To debate any motions submitted in accordance with Council Procedure Rules.
Madam Mayor requested the Chief Executive read the first Council Debate Motion made on behalf of the Administration: This council regrets the continuing uncertainty for Croydon residents, workers and employers arising from the government's inability to deliver a Brexit deal that will leave this country better off.
This council laments the wasted years of government chaos since the EU referendum in June 2016, and resolves to continue to seek to mitigate the worst effects of that government incompetence by continuing to work closely with the business community to invest in our borough and our people, and to send a clear message that Croydon is, and will remain, open.
Madam Mayor invited Councillor Wood to propose the motion.
Councillor Wood stated that it had been 949 days since the Brexit vote took place and that this was enough time to plan for the Brexit. However, with 64 days until the UK’s exit from the EU, there was no greater clarity on the terms of this departure. Further, the lack of understanding of those politicians who had supported and who were responsible for delivering it was noted. Councillor Wood therefore stated that the current situation did not come as a surprise. The impact this was having was noted: for example, medicines were being stockpiled, the negative effect on GDP, rising unemployment, increased costs of food and electricity. This was described as resulting from the incompetence of the Government which was acting in its own narrow self-interest. It was called on to rule out a no deal exit. Those that had created this situation were described as being inoculated from what they had created. Councillor Wood moved the motion saying it was based on what the Administration wanted to achieve for Croydon’s future.
Councillor Shalul-Hameed seconded the motion and reserved her right to speak.
Councillor Jason Cummings was invited by Madam Mayor to speak.
In response, Councillor Jason Cummings spoke against the motion and noted the hypocrisy of the Labour Party. The efforts being made to get a deal were highlighted and the Administration was called on to support those endeavours. Brexit may be criticised but it was still supported by the British public. In truth it was only the Conservative Party that was putting a solution forward.
Councillor Tim Pollard was then invited to speak by Madam Mayor.
Councillor Tim Pollard also spoke against the motion highlighting that Brexit was the biggest issue facing the country during all our lifetimes; the country was at a crossroads in seeking to deliver what the people had voted for. Councillor Tim Pollard called on all to work together in the national interest to deliver the commitments made by both parties in the 2017 General Election. The Councillor called on this to not be about making cheap political points and reminded Council that the Labour Party had voted in favour of holding the referendum and that its current sitting MPs had all been elected on a manifesto supporting the outcome of the referendum. Similarly, its MPs had voted for Article 50. Councillor Tim Pollard called the motion pointless. He recommended that Administration Councillors should send a message to its Party’s MPs to come together to get a deal that could be supported. The need to stop playing party politics to act in the interests of the country was stressed.
Councillor Shahul-Hameed exercised her right to speak and noted that Brexit was like any divorce – it takes a long time because it was serious and takes effort. The resulting uncertainty was putting jobs at risk because it was impacting on investment and spending. This was evidenced through the downturn in retail confidence. Councillor Shahul-Hameed highlighted a recent company survey that showed they had not experienced this level of difficulty in finding staff since the 1980s. Based on her recent consultation with local SMEs, it was highlighted that there was concern about the possible impact on interest rates and tariffs on imports. The administration shared the objective of local businesses in seeking to be tolerant, diverse and open but there was a concern that not all would be able to futureproof themselves from Brexit. As a result there was a need to avoid a disorderly Brexit and therefore she supported the motion.
The motion was put to the vote and carried.
Madam Mayor then requested the Chief Executive read the Opposition motion: Elderly, disabled and vulnerable residents have been neglected and treated appallingly by this administration. We ask that this administration provides:
• A modern in-house respite facility to replace the service provision closed at Heatherway and the failed outsourcing of respite care which was supposed to replace it
• A completely refurbished facility at Toldene for those residents who haven't had a functioning bathroom or kitchen for 8 months
• Domiciliary care and support services that are fit for purpose and don't leave residents with safeguarding issues
• A cross-party Member Inspection Panel to visit all council run facilities and ensure they are providing services that are fit for purpose.
Madam Mayor invited Councillor Hopley to propose the motion.
Councillor Hopley expressed her concern about the worrying state of affairs brought to her attention by residents of some of the Council’s care facilities. These were some of the Council’s most vulnerable residents some of whom were completely reliant on care. The Council was asked to immediately address the loss of provision with the closure of the Heatherway facility. Similarly, the Council was requested to address conditions at the Toldene home. This was Council run and had no disabled bath or kitchen facilities for eight months. Councillor Hopley requested an explanation as to why this situation had been left unaddressed for so long and emphasised that the facility must be fit for purpose. The lack of heating and hot water at Freeman Court was also raised. It was reported that residents were sitting wearing heavy winter jackets inside the home. Residents at this facility also had no disabled access to the gardens and these were overgrown. Councillor Hopley asked to understand why these homes were not being monitored. It was also stressed that residents were to be penalised further with Meals on Wheels being taken away and charges about to be levied for other services. Councillor Hopley called for a cross party inspection panel to look further into these matters.
Councillor Streeter seconded the motion and reserved his right to speak.
Councillor Avis was invited by Madam Mayor to speak and opposed the motion. She emphasised the Labour Party’s opposition in 2011 to the privatisation of these facilities to Care UK and that the Administration was looking to take this provision back in house. Heatherway had been closed because it was not fit for purpose. Structural underfunding was highlighted along with the impact of the Government’s austerity policy and the further exacerbation of Brexit. The Administration’s ability to provide successful facilities was highlighted with the awarding of Dementia Friendly status, the development of the Cherry Hub, Fieldway, Croydon Solutions, and Calleydown referenced.
Madam Mayor called on Councillor Campbell to speak who highlighted that since being elected last May she has seen up close the work of staff and officers to overcome poverty and crime caused by the Government’s policies. Councillor Campbell had attended resident visits, multiagency meetings, safeguarding meetings and those of the life team which was aimed at stopping hospital returns. She commended the hard work of dedicated officers.
Councillor Streeter then exercised his right to speak emphasising that the motion was raising some serious issues. It was trying to protect vulnerable residents. Councillor Streeter accused the Administration, through its opposition to the motion, of abdicating its responsibility and seeking to distract from local failure. The consultation on plans to raise charges on vulnerable residents was stressed. Whilst the need to balance books was understood this had to be the wrong decision especially when the Council had managed to find funding for an arts programme that had been judged by many to have been indecent. Councillor Streeter called on backbenchers to use their influence to stop charges being placed on vulnerable residents.
The motion was put to the vote and fell.