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Archive for January 14th, 2013

The next monthly cat fight that is the full meeting of Tower Hamlets council takes place a week tomorrow. While the agenda isn’t yet available, the most significant part of the proceedings are likely to happen after the press and public have been excluded when our fine elected representatives discuss the most vexed question of who to appoint as Head of Paid Service.

I understand that the Local Government Association have a “heavy hitter” in mind to recommend should councillors find the problem to difficult to solve themselves. This heavy hitter would then be able to embark on the not unimportant quest to find a new finance director in these uncertain times. And also a new children’s and adult services director, of course, after the “first class” Isobel Cattermole cashes in her rather large retirement package in a couple of months’ time.

We’ll learn what we mere taxpaying mortals are allowed to witness in the open part of the meeting in the next few days, but in the meantime, to give you a flavour, I thought you’d like to see the questions and motions that the Conservative group has submitted.

While it is good to see that rare event in Tower Hamlets of a Tory on attack on Labour, I particularly like their two motions on housing associations. One calls for these “social landlords” to be subjected to the Freedom of Information Act, while the other wants an end to tenancies granted to people earning more than £80,000 a year. Now, whoever could they mean?

 

Tower Hamlets Conservative Group

Questions and Motions submitted to

Council Meeting; 23 January 2013

 

Questions

 

Cllr Peter Golds

In 2011 the Parliament approved the “Code of Recommended Practice on Local Authority Publicity”. Tower Hamlets Council has chosen to ignore this code, in particular by continuing to publish East End Life at cost to the taxpayer.

The Government has announced that to ensure compliance of the Code of Recommended Practice legislation to is to be introduced which will empower the Secretary of State to make a direction requiring compliance with some or all of the Publicity Code’s recommendations.

Will the Mayor announce when he proposes to cease publication of East End Life, which contravenes the Code?

Cllr Zara Davis

What action has been taken by the Council to prevent Tunnel Runs occurring in the Westferry Circus underground roundabout, since the meeting between the Council and Police on 5th December?

Cllr Tim Archer

Will the Mayor outline what meetings he has had with London City Airport and who he has nominated to serve on the Consultative Committee to alleviate the problems faced by Isle of Dogs residents as a result of noise pollution from flights from the increased flights from London City Airport?

Cllr Dr Emma Jones

What is the Mayor doing to improve the lighting and remove the overgrown shrubbery in Wapping Woods?

Cllr David Snowdon

What steps is the Mayor taking to fix the potholes on the roads of the Isle of Dogs?

Cllr Craig Aston

In view of the interest by the Mayor in the career of George Lansbury, is the Mayor aware that when George Lansbury was inaugurated as Mayor of Poplar in both 1919 and 1937 the ceremony took place at Poplar Town Hall, Poplar High Street, which was also the venue for the meeting in which Poplar Council resolved not to levy the LCC and Metropolitan Police precepts, which resulted in the Local Authorities (Equalization) Act of 1921.

Therefore, would the Mayor explain to the public why he authorised the sale of this historic building at a low price to purchasers with close connections to him and his administration?

Cllr Gloria Thienel

What advice did the Mayor receive in regards to the ownership of the Henry Moore sculpture ‘The Draped Seated Woman’ prior to his aborted attempt to sell it?

 

Motions January 2013

 

Motion On Tower Hamlets Cultural Heritage

Proposed By: Cllr Peter Golds

Seconded By: Cllr Tim Archer 

 

This Council Notes:

  • That in 1962 Henry Moore sold to the former London County Council his bronze work of art, The Draped Seated Woman, which was presented to the people of Stepney and located in the Stifford Estate and became popularly known to residents as ‘Old Flo.’
  • That the sculpture passed to the former Greater London Council on April 1st 1965 and upon the abolition of the Greater London Council in 1986, it passed to the London Residuary Body.
  • That following the winding up of the London Residuary Body, assets were distributed for care amongst the 32 London Boroughs and the Drape Seated Woman was passed into the care of the London Borough of Bromley.
  • That in 1997 ‘Old Flo’ was moved by Tower Hamlets Council to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park.
  • That in 2010 Councillor Tim Archer undertook a survey amongst residents as to the future of the sculpture with the alternatives of selling the sculpture or bringing it back to Tower Hamlets. As a result of this survey, a Council Meeting in 2010 the Council unanimously agreed a motion proposed by Cllr Archer to return the sculpture to Tower Hamlets and display it for the benefit of all local residents.
  • That Mayor Rahman attempted to sell the statue, without consulting the people of this Borough or fully establishing the ownership, thereby placing the world renowned Auction House, Christies, in a potential legal minefield.
  • That the sculpture, following the winding up of the London Residuary Body, is in the care of the London Borough of Bromley
  • That the London Borough of Bromley wish the sculpture be returned to London and located in the Docklands Museum so it is available for all Londoners to experience.

This Council Further Notes:

  • The poor advice the Mayor and Cabinet received in their decision to sell the sculpture.

This Council Resolves:

  • To confirm to Christies that the sculpture is not available for sale due it not legally being owned by Tower Hamlets Council.
  • To undertake an Independent investigation as to the legal and ownership advice provided to the administration. That this investigation should examine all internal and external advice submitted to the administration and following this investigation, provide the Council with proposals to ensure that such a situation does not arise again.

 

Motion on Benefit Cap 

Proposed by: Cllr Tim Archer

Seconded by: Cllr David Snowdon

 

This Council Notes:

1 in every 3 pounds raised in taxes by the Government is spent on Welfare

That more money is spent on Welfare than the Defence, Education and Health budgets put together.

That the Rt Hon Liam Byrne MP, Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary told the London School of Economics in 2012;

“We are the Labour Party. The party that said idleness is an evil. The Party of workers, not shirkers”

Mr Byrne also told the Labour Party Conference in 2011;

“Many people on the doorstep at the last election felt that too often we were for shirkers, not workers”

The last Labour Government left a deficit of £170 billion and over a trillion pounds worth of national debt, and Liam Byrne MP, left a note at the Treasury for his successor which stated;

“Dear Chief Secretary,

I am afraid to tell you, there is no money left.”

Over the past 5 years those living on out of work benefits have seen their income increase by 20% while those in work have seen their income increase by just 12%.

This Council Believes:

That the Coalition Government were right to cap benefit rises at 1% for the next 3 years in line with public sector workers pay.

That the Coalition Government are right to get our public finances and deficit under control following the financial mess the last Labour Government left.

This council supports Liam Byrne’s speeches of 2011 and 2012 regarding welfare, as quoted above.

This Council Resolves:

To support the Government in their steps to help people get back to work.

To support the Government’s 1% up-rating of benefits for the next 3 years.

 

Motion On History Teaching

Proposed By Cllr Zara Davis

Seconded By Cllr David Snowdon

 

This council notes:

Only 11.7% of Tower Hamlets school children pass GCSE History at grades A*-C. This is the fifth lowest number in England, ahead of only Knowsley, Newham, Kingston-Upon-Hull and Manchester.

Over three times more school children achieve A*-C GCSE History in the top performing council in the country, Hammersmith and Fulham.

Tower Hamlets has the ninth lowest number of children passing A-Level History in England.

This council believes:

That the study of history allows our school children to develop high level analytical skills, and helps them to more fully appreciate the world around them. This in turn promotes civic and community engagement.

That in order to increase the number of Tower Hamlets school children achieving high grades in History, we need to increase the provision of History teaching in our schools.

This council resolves:

To instruct officers to write to all Head Teachers of schools within the Borough to make them aware of the Council’s support for a higher provision of History teaching.

To instruct officers to contact schools to investigate barriers to a higher level of provision of history teaching and report back to full council within six months.

To ask the Mayor to champion the cause of history teaching in Tower Hamlets and investigate what he can do to promote this objective

 

Motion: Social Landlords

Proposed By Cllr Dr Emma Jones

Seconded By Cllr Peter Golds

 

This Council Notes:

  • That the Minister for Housing and Local Government has praised social landlords such as Viridian and Home Group for their plans to publish expenditure over £500.
  • That the Minister calls on social landlords to follow Viridian and Home Group’s example and become more transparent.
  • That the Government is committed to a consultation with social landlords on whether to expand the scope of the Freedom of Information Act to apply to them.

This Council Believes:

  • That the example shown by Viridian and Home Group is a step in the right direction and that all social landlords should consider following their lead.
  • That the government should extend the Freedom of Information Act to apply to social landlords and all Housing Associations; so that they will publish spending over £500.

This Council Resolves:

  •  To support the government in its consultation.
  • To encourage and support Housing Associations/Social landlords in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets to publish all spending over £500.

 

High Earners and Council Housing

Proposed by: Cllr Gloria Thienel

Seconded by: Cllr Tim Archer

 

This Council Notes:

  • There are some 6,000 Council houses across the UK that have tenants earning more than £100,000 a year living in them.
  • That it has been reported that there are 15,000 tenants in social housing earning more than £80,000 a year.
  • That there are a number of such tenants resident in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets. These people including key supporters of the Mayor and his administration.
  • That the Minister for Housing and Local Government has brought forward plans that would give social landlords new powers to increase rents for high-income tenants.

This Council Believes:

  •  That these new powers granted to social landlords by the Department for Communities and Local Government will help solve this problem and return much needed social housing to those in need.

This Council Resolves:

  • To support the Department for Communities and Local Government in putting in place these new powers.
  • To encourage all Social Landlords in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets not to subsidise rents for those high earners earning over £80,000

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