Camden full council: live updates


21.58: What do you know? No time for a full debate, the Mayor announces. As per usual, the Labour majority outflank the Tories in the vote, with a heavily amended motion. And that folks, is your lot. Until next week.

21.52: Roger Robinson responds: “It can’t just be down to us”. He says supermarkets should use less packaging and fast food places should make less mess. And there’s that hotel tax idea, in which hoteliers pay to help clear up mess caused by tourists. The Labour response, through Adam Harrison, then drifts off into how the big bad government are responsible for low numbers on the electoral roll, because of the cuts and stuff. Conservative Siobhan Baillie accuses the Labour team of deviating off into ‘ten different subjects’ rather than answering the opposition’s questions about waste.

21.48: And so we come to the motion debate, for which 12 minutes have been allowed. It’s a Tory call for waste collections to be protected in budget cuts. “It’s not a luxury, it’s a necessity,” Conservative Andrew Mennear says in opening remarks.

Screenshot 2015-01-19 at 21.50.14

21.44: Nice patter follows from Labour Kilburn councillor Douglas Beattie, saying that nobody has mention the ‘dreaded S word tonight… Scotland’. It’s a joke, y’see, a reference to the Scottish independence walkout last year, which he didn’t agree with. ‘How times have changed, eh?,” he snarks.

21.43: Tory backbencher Andrew Marshall says he wants to talk about supermarkets. Is he going to say that he’s not so fussed about Tesco coming to Haverstock Hill? No – he wants action on stray trolleys emanating from Waitrose in Swiss Cottage.

21.39: Green councillor Sian Berry goes out of borough for her contribution. She says she has written to Haringey Council asking it to improve anti-suicide measures on the Archway Viaduct. “The height of the bridge turns desperate acts into fatal decisions,” she says, wanting other councillors to support it too.

21.35: Gio Spinella is back on his feet, complaining about the school run traffic in Frognal – the private school square mile. Congestion from all those cars are affecting air quality, he reckons. St Anthony’s independent school is expanding in Arkwright Road. Council must do more and so on. Now there’s a subject, we’ve been talking about for at least a decade.

21.33: We are listening to Heather Johnson read a poem about St Pancras Station. THAT right there, is why you’re not watching Broadchurch.

21.24: Possibly sarcastically, the deputy Mayor Larraine Revah says ‘we’ve been really lucky tonight, as we’ve got time for one more’. It allows Maeve McCormack to raise the ‘NHS crisis’ with her Labour colleague Pat Callaghan. She celebrates the local hospitals and GPs, but says everybody is worried about NHS reorganisation – tells the Tories to ‘wake up’ and stop cutting preventative care. Interesting to note, I can’t tell you what the Tory response to any of this is, as they don’t get the chance to speak here.

21.12: Then comes a set-piece between Highgate councillor Oliver Lewis and the council leader in which they share five minutes talking about how bad it would be if the Tories formed the next government. Not sure what the question was – something as simple as what will happen to Camden if the Conservatives win. In response, we were told lots of times that the Tories arebad in different ways.

In other news, the public gallery has just one person in it.

21.12: Questions to chief councillors. Andrew Mennear, Tory, asks the council leader Sarah Hayward how it will make sure the Camden’s magazine and other council-produced does not promote Labour in the run up into general election. She insists it all gets checked by the borough solicitor so no rules are broken. He demands a ‘clean fight’, and then asks whether she would invite the Greens to election debates, but the question gets punctured in laughter when every one looks around to see lone Green councillor Sian Berry has just popped out of the room.

20.58: Some posts you may have missed today:



20.53: Interesting figure in the papers tonight: of the 4,200 memberships taken out at the Pancras Square gym and swimming pool, which opened under the new council offices in King’s Cross last year, 75 percent have been taken out by people who live outside of Camden. Council says it is keen to increase local take-up.

20.37: Back to here, finance strategy scrutiny time. Oh yes, keep watching it live on the CNJ website. Conservative Councillor Gio Spinella stands up and celebrates Camden’s move towards bringing in more dosh: selling advertising, late night levy on bars, that kind of thing. But Gio is not so happy with the hotel tax idea (that you read in the CNJ before the Guardian, yeah you did). The idea is that we have to clear up behind the mass of tourists that Camden attracts and which the hotels make their money from. Gio says people won’t come to Camden if the council stands alone imposing the extra charge on holidaymakers, defeating the purpose. For Labour’s part, they had called for a campaign across London’s boroughs on this. 

20.26: Broadchurch latest… contrary to Cllr McCormack’s tweet below, journalism isn’t like it is on TV progs or films, unless you are Kay Burley, who acts exactly like journalists do in films. Namely, the Courtney Cox reporter character in the Scream films. The worstest people in the world are reporters from the Walford Gazette, who shuffle through Eastenders with suspicious rat faces and exaggerated eavesdropping facial expressions down the cafe. It’s not like that, honestly.


20.18: Councillor Georgia Gould, the cabinet member for young people, now taking questions. Labour man James Yarde worries that young people are not getting into politics and suggests the council should continue to work on encourage greater interest. Conservative councillor Stephen Stark says he’d like to pick up on Cllr Yardeee‘s point – his pronunciation, not mine – saying any initiative should be cross-party.  ‘If it was just Labour they might be put off from voting,” he says, deadpan as you like.

20.15: Modern life.

20.06: A fairly good night for schools chief Angela Mason who cruises through her report to council without too much flak and some school successes to parade. Sneaky bid by Simon Marcus at the end there to get Angela to celebrate the help of pupil premiums from government. She’s not doing that, when there are government cuts to talk about. Tory side mutter from the benches in front of us that apples are being compared with pears.

It’s not all brilliant news. There is that grim figure on child poverty we’ve heard before. “I have to pinch myself to remember the figure: a third of Camden’s children live in what is defined as poverty,” Angela says, answering a question from Lorna Russell. “That’s the eleventh highest in London.” She promises urgent work on this, particularly on overcrowding in Camden’s homes.

19.58: Camden is sitting for two full council meetings over two successive Mondays to make up for the session missed last year when the councillors jumped the Town Hall to go to the Scottish independence rally in Trafalgar Square last year. Seems a long time ago now


19.55: You could be watching the Broadchurch instead. Not that it’s clear why you would want to do that? The whole thing is stupid: The policewoman’s husband kills the boy and then the policewoman somehow gets to the graveyard to watch him being exhumed… just so David Tennant can do his crazy, arched eyebrow acting thing.

19.50: Btw… if you want to see all of this live as it happens. You can watch it on the CNJ website. That’s right, perfect viewing after a hard day at work. Crack open a beer, get some snacks in and log on. 

19.42: Council leader Sarah Hayward on her feet, giving her update on council business announcing the local successes she sees on HS2 (Maria Fidelis school site) and fairer pay (Unison charter). Conservative leader Claire-Louise Leyland follows, announcing successes she sees from the government on the economy. 

19.30: Councillors have been hearing a deputation from Eammon Cashin and Nik Masters who are calling on the council to hold Camden & Islington Mental Health Trust to account over closures of beds and a reduced workforce. They are referencing THIS story from last August, which revealed there had been a ‘cluster of deaths’ among mental health patients. A public inquiry is being demanded. Pat Callaghan says some incidents have understandably raised alarm, and that there will be a review as to whether they were linked to the bed closure programme.

19.27: Congratulations from the mayor to Simon Marcus – the Hampstead councillor who is also standing for Parliament in May – on the birth of his new baby. Good luck to him, a bleary-eyed mix of nappies and election leaflets for him!

19.25: A minute’s silence for Peter Brayshaw. Rest In Peace, councillor.

IMG_2819aa_019.05: The meeting begins with tributes to Somers Town and St Pancras councillor Peter Brayshaw, who died just before Christmas. Heartfelt words from council leader Sarah Hayward, who says she is still grieving the loss of a friend but is thankful for the time she spent working with him. She talks about his time campaigning in Africa against apartheid for nations to gain independence. “Thank you kind and wise Peter Brayshaw, I will miss you desperately,” she tells. Fellow Labour councillor Roger Robinson said the day Peter died was the saddest of his life. “Peter’s caring will be with us forever,” he says. “We will be thinking of a way to commemorate him within the ward in such a way that people will remember him forever.”

Ward colleague and close friend Samata Khatoon also speaks, as does Rishi Madlani and Pat Callaghan. The admiration runs across the floor, Conservative councillor Don Williams and Lib Dem councillor Flick Rea have also paid tribute. It’s a sad, emotional time for all of the councillors in the chamber. They are still in shock. His popularity is obvious.

You can see Sarah’s full tribute here.

A tribute from David Kenvyn, from ACTSA, here.

Words from the anti-apartheid movement, here.

Something I wrote about his time in Angola here.

19.00: Full council has began at the Town Hall. It’s one of two in a row, this Monday, and another one next Monday.  

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