To debate any motions submitted in accordance with Council Procedure Rules.
The Mayor began the item with the first debate motion, submitted by the majority group, which read as follows:
“Croydon is home to a large population from the Windrush Generation. It is also home to long established institutions set up by the Windrush Generation to self-help their settlement in the UK, not least Croydon Caribbean Credit Union, which is the oldest credit union in the country, and Croydon African Caribbean Family Association. We also have many residents who are members of national organisations such as the Nurses Association of Jamaica UK and the Association of Jamaicans UK Trust which have branches in Croydon.
On 22 June 2018, Croydon Council became the first local authority in the country to establish and celebrate an annual Windrush Day in recognition of the rich diversity Commonwealth Citizens have brought to the Borough.
Croydon Council is mortified by the Hostile Environment inspired by Conservative Central Government that has led to detentions, deportations and other restrictions being applied to some British Citizens of the Windrush Generation, coupled with adverse financial and emotional impacts for those affected.
Croydon Council resolves to:
· call upon Conservative Central Government not to cap compensation amounts payable to victims of the Hostile Environment under its compensation scheme or to apply confidentiality agreements, time limits and other arbitrary restrictions,
· support the call for fees for naturalisation to be waived for all who have been affected,
· oppose the criminalisation of Windrush families under the Hostile Environment,
· demand that the Government fully supports advice agencies in their work to achieve justice for all those affected, in Croydon and elsewhere,
· continue to review our own policies and procedures to ensure that we support those affected, and
· press the Prime Minister to call for an independent public inquiry into the Windrush scandal”.
Councillor Patsy Cummings, moving the motion, stated that although the Council did not have full figures, Croydon was believed to be the home to hundreds of members of the Windrush Generation from countries across the globe. Members of the Windrush Generation had made contributions to the country and the borough with their children going on to do the same. Croydon was proud be the only Councito raise a Windrush flag on its seventieth anniversary on 22 June 2018. There were many people that had been deported and had not been contacted by the Windrush Taskforce. The Government should have a compensation scheme that would recognise and value all emotional and monetary loss in addition to the impact of the Government’s policy on family life. Compensation should be determined on an individual, case-by-case basis. The introduction of a capped or partial compensation scheme questioned the value, the merit and the transparency of Government apologies and undermined the commitment to resolve this issue. This Government had shown a refusal to acknowledge the effect on individuals and families who had been traumatised as a result of the scandal and ongoing hostile environment.
Councillor Patsy Cummings took the opportunity to reiterate recognition offered for the work of Croydon’s own Windrush Generation members. The late Gee Bernard, Croydon’s first black female Councillor, was commended as a previous Windrush Champion. The work of Patrick Vernon OBE was also commended as he had supported the community to raise issues for many years.
Councillor Young seconded the motion and reserved his right to speak.
Councillor Oviri stated that her parents had arrived in the UK in the 1960s and 1970s from Nigeria. They were not referenced as from the Windrush Generation as this was a term reserved for use in connection with those from Caribbean countries. However, her parents had experienced the same treatment. Her father recounted his early years in London where he had not received the welcome he had expected. He found it difficult to work and live. Since learning about the Windrush Generation it was disturbing to note that this was an issue for all colours. The Prime Minister had reassured the community of the Windrush Generation’s right to stay in the UK. Further reassurance was given that no one with the right to remain in the UK would be made to leave. Some people from the Windrush Generation had been let down by the immigration system. The Government needed to do things right including the compensation scheme and continuing to help those who wished to retire to their country of origin. Councillor Oviri supported the motion.
Councillor Tim Pollard stated that the Government was doing a lot to make things right. For example, through the compensation scheme and by ensuring it was easier to evidence right to stay. The Council welcomed the people of the Windrush Generation who had built a life here and acknowledged the significant contribution they had made to the country. This was an important issue. It was important to look at and remedy the harm done. Councillor Pollard highlighted his support for the motion including supporting that the fees for naturalisation be waved.
Councillor Young, seconding the motion, stated that it had been made to support the ongoing nationwide fight for justice. The number of Windrush victims was growing and their stories were painful to hear, from illegal detention to deportation, family separation, job losses, withdrawal of state benefits, zero access to medical treatment and homelessness. A Parliamentary Report by the Joint Committee on Human Rights concluded that the Home Office required standards of proof from many members of the Windrush Generation of their leave to remain which was impossible to provide. The Report highlighted that detention powers were used unlawfully and inappropriately by the Home Office and that the Home Office had not acted on its mistakes. The whole process had proved to be a barrier to justice. The motion was important as it called for the Government not to place a cap on the compensation offered, not to apply confidentiality agreements and to hold an independent public enquiry into the scandal. Councillor Young commended the motion.
The motion was put to the vote and carried.
The Mayor then moved the item to the second debate motion, submitted by the opposition, which read as follows:
“This Council needs to do more to protect its most vulnerable residents - and apologise to all those it has let down to date”.
Councillor Creatura, moving the motion, stated that there were numerous examples of the administration failing Croydon residents. Since 2014, the Labour Council had not completed the building of a single affordable home, leaving many on the housing list; bin collections for elderly residents had been left for weeks; health visitors had high caseloads making support for families difficult to provide; Ofsted had shamed Croydon’s Children’s Social Care and revealed recently that the Council was still suffering with drift and delay. The lack of support for adults with complex needs had been evidenced when the Council had to pay a family thousands of pounds in compensation. There had been a mass of complaints made by vulnerable residents who had felt let down. The motion requested that more would be done to protect the vulnerable and apologise to those let down to date.
Councillor Hoar seconded the motion and reserved his right to speak.
Councillor Newman stated that the Council’s work for vulnerable residents had been publicly recognised. This was seen at the Guardian Public Service Awards in November 2018. Issues in providing services for vulnerable residents were as a result of austerity and cuts to the Council’s budget. The United Nations had issued a recent report highlighting the impact of Government funding cuts resulting from austerity. Croydon’s staff had worked hard to support the community. Councillor Newman opposed the motion.
Councillor Clark stated that the Council had helped families who struggled to pay rent due to delays in receiving benefits caused by Universal Credit. Help had been provided to get people get off the streets into homes by using discretionary housing allowances. Further, the Council had helped over 2,400 families avoid homelessness and had reduced homelessness by 15% through the launch of new initiatives to help people get off the streets and into homes. The Council stood for the people in Croydon. Councillor Clark opposed the motion.
Councillor Hoar, seconding the motion, stated that the reality of Croydon was very different. The Council had seen the collapse of the social care system. The policy of the Council’s pension scheme had resulted in this being drastically underfunded. Rubbish collections and assisted collections had become an issue. The Council had not built an affordable home in five years. Crime was out of control and the bus consultation from TFL within the borough had not considered the elderly with regard to proposed changes to the town centre service. Councillor Hoar seconded the motion.
The motion was put to the vote and fell.