 

Paul Dossett, the Engagement Lead from Grant Thornton, summarised the report. He advised Council that the deadline for submission of Statement of Accounts was being brought forward next year for all councils. He stated that he intended to give an unqualified opinion on the accounts and unqualified conclusion on value for money. He informed Council that they had not been able to certify the audit closed because the whole of government accounts would not be completed until October, and because they had received an objection from a local authority elector and that had to be considered.

 

The Mayor invited questions to the auditor.

 

Councillor Spencer Drury referring to Page 12 of the Supplementary Agenda and the “late provision of requested audit evidence” resulting in higher charges to the Council, and Page 21 “Confirmation requests from

third parties” asked how much was this to cost and did he consider there was a problem in getting information on time.

 

Paul Dossett, the Engagement Lead from Grant Thornton replied that receiving information from third parties was a perennial challenge for auditors, for various reasons, and it was mentioned as it was something they and the Council wanted improved. There had been challenges early on in the audit process with regard to the availability of information which had led to a delay in the timetable, the fee for that was still under discussion with Officers but it was not a significant fee and it would be reported to the Audit and Risk Management Panel.

 

In moving the recommendation, Councillor Denise Hyland, Leader of the Council, thanked Paul Dossett and his team for their report. The Leader thanked Scrutiny and the Audit and Risk Management Panel for their work on scrutinising the accounts. The Leader of the Council noted that the accounts had again been prepared in record time. While the Royal Borough of Greenwich was a leader in accounts closure it was not a race, it was about accuracy; and the Council continued to demonstrate sound governance and deliver value for money. The Leader said it was pleasing that this had been achieved against the backdrop of funding reductions during the austerity period. The Leader of the Council recalled that she had suggested last year that the July Council be moved forward a week so they could conclude business before the school holiday as part of making the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 11.

12.

Treasury Management Outturn Report 2016/17 pdf icon PDF 90 KB

Additional documents:

Decision:

Agreed the Treasury Management Outturn Report for 2016/17

Minutes:

The Mayor informed Council that the Report had previously been considered by Cabinet and by the Audit and Risk Management Panel and that neither of them had any further comments for the Council’s consideration. 

 

Councillor Denise Hyland, Leader of the Council moved the report. The Leader commented that despite market turbulence after Brexit there had been no material effect on their low risk and security first approach to treasury management. She commented on the low interest rate and on the Council’s repayment of loans, noting that the Council had not taken out any new loans since 2012. She noted that the matter had been scrutinised by the Audit and Risk Management Panel and the Leader thanked the Members of that Panel for their work.

 

The matter was put to the vote and it was unanimously

 

Resolved -

 

That the Treasury Management Outturn Report for 2016/17 be agreed.

13.

Revision of the 1938 bye laws that govern use of both the Greenwich and Woolwich foot tunnels pdf icon PDF 68 KB

Additional documents:

Decision:

Agreed to amend the bye-laws for the Greenwich and Woolwich Foot

Tunnels as described within the report and, subject to the endorsement of the amendments by Tower Hamlets and Newham Councils, submit the amendments to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local

Government for ratification

Minutes:

Councillor Denise Hyland, Leader of the Council, moved the report.

 

Resolved -

 

That it be agreed to amend the bye-laws for the Greenwich and Woolwich Foot Tunnels as described within the report and, subject to the endorsement of the amendments by Tower Hamlets and Newham Councils, submit the amendments to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government for ratification

14.

Petitions Response pdf icon PDF 56 KB

Additional documents:

Decision:

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

Minutes:

The Mayor stated he had received a request from the lead petitioner to speak.

 

The Mayor invited Tony Othen to address Council in relation to the petition response set out in section 3 of the report.

 

Tony Othen said a community had been created where none had existed before, and he detailed its benefits. He highlighted that the land in question had been vacant for five years, and the community had created a lovely space. He stressed that the community wanted to work in partnership with Council to get a satisfactory solution. He applauded the proposal to have an architectural competition and he hoped there would be a sharing of views on the brief to be given to participants. He noted two previous applications had been refused and he noted the reasons for their refusal. He urged Council to recognise paragraph 121 of the National Planning Policy Framework.

 

Councillor Denise Hyland, Leader of the Council, thanked Tony Othen for his contribution. The Leader stated that the Council had to take account of all competing demands; London was short of housing, and the Council was committed to creating new homes. The Leader said it was not tenable to leave land which could house two families as an allotment in the middle of the town centre. In finding a design that was attractive and suitable the Council would have discharged their duty to the people of the Borough. The Leader wanted to work in partnership and wanted comment on the design. The Leader noted that at Planning Board many people had said they were not against development of the site they just did not like the proposed design. This was the first time that the Council had done an architectural competition for a site that it owned. It was hoped that working with the community they would get a happy solution.

 

Resolved –

 

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

15.

Motion "Assistance with resources for Councils to implement fire safety measures to its housing stock" pdf icon PDF 41 KB

Motion proposed by Councillors Chris Kirby and Denise Hyland

Additional documents:

Decision:

Resolved -

 

This Council notes with great sadness the tragedy that has taken place at Grenfell Tower and extends its sincere condolences to the all those who have been affected by this disaster.

 

Council calls upon the Government to commit to assisting with resources for Councils to implement any fire safety measures to its housing stock as recommended by the official report.

 

Council praises the bravery and the work of emergency services in dealing with this disaster, probably the most significant civil emergency since 1945.

 

Minutes:

Councillor Chris Kirby moved the motion, reserving the right to speak.

 

In seconding the motion, Councillor Averil Lekau noted that the Council had established a fire safety team some years ago, and had implemented an ongoing programme of improvements to the Council's housing stock, to meet fire safety requirements. However, following the Grenfell tragedy the Council, and other local authorities, would need to significantly increase their investment in fire safety improvements in order to provide assurance for their residents given their heightened concern. The Council's core finances and ring-fenced housing revenue account were already under extreme pressures which were exacerbated by the Government's policy or inaction.

 

Therefore, Councillor Lekau suggested that the Council request the Government to scrap the 1% annual rent reduction which had resulted in a £33 million loss of income for investment, and to provide dedicated funding to support the Council's essential programmes for fire safety improvements, and increase the proportion of right to buy receipts from the existing 30% so that the Council could use that to develop or build new affordable housing, and that would decrease the Council’s match funding requirement freeing up resources for investment. It was requested that the Government require the private rented sector to provide local authorities with information in pursuit of their roles to lead and co-ordinate housing provision in their areas in keeping with their democratic mandate. The Government was urged to enable local authorities to establish HMO saturation zones which would restrict numbers of HMOs permitted in given areas. The Council should be given full mandatory licensing of the whole private rented sector or require landlords to register their let properties with the local authority. The Government should amend emergency prohibition orders to deal with private rented sector properties that provided a health and safety hazard to tenants. This would involve extending local authority powers so that they could require tenants to leave a property with immediate effect, rather than leave it to landlords to find alternative accommodation in their own time. This would have an associated power to require landlords to reimburse the local authority for any costs it incurred as a result of those tenants being deemed homeless. The time limit to prosecute landlords for Housing Act offences should be extended from the current six months to two years in line with food safety and health and safety offences. They needed more clarity within building regulations making them less vague and open to interpretation, by levelling the playing field for competition from approved building inspectors. At present the local authority has to do regularisations and set fees which were then undercut by approved inspectors.

 

Given a ‘shopping list’, Councillor Lekau added that a problem had arisen given that some blocks were privately owned and yet had RP tenants within them. Securing information and remedial action was complex and needed to be simplified. She proposed that a building registration programme for buildings over 6 storeys was developed. Developers, whether private or otherwise should lodge with the Council  ...  view the full minutes text for item 15.

16.

Motion "Schools admissions arrangements for 2018" pdf icon PDF 43 KB

Motion proposed by Councillors Matt Hartley, John Hills, Nuala Geary, Mark Elliott, Charlie Davis, Spencer Drury, Mandy Brinkhurst, Matt Clare

Additional documents:

Decision:

The motion was not carried.

Minutes:

Councillor Spencer Drury moved the motion. Councillor Drury summarised the motion. He suggested an apology was appropriate in the matter. He stressed that it was important for backbench Councillors to hold the executive to account. In calling for an additional meeting of Council he said the Council had a duty to check to make sure they got it right next time.

 

The motion was seconded by Councillor Matt Hartley.

 

Councillor Miranda Williams, Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, said they had already issued an apology but that she, as Cabinet Member, would like to apologise formally for all those young people and their families affected by the change in admissions arrangement for the 2017 academic year. Councillor Williams explained that the Council was obliged to consult on secondary admission arrangements when changes were proposed. She detailed the 2017 consultation arrangements and noted there was no objection or call-in of Cabinet’s decision in February 2016.  She explained that it became apparent that summer key stage results and attainment levels were not as expected and that the new banding arrangements might disproportionately affect some bands over others, but because the admission arrangements had already been published they were not able to change them. They were advised by the  Office of the Schools Adjudicator of an objection from an individual to the Council’s arrangements and so an in year variation had been sought; however, they were advised by the Office of the Schools Adjudicator that they should await the determination of the objection. They had met with secondary schools to discuss the determination and an appropriate course of action was agreed. She said that a new consultation was taking place proposing the removal of banding arrangements; once concluded any changes would be made.

 

Councillor Miranda Williams proposed and seconded by Councillor Chris Kirby that the matter be put straight to the vote.

 

The proposal was put to the vote and with 25 vote in favour and 8 against the proposal to go straight to the vote was agreed.

 

Councillor Spencer Drury protested that they were moving straight to vote without discussion. He felt public debate and transparency was important around this issue. He hoped that after the decision was made in August a letter would be sent to all Councillors explaining what would be put in place.

 

The motion was put to the vote and with 8 in favour and 25 against the motion was not carried.