…AND THEN REOPENED BEHIND CLOSED DOORS
The Mayor Cllr Marcia Cameron opened the adjourned meeting. “Due to the public disturbance we’ve excluded members of the public however the press are here present with us this evening.”
The Mayor outlined what had been discussed at cabinet – the specifications of the redress scheme, representations from councillors and SOSA who said they felt unable to endorse the scheme.
“Cabinet has heard the scheme has received positive comments from both the NSPCC and the London Victims Commissioner” the Mayor added. (If this was said at cabinet, this reporter didn’t hear it.)
Green party Cllr Scott Ainslie said the scheme was not fit for purpose. “The survivors have no faith in it. “I have no faith it will provide redress or confidence or will deliver the value for money claimed.
“The council have steadfastly refused to listen to their demands and deny them justice – which they are entitled to and where their option then is to take them through the courtsd at great costs to lambeth’s ratepayers and Lambeth council’s reputation. “I cannot support this. “I’m sorry.”
Conservative opposition leader Cllr Tim Briggs told the meeting: “If the independent national Inquiry into child sex abuse was not taking place, the opposition Conservative councillors would be calling for a comprehensive and independent inquiry to be set up to investigate the culture and institutional failings at Lambeth council.
“Abuse happened at other councils, but so many children in Lambeth were abused for such a long time, decades. Yet no-one who knew said anything. “Or if people that knew said something, why were those people were not listened to?
“A few weeks ago we learned that six months of complaints from parents of children in Lambeth’s care were lost – a year ago.”
Cllr Louise Nathanson (Cons) said the national Yewtree criminal inquiry into child abuse would be looking at Lambeth in 2019. “It’s later than we thought. “Having put aside £100 million I do wonder when we look ahead to 2019 we will be adding to that amount.”
Cllr Imogen Walker, deputy leader and cabinet member for finance, said they would continue to press the Government to fund the scheme directly. Cllr Andy Wilson (Lab) said the scheme would deliver for survivors. “Sadly there’s little prospect of a national scheme being established” he added.
Editor’s note: Last night was the first time (in all the years I’ve covered eight different London boroughs for local newspapers and more latterly writing this website) that I have actually been at any council or council committee meeting which was adjourned and then re-opened behind closed doors.
A Lambeth Green party activist present at the meeting asked me to find out if it had re-started elsewhere. I asked a suited security guard if they were holding the meeting and was told ‘No’. A few minutes later the same security guard beckoned me over. “The chief executive wants to see you” I was told. Out to the back room – past three police in uniform – and the full council meeting was about to re-start.
And – irony of ironies – on the wall behind where the Mayor sat was a rather good painting…of cricket fan and former Lambeth Conservative councillor John Major.
I understand an opposition councillor insisted on my presence. They know who they are. A huge thank you to them. ‘Democracy’, in all its forms, must be seen to be done.
CLLR TIM BRIGGS: WHY WE BACKED THE £100 MILLION OPTION
Conservative opposition leader Cllr Tim Briggs has told why he and his fellow Conservative councillors supported the motion approved at the ‘behind closed doors’ council meeting.
“The ndependent assessor is going to say ‘You are still providing the material for the assessor. “There’s still someone who has to prepare the case to give it to the assessor.
“That’s the issue. “You can’t have an independent assessor who is doing the work. “You can have an independent panel and if someone wants to take it to appeal they can analyse it.
“As I understand it if they feel the compensation offered is not in line with what they should get an independent assessment panel make a judgement as to whether it’s a correct judgement.
“We were presented with a choice between £100 million of borrowed money being given to the victims or victims going to court and suffering the trauma of going to court. “My councillors thought the £100 million was a better deal.”