Agenda item

Councillor Question Time

14.1    Urgent Questions (Part 4 - Paragraph 9.2.(b) of Constitution – Page 4-9)


With the permission of the Mayor, questions on urgent issues may be tabled with the proviso of a subsequent written response if the issue requires research or is considered by the Mayor to be minor.


Please note that the Mayor will decide whether a question is urgent or not.


The definition of an urgent question is “An issue which could not reasonably have been foreseen or anticipated prior to the deadline for the submission of questions and which needs to be considered before the next meeting of the Council.”


Submission of urgent questions to Council requires the Member when submitting the question to specify why the issue could not have been reasonably foreseen prior to the deadline and why it has to be considered before the next meeting. 


14.2    Councillors’ Questions (Part 4 – Paragraph 9.2(a) of Constitution – Page 4 - 8)


Please note that the list of questions and their written responses will be published on Tuesday 21 November 2017. 


1.               Urgent Questions


The Mayor reported that she had received one question after the ordinary deadline for the receipt of questions for Council.  On the advice of the Monitoring Officer, the Mayor had determined that the question did not meet the Council’s urgency provisions and could therefore wait to be considered at the next Council meeting. 


2.               Questions by Councillors




1.               The thirty nine questions on the Council agenda and the written responses provided by the relevant Cabinet Members.


2.               The following supplementary questions and responses received for the questions listed below:


Question 1 (Money Spent on Artificial Intelligence) from Councillor Laban to Councillor Lemonides, Cabinet Member for Finance and Efficiency


Councillor Laban thanked Councillor Lemonides for his question and asked when we could expect Amelia to be alive? 


Reply from Councillor Lemonides


Councillor Lemonides replied that the money spent so far was initial expenditure, the start of a long journey, a process of modernisation and transformation.  Work was ongoing.  When it was fully implemented it would be appraised and a cost benefit analysis would be carried out. 


Question 2 (Government’s Budget Statement) from Councillor Abdullahi to Councillor Taylor, Leader of the Council


Councillor Abdullahi asked for Councillor Taylor’s view on the budget? 


Reply from Councillor Taylor


Councillor Taylor responded by saying that what the budget demonstrated, was what the Labour administration has been saying since 2010, that this was a Government that had hard wired austerity into its fiscal policy and created disaster for the country.  He felt that there was nothing of any real worth for local government, nothing on social care, but there was £3 billion for BREXIT. 


George Osbourne, when Chancellor of the Exchequer, had been going to eliminate the deficit, by 2020.  Last year the deficit was £24.4 billion and this year it has risen by a further £4 billion.  The impact of this on Enfield would be that house prices would rise, wages in public sector would stagnate and prospects for growth would be downgraded.  Prices are increasing. The future for residents of the borough is bleak.  They will have to work longer and get paid less.  Although the Chancellor has said that there is no unemployment, which is good.  The only good news is that this is another nail in the coffin of the Government.   


Question 3 (Parsonage Lane Housing Improvement Scheme) from Councillor Laban to Councillor Oykener, Cabinet Member for Housing and Housing Regeneration


Councillor Laban asked as the question suggests we approach the 80th week of a projected 23 week housing scheme, which many residents have had enough of.  She said that there had been talk about the charges leaseholder’s will face and that this will be an increase on 3 months ago.  In the light of the fact that we have put financial penalties on United Living, she asked for a commitment, from the Cabinet Member, that the leaseholder charges when they get sent out will be final, as there have been discrepancies and different amounts have been paid out.   They have already been put through a lot. 


Reply from Councillor Oykener


Councillor Oykener said that he can only repeat the answer to the original question.  There will be no further charges on leaseholders except what has already been agreed, nothing more as a result of the delays. 


Question 4 (Racing on the A10 and A406) from Councillor Pite to Councillor Anderson, Cabinet Member for Environment


Council Pite thanked Councillor Anderson for his response but asked why it is only now that Transport for London was taking action against the racers on the A10?  


Reply from Councillor Anderson:


Councillor Anderson replied that speeding and car cruising along A10 had been a long standing problem and both the police and Transport for London have failed to take action in the past.  The recent change of attitude was the result of persistent and effective campaigning from Councillor Pite, himself and Joan Ryan MP.  They had managed to argue in favour of reasons for action.  He said that they had been able to bring clear evidence to show that the number of collisions on A10 had increased since the sackings of cameras, including 6 collisions this year, where people have been killed or seriously injured.  Thankfully, he said, we have managed to get them to take action and that he felt was effective campaigning.


Question 5 (Parsonage Lane Maisonettes) from Councillor Laban to Councillor Oykener, Cabinet Member for Housing and Housing Regeneration


Councillor Laban said that currently snagging works were still being carried out, the Heath Close door entry system did not work on and there was still lots to do on Parsonage Lane.  She asked if we could believe that United Living would complete the work by Christmas, because previously what United Living had said was very different from reality.   She asked if the Cabinet Member had any other confirmation that United Living would be off the site by Christmas.   


Reply from Councillor Oykener


Councillor Oykener replied that the answer is as he had said in the original question.  At the end of any major works programme there was likely to be snagging work, there were improvements to make and that was what was happening.  All he could say was that it was his belief that the works would be completed by Christmas.


Question 6 (Meridian Water – Negotiations with the Master Developer) from Councillor Ekechi to Councillor Sitkin, Cabinet Member for Economic Regeneration and Business Development


Councillor Ekechi thanked Councillor Sitkin for his response and asked if he could confirm the level of market confidence in the Meridian Water project. 


Reply from Councillor Sitkin


Councillor Sitkin replied that he could confirm that there was an enormous level of market confidence in Meridian Water.  The Council were currently fending off approaches, because they were currently engaged in a process of negotiation with PCPD and doing everything in their power to make that deal.


The truth was very different from the letter that Councillor Smith had put in the Enfield Independent about a week and a half ago which led to a very inaccurate article in that paper.  He felt that it was contrary to the interests of the Council for the Conservative Party to express doubt about the future of Meridian Water.  He was respectful of the fact that Councillor Smith was not at the meeting because of a family issue, but felt that it would be good if Councillor Smith could apologise for putting this misleading information in the press.  He was however aware that it would be rectified. 


Question 8 (World Mental Health Day) from Councillor Barry to Councillor A Cazimoglu, Cabinet Member for Health and Social Care


Councillor Barry asked if the Cabinet Member could inform her about what changes had been made to support mental health service users. 


Reply from Councillor A Cazimoglu


Councillor Cazimoglu responded saying that the local authority was delivering for mental health users, unlike government.  She said that the Council had a joint tender with Haringey to support those with mental health issues and to provide sustained and meaningful support for safeguarding.  A lot of work had been done.  The Council would also be tendering the independent mental health advocacy service and with the Enfield Clinical Commissioning Group will be tendering for a dual diagnosis service for substance misuse. 


Question 9 (Thames Water, Sewerage and Water Charges) from Councillor Neville to Councillor Oykener, Cabinet Member for Housing and Housing Regeneration


Councillor Neville said that he was not clear what Councillor Oykener saying.  If he was referring to selling services this was not what he thought the Southwark case was about. He thought that it was about Councils acting as agents and keeping the global savings.


Reply from Councillor Anderson


Councillor Oykener felt that the question had been answered and that it was quite clear.  The answer was based on the outcome of the Southwark case.  People would be dealt with when they approach the Council on an individual basis, case by case. 


Question 11 (Contractor Payments for the A105 Scheme) from Councillor Neville to Councillor Anderson, Cabinet Member for Environment


Councillor Neville thanked Councillor Anderson for his response but said that total expenditure had reached £7.9 million and the Council needed to know if he was not shocked that we had already have reached the point that Cabinet was told would be the estimated cost of this particular part of the project.  He felt that the fact that we know that we have £42 million this contract was irrelevant.  This part of the scheme was for a specific sum.  He wanted to know whether Councillor Anderson was satisfied that the Council was not going to overspend the part of the budget approved for this project. 


Reply from Councillor Anderson


Councillor Anderson responded that he was satisfied.  He said that this was a very large construction project and a lot of the initial costings had been carried out before the detailed design had been completed. The entire scheme had been fully costed and there was a detailed business plan which ensured that the entire scheme would be delivered, as would every other scheme, as tendered. 


Councillor Anderson was not concerned.  He was aware that there was a rigorous review process in place which was ongoing to make sure that the programme does deliver.  He reassured Councillor Neville that the entire project was funded by external funds, primarily provided by the Mayor of London and Transport for London.  He felt that the A105 scheme should be a cause for celebration. 


Question 12 (Enfield Schools Physical Education Provision) from Councillor Lappage to Councillor Orhan, Cabinet Member for Education, Children’s Services and Protection


Councillor Lappage congratulated all schools on their achievements.  


Question 13 (Width of Cycle Lane on Winchmore Hill Broadway) from Councillor Neville to Councillor Anderson


Councillor Neville said that there seemed to be a contradiction between saying that there will be changes to the final design and Councillor Anderson’s response to the particular point about what has happened along this parade.  He felt that if Councillor Anderson had known that the design was faulty from the beginning why had he allowed them to get on with the work, only to have it all ripped up again at further cost and further disruption to the residents, shoppers and businesses. 


Reply from Councillor Anderson


Councillor Anderson replied that once again Councillor Neville was he felt  putting forward the old arguments but that what he was not understanding was that the there was a contingency fund built into the programme to enable the programme to be reviewed as it went along and in order to make amendments as necessary.  He had no qualms about making amendments to meet the needs of the residents as appropriate and he thought that the amendments made were correct and appropriate. 


Question 14 (Difficulties arising from School Funding) from Councillor Barry to Councillor Orhan, Cabinet Member for Education, Children’s Services and Protection


Councillor Barry thanked Councillor Orhan for her response and asked if there had been any increased funding for Enfield schools in the budget.


Reply from Councillor Orhan


Councillor Orhan responded that unfortunately there had not been any increase in funding and although she had been hoping for a u-turn, she had not received one.  The budget announcement, on the new funding formula, had not covered the shortfall in the budget for Enfield schools. 


Councillor Orhan said that she thought that the schools would continue to suffer and although they would continue to try and look at innovative ways of reducing their budgets, to educate their children, this was becoming increasingly challenging.  Eventually she felt that they would be left with nothing.  Core funding had also not been increased and was being systematically reduced.  The Chancellor had not addressed this either. She felt that the Government was not listening. 


Question 15 (Compensation for Businesses along the A105 Cycle Route) from Councillor Neville to Councillor Anderson, Cabinet Member for Environment


Councillor Neville thanked Councillor Anderson for his answer and said that he was fully aware of the valuation.  But the reality was that a 10% rate reduction was, in his opinion, a pittance when compared with the proven loses that have been suffered by some of the businesses along this route.  He felt that the Council had the power and the money to compensate and should do so.  It should come from the £42 million.  He asked if Councillor Anderson agreed with what he had said. 


Reply from Councillor Anderson


Councillor Anderson replied that it was like Ground Hog day.  Councillor Neville looked on the gloomy side.  He felt that there was a new business confidence along the A105 route, with new businesses opening up, including the Little Green Dragon micro pub, a new co-op in Palmers Green, a new sports shop in Bush Hill Park parade, a barbers in Palmers Green and a new Tapas Bar that was due to open soon.  Many businesses believed that the cycle route was not a hindrance but something that showed confidence in the area. 

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