To debate any motions submitted in accordance with Council Procedure Rules.
The Mayor requested the Chief Executive read the first Council Debate Motion made on behalf of the Administration:
“October 2019 marks 25 years since the FAIRTRADE Mark was launched in the UK.
Croydon was the first London Borough to obtain Fairtrade status in 2003, and has renewed it ever since. Today, Croydon Council is proud to renew its Fairtrade status, and agrees to an annual programme and review of Fairtrade activity, to include:
· Actively promoting Fairtrade locally, through support for local groups, in the media including social media, and events, including during Fairtrade Fortnight.
· Supporting local Fairtrade Schools and Universities, and actively promote Fairtrade teaching materials in local schools, and educational institutions
· Promoting Fairtrade in Council sponsored Youth Centres and Cultural venues.
· Celebrating and incentivising businesses championing Fairtrade products in the local community.
· Continuing to promote Fairtrade as part of its procurement policy, including its catering offer.”
The Mayor invited Councillor Fraser to propose the motion.
Councillor Fraser stated Croydon had been the first Fairtrade borough, a status that had been held for 25 years. He emphasised that those communities benefitting from Fairtrade were all represented in the borough and that support for Fairtrade had been driven by consumer choice. Fairtrade was described as an internationalist socialist movement driven by local demand. Councillor Fraser highlighted how the Council was supporting the movement through procurement with examples given of the Clock Tower restaurant, Fairfield Halls and the borough’s schools. The Councillor described himself as being a proud Fairtrade champion.
Councillor Patsy Cummings seconded the motion and reserved the right to speak.
The Mayor invited Councillor Chatterjee to speak who recommended the motion describing it as a way of being kind to people you don’t meet. He called for platform signs in Croydon to acknowledge the borough’s Fairtrade status, described his experience of Fairtrade wine tasting and how the movement allowed for better bargaining power.
Councillor Streeter was invited to speak by the Mayor and described how he was proud to support the motion and that he was pleased both parties were standing together on the issue of Fairtrade. He gave thanks to the Churches for their early work on getting Fairtrade adopted and also acknowledged the work of past Prime Ministers Major, Blair and May who had promoted the movement.
Councillor Patsy Cummings exercised her right to speak and highlighted how Fairtrade had brought stability to production for many. It had allowed producers to learn about market conditions and trends and to take more control over their lives. The link between Fairtrade standards and action to address environmental damage along with better working conditions was stressed and how this was preventing the use of force and/or underage labour. It was noted that by buying Fairtrade support was being given for brothers and sisters around the world.
The motion was put to the vote and carried unanimously.
The Mayor requested the Chief Executive read the second Council Debate Motion made on behalf of the Opposition:
“This Council recognises the huge contribution made to education standards in the Borough by its academies and free schools, which complement and extend the offer made by its maintained and independent schools. It also recognises the very significant contribution made to Children's Services and school standards by Ofsted, which provides parents with impartial information about success or failure. This Council pledges its support for these education partners and welcomes the improvement in standards that these national initiatives have produced in our Borough”.
The Mayor invited Councillor Gatland to propose the motion. The Councillor highlighted the reassurance provided to parents by schools having a good Ofsted judgement or above. Additionally, the role of Ofsted in the improvement journey of the Council’s Children Services was stressed. It was noted that all Members wanted the very best for the children for which the Council had responsibility. Councillor Gatland stressed that it was right for the Ofsted inspection process to provide challenge to the service.
Councillor Creatura seconded the motion and reserved the right to speak.
The Mayor invited Councillor Shafi Khan to respond to the motion. It was highlighted that the motion failed to acknowledge the role of various partners, such as children, teachers, support staff, link advisers, in the improvement journey. It was suggested that the motion was mischievous especially as proposed during the pre-election period of heightened political sensitivity. High profile academy failures demonstrated the limitations of the school inspection regime and the potentially negative effect of Ofsted’s inspections on teacher mental health and wellbeing was raised.
The Mayor invited Councillor Alisa Flemming to respond to the motion. The Cabinet Member for Children, Young People & Learning highlighted that the Council meeting was being held during Black History Month which celebrated the diverse and vibrant community in Croydon. The Cabinet Member stressed the need for the education sector to reflect all of the Croydon community. However, as a black student you were more likely than your white peers to be excluded from school, a risk that increased with age. There was also a higher risk of leaving without qualifications. Councillor Flemming called for the mandatory teaching of black history and stressed the need for schools to be more tolerant and outward focused to reflect everyone and that all our children mattered. The Cabinet Member stated that it took a village to raise a child but that some of Croydon’s children were not valued by the village. It was explained that real social justice happens when the community can achieve for all. The Cabinet Member announced that Labour Group Members would be abstaining on the motion until it was possible to create an education system that could represent all children. Until this was achieved, it was not possible to say that the education system was fit for purpose.
Councillor Creatura exercised his right to speak and highlighted the contribution made by Academies and Free Schools. Also that there was a large number of children in the borough attending independent schools and how this offered choice to parents. The Special Education Needs and Disability offer delivered through the independent sector was stressed. It was emphasised that any attempt to curtail the independent sector would have a big impact on education in Croydon. Likewise, the Councillor highlighted that if it was decided to abolish Ofsted this would have a big impact on education. The motion praised Academies and Free Schools, independent schools and school inspections in addition to pledging support for education partners. Councillor Creatura called on the Council to send a strong message.
The motion was put to the vote and carried with all the Labour Group Members abstaining.