Yesterday evening (Wed 27 Nov), councillors in Southwark met for November's Council Assembly, on the theme of Local Business and Enterprise.
The meeting started on a solemn note with a minute's silence for three recent deaths: Richard Muzira, the cyclist killed in Camberwell recently; Grace Jones, the oldest resident of Southwark (and Britain); and Lesley Hammond, Greater London Council member for Dulwich 1981-1986.
Public deputations from local groups were then heard, beginning with BBI UK talking to councillors about their ambition to help budding entrepreneurs. This was followed by Latin American Business in Southwark, who made a strong case for a Latin American Quarter to be part of the regeneration of Elephant & Castle, and finally the Tower Bridge Road Alliance on their work to create a successful business community group their area.
The themed debate began with the Cabinet Member for Economic Wellbeing speaking about what the council has done to support people into work.
Cllr Adele Morris then responded for the Liberal Democrats, outlining our vision to boost the local economy, create jobs and support small businesses. She also made reference to a local shop in her own ward of Cathedrals, which says it has seen its profits drop by 80% since a chain supermarket moved across the road.
There was also some debate on payday loan shops, bookmakers and pawnbrokers. The Liberal Democrats proposed that the council looks into giving business rate discounts where appropriate to encourage mixed high streets, and the council has agreed to do this.
Liberal Democrat group leader Cllr Anood Al-Samerai opened up Members' Questions with an urgent question on cycle safety, in reference to the recent deaths of cyclists in Camberwell and across London. She pushed the council to look at installing segregated cycle lanes on main roads.
Amongst other questions, Cllr Adele Morris asked the Leader of the Council whether he would consider investing some of the staff pension fund into new homes in the borough, as the Liberal Democrats have pledged to do. Labour first said they would consider it, then said they opposed it - leading to Cllr Morris to accuse them of being confused over the issue!
Following members questions, a debate was put forward on The Blue marketplace in Bermondsey. Cllr Paul Kyriacou spoke for the Liberal Democrats as a local ward councillor who has had years of involvement in the area. This was followed by Cllr Nick Stanton, who said marketplaces like The Blue need "long-term nurturing, investment and care".
The evening finished with council reports, including a controversial Area Action Plan for Canada Water which divided councillors. Voicing fears previously raised at planning committee, the Liberal Democrat group voted against the plan, which nonetheless went through because of the Labour group's backing.
- Southwark Council's next Council Assembly meeting is on Wed 22 January 2014 (Theme: Active Communities and the Elderly)