With this being the first Full Council meeting since the onset of lockdown there was a bumper agenda and it took over 9 and a half hours to get through it all. The meeting took place virtually with members of the public able to watch live online.
The Labour Group staged a series of key intervention on important issues the highlights of which are set out below.
Public petitions, questions and deputations
There was more public participation in July’s Full Council meeting than there has been for some time with 3 questions, 2 petitions, and 12 deputations being submitted.
The first petition was presented by John Cullen on behalf of the Accessible Beach 4 Pompey campaign and the second by Dr Jonathan Lake on behalf of the Pompey Street Space campaign. The Labour Group full supports both campaigns and will be ensuring the administration follows through on the promised actions.
This kind of public engagement in council decision making is key to fostering a vibrant democratic culture and the Labour Group is keen to encourage party members, supporters and others to use these opportunities to raise issues they care about. Anyone who would like guidance or support in doing this can email email@example.com and we’ll put you in touch with the relevant Labour spokesperson.
Holding the administration to account on carbon reduction targets
The Lib Dem leader of the council had proposed a motion on carbon reduction which included a date of 2045 for the council to become carbon neutral. This contradicted the Climate Emergency motion passed by the Labour Group last year which committed the local authority to achieving net carbon neutral by 2030.
This is a crucial distinction as it speaks to the urgency of the crisis and the speed at which the council must act. The Labour Group successfully amended the motion to delete the 2045 date replacing it with 2030 and will continue to monitor the actions of the administration to ensure there is no further backtracking on the key issues of the day.
Promoting active and green travel
Following a powerful deputation from Dr Jonathan Lake on behalf of the Pompey Street Space Campaign, the Labour motion calling on the Lib Dem administration to endorse the three principle requests of the campaign was accepted. The motion also asked the cabinet to ensure future bids for funding city development and future bids for active travel funding also supported the three requests of the campaign.
The importance of youth services
The Labour Group put forward a motion detailing the cuts that have been made to local youth services and highlighting the important role such services can play in the development of young people. The motion called on the administration to review how more resources could be made available for youth services and called on Group Leaders to lobby government to make youth services a statutory service with appropriate funding. The motion passed with the support of the administration.
Fair pay for staff in council services
Throughout lockdown those working in council services have made incredible efforts to look after the vulnerable, keep us safe and our communities clean and tidy. The Labour Group on the council have been working closely with affiliated trade unions to ensure those staff are now properly rewarded for their efforts.
As a result Labour councillors put forward a motion thanking council staff for what they’ve done during lockdown and setting out a series of ways in which councils should reward them including lobbying for a one off coronavirus bonus, supporting a fair pay deal and signing up to become an accredited Living Wage employer. Read more in The News coverage here: https://www.portsmouth.co.uk/news/politics/portsmouth-councillors-lobby-ps500-coronavirus-bonus-council-workers-2917247
Solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement
In support of the growing movement to address racial inequalities and structural racism the Labour Group brought a motion to Full Council in solidarity with the communities blighted by this issues and proposing a series of actions the council could take. The Lib Dem administration had also proposed a similar motion so theirs was heard first and the Labour Group put forward amendments which strengthened their text. The amendments were accepted and the motion passed meaning the later Labour motion fell.
The full agenda and recording of the meeting can be accessed on the council website here: https://democracy.portsmouth.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=146&MId=4264&Ver=4