AMONG THE QUESTIONS AT NEXT WEEK’S LAMBETH COUNCIL MEETING….Rodents on Central Hill estate, Cherry Tree nursery – and Halal meat

Questions at next week’s full Lambeth council meeting include the following (If you want to know the answers now, they can be found by going to Lambeth.gov meetings calendar – Wednesday 22nd – and searching agenda item 8 ‘Questions from Councillors’ – Ed.)

9. Cllr Pete Elliott (Green, Gipsy Hill)

To: Cllr Paul Gadsby, Cabinet Member for Housing

Rodents on Central Hill Estate

Residents have been complaining about the rodents on the Central Hill Estate for years and victims of Lambeth’s Temporary Accommodation system have been asked to move into empty homes on the estate that are clearly already occupied by rodents. As an example, residents in one block have been moved into an ’empty’ home with droppings on the floor and have had their young child wake up screaming with a mouse running over their face, another resident has found droppings in their bed! Others have given up complaining to the council as they know nothing will be done!

Can the council urgently address the problem by the end of January and if they can’t, then can they stop taking rent from all affected residences until the situation is sorted?

1. Cllr Jonathan Bartley (Green)

To: Cllr Claire Holland, Deputy Leader (Environment and Clean Air)

Carbon budget

One year after Lambeth Council declared a climate emergency there is still little evidence of the radical changes required in key areas such as energy, housing, transport and waste management. To help push action on the climate forward, can the council set a carbon budget for each of the 10 years to 2030 by which time we have agreed to be carbon neutral? The budget target needs to be bold and progressive and based on the needs of our planet and not just conservative unambitious targets. What does the council suggest as a budget and could the management of a carbon budget be handled in a similar way that the council manages its financial controls?

2. Cllr Tim Briggs (Con, Clapham Common)

To: Councillor Jacqui Dyer and Councillor Mohammed Seedat, Cabinet Member for Jobs, Skills and Community Safety (job share)

Since Sadiq Khan took office as Mayor and Police and Crime Commissioner for London, there has been a 24% rise in homicides, reaching its peak in 2018 as 135 people were murdered, the highest number for 10 years. Since 2015-16, knife crime has rocketed by 52%, robbery has soared by 59%, and residential burglary has increased by 37%. Lambeth has been at the centre of this trend. When Boris Johnson was London Mayor and Police and Crime Commissioner, crime was reduced sharply and the murder rate was halved, despite having £2.6 billion less in his budget than the current Mayor.

In March 2019, the Mayor rejected the plan proposed by Shaun Bailey and the London Assembly Conservatives to divert £83 million of funding in order to put an extra 1,378 police officers on the streets of London, instead deciding to charge Londoners more council tax, and to continue spending his increased income on PR for himself, extra staff, beach parties and other waste.

Labour councillors in Lambeth have refused to condemn the Mayor’s failure to protect our children most at risk, a disproportionate number of whom are young and black, and live in Lambeth.

Can one of the two Cabinet Members for Community Safety tell us in detail what pressure they are exerting on the Mayor, in both a formal and an informal capacity, for him to start using his budget effectively, before more of our children die?

10. Cllr Jon Davies (Lab)

To: Cllr Matthew Bennett, Cabinet Member for Planning, Investment and New Homes

Improving member and community involvement in major planning applications

What actions are proposed to improve member and community involvement in major planning applications?

19. Cllr Anna Birley (Lab)

To: Cllr Jennifer Brathwaite, deputy leader (Children and Young People)

Community Nursery

Since the closure of Cherry Tree nursery by the Great North Wood Academy Trust, we have been working with parents in West Norwood to develop detailed proposals for a community nursery, owned by parents, run democratically for the benefit of the community, and ensuring an affordable childcare option in the area. Does the cabinet member support these plans and could she provide an update on how the parents’ proposals are being progressed?

Lambeth council’s rules allow members of the main party to put questions to the leader of the opposition. There’s just one at next week’s meeting- and we’re also publishing the answer…..

6. Cllr Danny Adilypour (Lab)

To: Cllr Jonathan Bartley, Leader of the Opposition

Apology regarding statement on halal meat

During the general election campaign Cllr Bartley caused widespread alarm and fear in Muslim communities by using his national platform on BBC Radio 5 Live to call for a ban on halal meat to an audience of millions of people. Will Cllr Bartley now take this opportunity to confirm his position and apologise on the public record in Lambeth, for the benefit of the many members of our local Muslim communities?

Answer:

I am not sure that Councillor Adilypour has actually listened to the interview he refers to as I made no such call. I would ask Cllr Adilypour to please be more careful in the public accusations that he makes.

I am more than happy to confirm my position. I am a vegan, a philosophy that is protected under the Equality Act 2010. I am concerned about the suffering inflicted during any slaughter of un-stunned animals, which was the subject of the question that I was asked during the interview, with specific reference to a RSPCA report on the subject. As I said in the interview, I agree with the RSPCA position which is opposition to the slaughter of any animal without first ensuring it is rendered insensible to pain and distress. I recognise that the majority of Halal slaughter involves pre-stunning and I support the Green Party’s position which is to protect the rights of religious expression, including Halal slaughter, while also engaging with religious and non-religious communities on issues of animal welfare.

I made an apology on the record, immediately after the interview, for my failure to communicate my views sufficiently well, and particularly not to have challenged the premise behind what was a very specific question about Halal meat. At a time of heightened Islamophobia, I believe we all have a responsibility to challenge prejudice and I stand in solidarity with Muslims and all people who face racism, aggression, and marginalisation.

I wrote to the Muslim Council of Great Britain and I received a very gracious response. They highlighted the increasing number of Muslims concerned about the ways in which animals in the UK, though meeting the legal minimum for Halal Law, are often reared and killed in ways which are not aligned with the traditional teachings of Islam. They have offered to facilitate a meeting between myself, Muslim elected members of the Green Party, and the Halal Monitoring Committee (HMC) to discuss the principles and process of Halal meat and broader issues affecting Muslim communities, and for the MCB to better understand the Green Party’s policies and work in this area. I am looking forward to taking them up on this kind offer, and also engaging with Muslims in Lambeth on the subject.

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