To debate any motions submitted in accordance with Council Procedure Rules.
The item began with the Administration motion which read:
“Croydon's Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children (UASC) are underfunded by national government by £7m annually. This council calls on the Home Secretary to urgently address this crisis”.
Councillor Flemming proposed the motion highlighting that the Council had worked hard to ensure UASC received the support they deserved and that it was important to remember that they were children. It was also advised that the commitment of Council staff in supporting these young people should also be recognised as a reflection that Croydon was a borough that cared and was a home to equality and diversity. The intention of the motion was not an indication that the Council did not want to support UASC, but to make a request for the right level of funding as it currently cost significantly more to support UASC than the Council was awarded.
Councillor Patsy Cummings seconded the motion and reserved her right to speak.
Councillor Tim Pollard echoed the thanks given to Council staff for their work with UASC. It was highlighted that the underfunding of support for UASC was a long standing issue for the borough and although the Government recognised Croydon’s special status as a gateway council, the funding provided was still too low. As such it was important that Councillors from across the Council worked together to ensure that the right message was given to Government Ministers on the issue.
Councillor Gatland also highlighted the positive contribution the Council had made to UASC, but acknowledged that there was still a considerable financial cost for gateway councils such as Croydon, with underfunding being a long term issue. It was highlighted that the Audit Commission had recommended for a number of years that a robust system of monitoring the funding for the service and a focus on the outcomes was needed. Concern was also raised about the impact the halt of the national transfer scheme would have upon children awaiting placement.
Councillor Patsy Cummings noted that it was pleasing to have cross party support in lobbying central Government on this issue, as it was acknowledged that having the Home Office in Croydon meant that there were a higher level of UASC than in other areas.
The motion was put to the vote and carried unanimously.
The Mayor then moved to the opposition motion which read:
“This Council is completely committed to increasing recycling but believes the latest proposal to move most households to having between three and five wheelie bins per property will not significantly increase recycling and will massively inconvenience residents who will have to store them. Instead of imposing unnecessary extra bins on residents who already recycle responsibly, the council should instead target those residents who don’t use the current system correctly and don’t separate their waste”.
Councillor Bains moving the motion, stated that there was no argument about the need to recycle more, but a major factor against this was many people not separating their waste properly and littering. Rather than introducing new bins, as an alternative it was proposed that a campaign to educate residents on how to recycle correctly should be used as a means to increase recycling rates. In addition improved monitoring should be used to indicate where waste was not being recycled correctly and using already available sanctions. In following this course of action it would present a more cost effective approach than introducing new bins across the borough.
Councillor Brew seconded the motion and reserved his right to speak.
Councillor Collins stated that it was his view that the motion lacked ambition and mirrored the national Government’s own lack of ambition on environmental improvements. Croydon Council was committed to playing its part in preserving the environment and through reducing the capacity of landfill bins it would drive recycling rates above the level of 38%. The new scheme would save the Council £5m per year, with the possibility of further savings from reduced landfill costs.
In addition to the new bins, the Council was visiting schools across the district to educate young people on the need to recycle as well as planning further awareness raising campaigns. In comparison to the present system, the new bins would only be 22.5 inches bigger, but if residents had concerns about the changes, a dedicated email address and phone line had been set up to listen to views.
Councillor Degrads also stated that in her view the motion displayed a lack of ambition. Croydon had an ambition to be the greenest borough and to have a balanced biodiversity and as such it would not be acceptable to not take significant action to achieve this aim. It was also highlighted that the most residents shared a willingness to increase recycling rates.
Councillor Brew raised concern that the leaflet distributed to inform residents about the new scheme did not address the complications created by the varying topography in the borough. Concern was also raised about the lack of consultation on the new scheme and a perceived level of confusion about the colour of bags and bins to be used.
The Mayor put the motion to the vote and it fell.