Thursday, May 22, 2008

Full Council: Hilly Fields Footpaths Petition, London Living Wage and Affordable Housing

Fun and games as always at Full Council tonight, with the usual hefty dose of political point scoring despite a fair degree of consensus on the issues being discussed. In brief:

1. Mike (pictured) presented a petition signed by 272 local residents and park users concerned at the poor state of the footpaths in Hilly Fields. The resurfacing of the cycle path across Hilly Fields recently is welcome, but it throws into even sharper relief the sorry state of the other paths in the park, which are in places treacherous for cyclists, wheelchair users and walkers alike. Well done to Hilly Fields Users Group who organised the petition.

2. I asked a number of questions to Mayor and Cabinet on planning enforcement, community composting schemes, air quality monitoring and the possibility of a safety audit to look at the implications of removing the railings on Ladywell Road. The full questions and answers can be viewed here.

3. Ute proposed a motion calling on the Council to ensure it paid all its staff at least London Living Wage (£7.20/hour) and to ensure that its contractors (eg cleaners, catering staff) did likewise. This is less of an issue for those directly employed by the Council, who currently all receive at least this rate (only just in some cases), but more so for those employed by contractors. The motion received cross-party support, and the Mayor indicated that as contracts come up for renewal, it would be stipulated going forward that staff should be paid at least London Living Wage.

There was a bit of argy bargy over whether it was Ken or the Greens who were responsible for the London Living Wage Unit at City Hall (I think it was a Green budget amendment supported by Ken in order to get Green support for his budget), plus a funny moment when the Tories said they would support it because they hadn't heard the Mayor of London say he was opposed to it (never mind what they themselves think, hey?). Anyway, the motion was passed, which was good news and sends a clear signal that Lewisham Council is going to outlaw poverty pay among all those working for the Council, whether directly or via a contractor.

4. There was also cross-party support for a Labour motion calling for the affordable housing quota in the forthcoming Local Development Framework to be increased to 50%. Again, this was welcome news and something the Green Group has consistently called for, including in our submission to the LDF consultation last August. At that point officers argued that it wasn't feasible, so we are glad that the borough's position on this has changed.

It is of course slightly ironic that Lewisham is now supporting a 50% affordable housing quota when it previously wanted to stick at 35% and was in dispute with the previous Mayor of London over this. Now we have a Tory Mayor of London who wants to scrap the affordable housing quota, the Labour Mayor of Lewisham suddenly supports it. Welcome news, nevertheless. The Tories opposed this motion, on the grounds that Boris had made his opposition to affordable housing quotas clear.

There was some hoo-hah over a Lib Dem amendment and motion pointing out the number of planning applications in Lewisham that have failed to meet even the existing 35% quota, but once the main motion was passed (the amendment fell), the Lib Dems withdrew their second motion.

So, two good motions passed, then lots of councillors went to watch some football match or other in Moscow apparently.

1 comment:

Brian Robson said...


I'm not totally convinced about how the Council proposes to acheive 50% - it's partly by reducing the total number of units.

I've tried to explain this (better than I did last night!) here: