It’s now 100 days since councillors signed into office after this year’s local elections. Below you can find an update from the Opposition Conservative Group on what your Conservative councillors have been working on in the first 100 days of the new council term….
Getting started in the new four-year term
After our trend-bucking local election results in Greenwich on May 3rd, we were pleased to hold the Council Group's Annual General Meeting a few days later with all 9 elected Conservative councillors in attendance. Cllr Matt Hartley and Cllr Geoff Brighty were elected to continue as Leader and Group Whip, with returning councillor Nigel Fletcher elected as our new Deputy Leader. The Group later announced the Group's Opposition Spokespeople for 2018/19.
The Group has been very clear since the elections that as well as holding Labour to account on their manifesto, Conservative councillors intend to be held to account on our manifesto for a strong opposition too - and provide residents with the strong, independent voice they need at the Town Hall.
A new & divided Labour leadership
By contrast, Greenwich Labour got off to a much less celebratory start, with a bitter internal contest resulting in new Council Leader Danny Thorpe winning by a single vote. The Greenwich Labour Party is now more divided than they have been in a very long time - with different factions hostile to each other, and divisions increasingly spilling out into the open. The Labour Party is also dealing with the fall out from the news that Glyndon Labour councillor Tonia Ashikodi has been charged with fraud.
After an election in which Labour tried and failed to win every seat at the Town Hall - and in fact, actually lost 1 seat compared to 4 years ago – Conservative councillors have been making the case that the new administration needs to listen to the message that the electorate sent them on May 3rd, and do things differently. Instead, there has been little change - and despite something of a PR blitz from the new Council leadership, it has become clear that it's business as usual...
Our proposals to improve local democracy
At June's Full Council meeting - the first following the elections – we challenged the new Labour leadership to prove it really was intending to do things differently by putting to a vote our motion to improve democracy in Greenwich, proposing:
- Webstreaming of key council committee meetings including the Planning Board, Highways and Cabinet
- A fair allocation of councillors to key Scrutiny Panel chairperson positions, with both parties represented proportionally to their numbers
- A new non-party-political process to appoint the Mayor, who as First Citizen should represent the whole borough, and not just the Labour Party
Read more at the News Shopper here.
Needless to say, Labour voted these proposals down - and in the same meeting actually forced through measures to restrict our ability, as an Opposition, to hold the administration to account. You can watch the debate on our motion here.
Ward budgets scheme set to continue
We also had a bit of good news in June, however, with our motion calling for a continuation of the successful Ward Budget Scheme - an idea first proposed by Cllr Spencer Drury - being passed unanimously. In the debate it was confirmed that ward councillors will have access to a further £30,000 to allocate to local community projects over the next four years. You can watch Spencer propose the motion and the debate that followed here and read more about the scheme in the Cabinet papers here.
'Greenwich Against Loneliness' initiative secured
At July's Full Council meeting Conservative councillors celebrated a big win when we won cross-party support for our proposal for a new 'Greenwich Against Loneliness' campaign in the borough. You can read more in the News Shopper here and read the reasons why we brought forward the motion on Cllr Matt Hartley’s blog post before the meeting here.
In the same meeting, the Conservative Group’s ideas for how the council could do more to tackle mental health problems in schools through applying to become a 'trailblazer area' under a new Government scheme were voted down. However, Labour’s Deputy Leader David Gardner – now responsible for schools – confirmed during the debate that the council’s Cabinet will consider our ideas anyway.
Pressuring the council over the Greenwich Gas Holder
Since the election Cllr Nigel Fletcher has been working away at the council's astonishing mishandling over the planned demolition of the East Greenwich Gas Holder. You can read Nigel's motion for June's Full Council meeting here and watch the debate here . Labour voted the motion down, with local Peninsula ward Labour councillors refusing to speak in defence of this key example of industrial heritage despite campaigning on the issue before polling day.
After Nigel took it up again in July and at Planning Board, the council has now finally and belatedly made representations to owners SGN over the demolition
Lots more besides...
On other issues across the borough...
- Cllr Charlie Davis has been further exposing the council's refusal to stand up for residents on Sadiq Khan's closure of Eltham Police Station.
- Cllr John Hills has been doing lots of work in his role as the council's appointed Armed Forces representative, including over improving arrangements for future Armed Forces Day Parades.
- Cllr Matt Clare continues to campaign for Southeastern commuters, including opposing the axeing of stops on the Sidcup Line, as our Transport Spokesperson.
- Cllrs Spencer Drury, Pat Greenwell and other Eltham councillors have been raising questions over the council's actions in the run up to the closure of Wide Horizons.
- Cllr Geoff Brighty's campaigning for a Noise Barrier on Siebert Road resulted in this being written into the Consent Order for the new Silvertown Tunnel.
- Cllr Matt Hartley has been pressing the new Leader to match his warm words over the Cruise Liner Terminal by actually meeting campaigners on the issue.
- Cllr Nigel Fletcher has been working to secure guarantees on the future of the Greenwich Heritage Centre, including on a new home in the new Creative District.
- Cllr Pat Greenwell has taken up several issues around The John Roan School in her role as Opposition Spokesperson for Children, Young People & Skills.
- Cllr Roger Tester has been taking up anti-social behaviour issues on the Coldharbour estate, organising a residents meeting and continuing our Neighbourhood Watch drive.
...as well as the team's ongoing work as ward councillors, raising issues with council officers, holding surgeries and taking up casework for residents.
While there are no council meetings in the next few weeks, committees resume their business in September and there are two more Full Council meetings this year - you can see more about forthcoming agendas here.
In the meantime, if you have any queries or issues to raise with your local Conservative councillors, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.