Please note this post is from my previous blog. To read my posts during the 2017 General Election campaign click here.
Despite everything else that’s going on, the business of government – and local government – continues. Or in our case, local opposition!
Here’s a quick preview of tonight’s June Full Council meeting at Woolwich Town Hall, which you can watch – should you be so inclined – online from 7pm and afterwards here. Here’s the agenda for the meeting.
Conservative councillors will be handing in several petitions on behalf of residents, on parking issues on Glenlea Road, Eltham and Kidbrooke Grove, Blackheath, the disruption on Eltham High Street and the proposed trial to leave parks unlocked overnight this summer.
On this final issue, we’ve just had the terrific news that thanks to the support of 384 petitioners in my ward, our local Fairy Hill and Southwood parks have been taken out of the trial due to anti-social behaviour concerns. Myself and my ward colleagues John Hills and Mandy Brinkhurst are grateful to Cllr Jackie Smith, the Cabinet Member responsible, for listening to the strength of local feeling (reported by the News Shopper here) and the arguments we put forward.
I’ll have the opportunity to thank Jackie tonight during Members’ Questions – in which I have questions to her on the evidence base for the decision to launch the trial, and the wider parks consultation on 3rd July. As I’ve written in my letter to the Mercury and News Shopper this week, it really is essential that residents give their views – here’s the link for anyone who hasn’t filled it in yet.
I’m also asking questions on where the nearly £600,000 of taxpayers money that has been spent per year on the now-axed Greenwich Time is going, the latest on the Silvertown Tunnel and Labour’s disappointing decision to scrap the mobile library. You can see all of my and Conservative colleagues’ questions (uploaded by the time the meeting starts) here.
Then we’ll be on to the main business of the meeting – business items are fairly light this month. There’s the report back of the council’s Audit & Risk Management Panel, and we’re voting on awarding the Freedom of the Borough to long-standing friend of Greenwich Frank Zemke, the chief executive of twinned Reinickindorf Council in Germany.
The bulk of tonight’s fun and games will be the three motions up for debate- one from Labour, and two from us. The debate on Labour’s motion on Academies should be a stormy one – Cllr Mark Elliot and I will be seeking to amend it with a less ideological, more forward-looking approach to the changing education landscape that is being put in place by our Conservative friends in Southend. Expect the usual partisan and ideological attacks from Cabinet members – at least we know that whatever happens in the vote tonight and whatever Labour councillors tell the NUT, the council is still going to be supporting schools to convert behind-the-scenes…
By far the most pressing, to us, part of the meeting will be the Conservative Group’s motion, which accompanies the Help Eltham High Street petition being handed in by High Street councillors Spencer Drury and Matt Clare, proposing a package of measures to support businesses through the current improvement works. Many businesses are seeing huge falls in takings due to the disruption and we hope Labour councillors won’t play political games with this one, and actually do something to help. You can read about this in the News Shopper and Mercury this week.
Finally, my colleague Cllr Nuala Geary and I will be proposing a package of measures to boost the availability of free cash withdrawals in Greenwich. Our research shows that there are 126 cash machines in and on the edge of the Royal Borough, of which 65 charge (34%), with most charging between £1.49 and £1.99. For people on the lowest incomes, for whom cash is often an important budgeting tool, these charges represent a big problem – particularly in the three big areas we have identified as free cash
‘desserts’ ”deserts’ (in Woolwich, Thamesmead and Shooters Hill). Labour councillors have indicated they will give a version of our proposal their support on this anti-poverty priority – and so we should (should….) end the meeting on a bipartisan note.
UPDATE: Paul Chapman of Greenwich Lib Dems gets in touch to point out this blog had outlined our motion on free cash ‘desserts’, so this has been duly corrected above. The problem of free cash desserts will have to wait for another meeting.