Agenda item

Public Questions and Petitions and Other Communications

(a) To receive any questions or petitions from the public, or communications submitted by the Lord Mayor or the Chief Executive and to pass such resolutions thereon as the Council Procedure Rules permit and as may be deemed expedient.

 

 

(NOTES: 1. There is a time limit of one hour for the above item of business.  In accordance with the arrangements published on the Council’s website, questions/petitions are required to be submitted in writing, to committee@sheffield.gov.uk, by 9.00 a.m. on Monday 4 March 2024.  Questions/petitions submitted after the deadline will be asked at the meeting subject to the discretion of the Chair (The Lord Mayor);

 

2. For this particular meeting, it is expected that the one-hour time limit will be strictly adhered to, in accordance with the Council Procedure Rules.  Priority will be given to petitions and to questions relating to budget proposals, and any questions which are unable to be asked within the one-hour allocation will be answered in writing after the meeting.  The Lord Mayor (as Chair of the meeting) has discretion as to how questions and petitions are presented at the meeting and as to whether questioners/petitioners are invited to ask their question or present their petition at the meeting, or they are read out at the meeting.)

 

 

(b) Petition Requiring Debate

 

The Council’s Petitions Scheme requires that a petition containing over 5,000 signatures from individuals who live, work or study in Sheffield, be the subject of debate at the Council meeting. A qualifying petition has been received as follows:-

 

Petition Requesting the Council to “Stand with Palestine”

 

To debate a joint electronic and paper petition containing over 5,300 signatures online and over 2,400 signatures on paper, requesting the Council to “stand with Palestine”.  The online petition - Sheffield Council: Stand with Palestine - Action Network - includes further information.  There is a time limit of 25 minutes for this item of business.

 

 

Minutes:

4.1

Lord Mayor’s Announcements

 

 

 

The Lord Mayor (Councillor Colin Ross) reported that a Lord Mayor’s Gala Ball, held the preceding Friday evening, had raised over £8,000 for the St Luke’s Hospice Charity, and he expressed his thanks to the large number of Council Members who had supported that event.

 

 

 

The Lord Mayor stated that, at the end of the Council meeting, he would be expressing thanks to Members of the Council who would not be seeking re-election at the forthcoming elections in May and would invite them to the Lord Mayor’s Parlour at the conclusion of the meeting.  He advised that he too would be retiring at those elections.

 

 

 

 

4.2

Petitions and Public Questions

 

 

 

The Lord Mayor (Councillor Colin Ross) reported that questions would be taken at the meeting from five members of the public.  He added that no ordinary petitions had been received, but a petition containing over 5,000 signatures would be debated at the end of this item of business, and that petition was referred to at item 5(b) on the agenda for the meeting.

 

 

 

 

4.3

Public Questions

 

 

4.3.1

Question from Abid Hussain

 

 

 

Question - The South Yorkshire Muslim Bereavement Trust (SYMBT) welcomes the Council’s efforts to develop a comprehensive city-wide Bereavement Strategy, including the provisions in fulfilling the special religious needs of the 50,000 strong Muslim communities. As the Council approves its Budget for 2024/25 today on 6th March and given the depletion of burial space within the city across all cemeteries, and in particular Shiregreen and City Road, could the Council provide a detailed position on what revenue and capital allocation has been set aside for advancing the development and implementation of the City-Wide Bereavement Strategy. Specifically, this should include the capital allocation in 24/25, 25/26, 26/27 and 27/28, which will be required to either acquire new sites or develop sites that are in Council ownership.

 

 

 

Mr. Hussain wished to thank Councillor Richard Williams and the Bereavement Services team for meeting with the Trust recently to discuss the issues raised in his questions relating to the depletion of burial sites in the city.  He stated that he looked forward to the continuation of that dialogue, and added that the Trust would also wish to discuss the serious issues recently reported regarding water retention at the Shiregreen cemetery site, which was of great concern to the community.

 

 

 

In response, Councillor Richard Williams (Chair of the Communities, Parks and Leisure Policy Committee) stated that if the Council did not act in this matter there would be a long-term issue with capacity, which was an issue common to many of the core cities.  He added that various meetings had recently taken place between Members, officers and community representatives, in order to find a way forward.  A Bereavement Strategy was being produced and would be at Committee stage by, at the latest, September 2024.  Additionally, Bereavement Services were working to identify new plots and a sum of money had been allocated to enable this work.  When new plots were found, capital funding would be sought. He confirmed that a note had been made on capital funds to this effect.

 

 

 

Councillor Williams added that the can was no longer being “kicked down the road” and something would be done, with the help of community groups, to provide a fit for purpose bereavement service for the city.

 

 

4.3.2

Questions from Russell Johnson

 

 

 

Questions – Complaints - Why has the Formal Complaint from those illegitimately pressured to sign a draconian Undertaking during the events described by Sir Mark Lowcock so far taken about three years to date and is not expected to be concluded for several more months?

 

 

 

Why has a straightforward Complaint from a concerned member of the public regarding alleged breaches of the Members' Code of Conduct so far taken eleven months to process?

 

 

 

Does the Leader understand that, in view of the above, citizens are entitled to be cynical about the sincerity of the Council's apology following the Inquiry Report. It seems to some observers to be another case of 'sorry, not sorry', particularly in view of the apparent absence of accountability for the whole Street Tree Debacle and the more recent 'Containergate', 'Plaquegate', Banner Cross street redesign consultation and Market Tavern blunders. 

 

 

 

When will Sheffield City Council adopt and properly and enthusiastically implement the new LGSCO [Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman] Complaints Handling Code?  If it is not the intention to adopt, why is that?

 

 

 

Governance - The Lowcock Inquiry usefully examined some aspects of the culture and actions of the Council during the period concerned and within the brief he was working to. It is not and could not ever be a comprehensive analysis providing descriptions of and remedies for SCC's failures as manifested during the Scandal. 

 

 

 

When will the Council cease dishonestly pretending that his work represents the 'final word' and treat Sheffield's people with proper respect? Does he appreciate that his regime's current approach on this matter gives the impression of a cowardly organisation?

 

 

 

In response, Councillor Tom Hunt (the Leader of the Council and Chair of the Strategy and Resources Policy Committee) stated that the formal complaints submitted in 2021 had not been progressed at that time. This had been because the Independent Inquiry into the Street Trees Dispute had been announced, and it had been felt that the Inquiry would be the better way to resolve the issues raised.  He explained that, as part of the apology process which followed the publication of the Inquiry report, further discussions had taken place with those involved, and it had been agreed that the complaints would be considered.  He added that the work on the complaints was ongoing, although he acknowledged that progress had been slower than Mr Johnson would have wished.

 

 

 

Regarding the Member Code of Conduct complaint, Councillor Hunt advised that all allegations of breaches of the Members' Code of Conduct were investigated fully and appropriately by Council officers. He added that these matters were confidential, so he did not know the specific complaint but, in any event, it would not be appropriate for the Council to comment in public on the details of an individual case. He advised that if complainants felt that they were not being suitably informed and updated through the complaints process, there was a procedure by which they could raise their concerns about this.

 

 

 

Councillor Hunt also stated that the Strategy and Resources Policy Committee was due to consider for adoption, the new Complaints Handling Code, at its meeting on 17 April 2024.

 

 

 

Regarding the Lowcock Inquiry, Councillor Hunt stated that the Council had been clear that whilst it would always be possible to undertake more work and spend more time on understanding what went wrong during the street tree dispute, the Lowcock Report represented a thorough and effective analysis of the causes of the dispute, and was a clear and accurate description of what went wrong in the Council during that time.  He added that the Report made a series of clear recommendations which had been fully and unambiguously adopted by the Council and progress towards meeting these recommendations had been publicly reported upon on a number of occasions at the Strategy and Resources Policy Committee.

 

 

 

Councillor Hunt continued that, in his view, it was time for the city, a year on from the Lowcock Inquiry Report, to move on from the street tree dispute.  He stated that Sir Mark, in his Inquiry Report and in his remarks made at the extraordinary meeting of the Council on 10 May 2023, said as such.  He added that this did not mean forgetting or putting aside the recommendations, nor forgetting to learn the lessons from the dispute, but it did mean collectively focussing efforts and energies on moving forward as a city to be the best council that we can. He advised that the development of the Council Plan and the budget were both good examples of that work.

 

 

 

(NOTE: Prior to asking the questions which he had submitted, Mr. Johnson also asked a further question which the Lord Mayor deemed not to relate to a matter being within the responsibility of the Council, as it related to an internal Labour Party matter, and thus was not considered at the meeting.)

 

 

4.3.3

Questions from Justin Buxton (asked at the meeting by Russell Johnson)

 

 

 

Questions – When sharing the design proposals for the promised commemorative plaque on the 16th of November 2023 to a few individuals, did the Council infer that it should be subject to non-disclosure to any concerned campaigners other than the unknown individuals provided with the design proposal in this first instance.

 

 

 

Was any consultation with campaigners or 'stakeholders', sought regarding the plaque design before the 16th of November 2023? If not, why not?

 

 

 

In response, Councillor Tom Hunt (the Leader of the Council and Chair of the Strategy and Resources Policy Committee) explained that the initial plaque design proposal had been shared informally, by email, with external stakeholders on 16th November. This email had not referenced sharing the designs – it asked for initial views on the plaque design and wording, and comments on the proposed consultation plan prior to an intended wider period of public consultation. He reported that the immediate feedback from some stakeholders had been that the design did not appropriately capture the emotion and passion of the dispute, and so Officers had started to consider alternative approaches to developing a design.

 

 

 

Councillor Hunt explained that when the design proposal had been shared internally with Members of the Waste and Street Scene Policy Committee on 17th November 2023, Councillors had been asked not to share the design more widely as it had been recognised that a change in approach was likely, based on the initial feedback that had already been received from stakeholders.

 

 

 

Councillor Hunt added that it had been intended that a period of wider consultation with campaigners and the public would take place following the initial discussions with stakeholders in November 2023, but that the Council had changed that approach following the feedback which he mentioned previously. He reported that a process was now underway to establish a task and finish group, which would involve a wide range of stakeholders, to develop and lead a process for agreeing the wording of a design brief for the plaque and the method of commissioning designs, for wider public consultation by the Council, and that further details on this would be announced later in March.

 

 

4.3.4

Questions from Graham Wroe

 

 

 

Questions – On 23rd January I sent Councillor Miskell and the Transport, Regeneration and Climate Policy Committee an admittedly very long list of questions, compiled by a group of climate activists from various groups. Some of these questions have been answered, some not. Progress on the answers to those questions can be seen on my blog ‘tellthetruthsheffield.org’.

 

 

 

The climate emergency is accelerating at a terrifying pace. For instance, in 1980 global temperatures had increased by 0.5C since the pre-industrial period. It then took another 30 years for temperatures to reach 1C in 2010. Then in just 14 years, temperatures increased another 0.5C to 1.5C in 2024, the level that climate scientists have long warned us will lead to unstoppable feedback loops and then possibly the hothouse earth scenario where the planet eventually becomes uninhabitable. In the previous week, on average, global temperatures were 1.8C above the pre-industrial period.

 

 

 

In light of this, and the recently released plans for new housing at Neepsend and Furnace Hill, I would like to ask the following previously submitted but as yet unanswered questions about Housing -

 

 

 

Will the Council commit to building all future council-owned or managed housing to a high energy efficiency or operationally net-zero standard in 2024? 

 

 

 

A fabric-first approach to building design involves prioritising the building envelope (walls, roofs, floors, windows, and doors) to create a high-performance, energy-efficient building. Will the Council require developers to use a fabric-first approach in new developments in 2024?

 

 

 

Will the Council require developers to carry out  a whole life cycle carbon assessment of new build developments in 2024?”

 

 

 

Will the Council remove minimum parking requirements for new residential homes in 2024?

 

 

 

Will the Council require 20%, or above, of onsite renewable energy generation for new building development in 2024?

 

 

 

The Lord Mayor (Councillor Colin Ross) stated that Mr Wroe had submitted 64 questions as a Freedom of Information request, and some of these were still being processed by officers.  The questions read out at the meeting were duplicates of some of these.  Mr Wroe would therefore be provided with full written answers to all his questions in due course, rather than answering some of the questions verbally at this meeting.

 

 

4.3.5

(NOTE: The three questions which had been submitted by Ibrar Hussain, but which had not been asked at the meeting due to his absence, would receive written responses from Councillor Richard Williams (Chair of the Communities, Parks and Leisure Policy Committee), Councillor Ben Miskell (Chair of the Transport, Regeneration and Climate Policy Committee) and Councillor Joe Otten (Chair of the Waste and Street Scene Policy Committee), as appropriate, and be published on the Council’s website.)

 

 

 

 

4.4

Petition Requiring Debate: Requesting The Council To “Stand With Palestine”

 

 

4.4.1

The Council received a joint paper and electronic petition containing 7,664 signatures, requesting Sheffield City Council to ‘Stand with Palestine’.

 

 

4.4.2

The Council's Petitions Scheme requires any petition containing over 5,000 signatures from individuals who live, work or study in Sheffield, to be the subject of debate at the Council meeting.

 

 

4.4.3

The Lord Mayor (Councillor Colin Ross) advised that in view of the subject of the petition, Members should be particularly mindful of the Council’s obligations under Section 149 of the Equality Act 2010, i.e. to have due regard to the need to eliminate discrimination, harassment and victimisation, advance equality of opportunity and foster good relations between persons who share relevant protected characteristics, and persons who do not.  He stated that, for the purposes of that Act, both race and religion or belief were protected characteristics, and he advised that due to the loss life in Gaza it was inevitable that strong emotions would be stirred, but sensitivity and respect should be shown by all in their choice and use of language.

 

 

4.4.4

In attendance at the meeting to make representations on behalf of the petitioners were Jonny Feldman and Annie O’Gara.  Mr Feldman who stated that as a Jewish baker he was proud to have been entrusted to present a petition signed by nearly 7,500 people in Sheffield, who were made up of a cross section of religions and beliefs demanding the Council to show strong moral leadership on the issue of the war in Gaza. The petition was being presented on the 152nd day of the war.  He stated that 30,000 Palestinian people, of which over 11,000 were children, had been killed so far.  Mr Feldman welcomed the Council having passed a ceasefire motion in November 2023, and prior to that, having recognised the state of Palestine, but felt that this was not enough, as the crime of apartheid being committed by Israel was a crime against humanity.  He commented that this was an industrial slaughter, of a scale that it had been expected would not be seen again, and which amounted to genocide.  He felt that the Council must step up and not be silent, rather than bowing to any external pressure.

 

 

 

Mr Feldman stated that the petition requested the Council take 3 principled steps:-

 

 

 

1)       Welcome the International Court of Justice (ICJ) order that Israel prevent any further genocidal acts and incitement to genocide.

 

 

 

2)       Accept the Amnesty International description of Israel as a state practising the crime against humanity of Apartheid and work towards making Sheffield an Israeli Apartheid free zone.

 

 

 

3)       Issue a statement of unity and solidarity with Palestinian people, who for 75 years have lived under the injustice of an apartheid system and who now face the ultimate injustice of genocide.

 

 

 

Mr Feldman concluded his representations by quoting Archbishop Desmond Tutu - “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor” and he requested the Council to show moral leadership and vote to enact the demands of the petition.

 

 

4.4.5

Councillor Tom Hunt (the Leader of the Council and Chair of the Strategy and Resources Policy Committee), in responding to the petition, thanked the organisers of the petition for bringing it to the Council and all those who had signed it, and stated that, in his view, what was happening in Gaza was a tragedy, where over 30,000 people had died to date and countless numbers of people had been injured and families had lost lives and livelihoods. He repeated the Council’s previous call for a ceasefire and stated that the killings must stop and there should be no ground incursion into Rafa and the international community, including the UK Government, must do all it can to exert pressure for a ceasefire and for the recommencement of the peace process, in order to work towards a two-state solution.  Councillor Hunt stated that he recognised that a great deal of people in Sheffield were concerned about the situation and had joined protests and raised money to support humanitarian relief efforts.  He advised that the previous month, the Strategy and Resources Policy Committee had formally recognised those concerns and taken several cross-party decisions, which were:-

 

 

 

1.       To reaffirm that the Council continues to recognise the State of Palestine as a full, sovereign, and independent nation.

 

 

 

2.       To confirm that the Council has no contractual relationship with companies which are named on the UN list of companies enabling or supporting the construction of illegal settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories, and that the Council was committed to making procurement decisions in line with its ethical procurement policy, which is currently under review.

 

 

 

Councillor Hunt added that he was also pleased that the Council had entered into a friendship agreement with Nablus, on the West Bank. With regards to the ICJ’s interim ruling mentioned in the petition, he stated that Israel should comply with the ruling in full.  With regards to the request for a statement of solidarity, Councillor Hunt stated that this could not constitutionally be fully resolved at this Council meeting but must be given proper consideration by the Strategy and Resources Policy Committee. He commented that he would ensure that the asks of the petition are given proper and due consideration, and in advance of the matters being discussed at a meeting of that Committee, he would be willing to meet with a delegation of the petitioners to discuss the matters further.  He also proposed that a cross party working group of members of the Strategy and Resources Policy Committee be established to consider the matters raised in the petition and the next steps, including in relation to a statement of solidarity and reviewing the report of Amnesty International.

 

 

4.4.6

Councillor Shaffaq Mohammed (Liberal Democrat Group Spokesperson on the Strategy and Resources Policy Committee) thanked those involved in organising the petition and acknowledged that the situation was of great concern.  He referred to the vote held by the Council at its meeting in November calling for a ceasefire, however he advised that, in his view, the Council was limited as to what it could achieve. The Council could lobby the Government to press for a ceasefire and he referred to the vote held in Parliament in November on that matter.  He stated that the Council could renew its call for a ceasefire and call for the Israeli Government to be mindful of its international obligations, in particular to prevent genocide, and he confirmed his view that he wanted the war to stop immediately and for the citizens in Gaza to have access to humanitarian aid, but the Council could do little to influence the American Government.  He commented that the Council had sent a clear message with its vote in November, and he would support the formation of a cross party working group and the making of a joint statement of solidarity, but this was an international issue, and it was important to be honest about what the Council could do to change the situation.

 

 

4.4.7

Councillor Alexi Dimond (speaking on behalf of the Green Group) thanked the organisers of the petition for bringing it to the Council and all those who had signed it, and he stated that, at 1st November when the Council had resolved to call for a ceasefire, the Israeli military had already killed 8,500 Palestinians and since then have killed at least 21,000 more and this is the highest rate of killing since the Rwandan genocide.  He commented that, despite passing its resolution, the Council had not taken any public action or made any statements in support of Palestine, which contrasted the approach taken to support Ukraine. He stated that the Council must vote to issue a public statement of unity and solidarity with the Palestinians, to welcome and support the ICJ proceedings and to accept that Israel was an apartheid state.  This was necessary as, in his view, the suffering and destruction in Palestine was on an unimaginable scale, with 1 in 75 Gazans dead, 2 million people displaced, half of all homes destroyed, hospitals, universities, schools, places of worship, ancient heritage sites and even graveyards obliterated.  He commented that the Israeli Government’s actions were continuing thanks to the unconditional diplomatic and military support of the US and UK governments, and he reported graphic examples of atrocities being carried out on, and the suffering being endured by, Palestinians in Gaza.  He believed these acts were occurring due to Israeli governments being treated with impunity for the last 75 years, despite committing crimes and atrocities and ignoring international rulings, and this had enabled the Israeli Government to establish an apartheid, supremacist state, which was in the process of carrying out genocide. He welcomed the petition and proposed that the Council vote to accept it.

 

 

4.4.8

Councillor Dianne Hurst (Sheffield Community Councillors Group Spokesperson on the Strategy and Resources Policy Committee) thanked Mr Feldman for his representations in support of the petition, and stated that nobody could fail to be moved by the humanitarian crisis in Gaza and the scenes of suffering being shown by news broadcasters. She commented that there could not be a military solution to the situation in Gaza and she reiterated her support for the resolution passed by the Council in November to call for a ceasefire.  She added that the Israeli and Palestinian governments must come together, supported by the international community, to discuss establishing a realistic two-state solution and secure a situation where Palestinians can go about their everyday business without fear of the threat of damage or destruction.

 

 

4.4.9

Contributions were made by a further four Members of the Council, summarised as follows. Councillor Minesh Parekh referred to the extent of loss of life to date resulting from the Israeli military’s bombardment of Gaza and that Rafa, the last safe refuge for Palestinians, was now under attack and faced the threat of a ground invasion.  He stated that the UK, in its role as a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, had a duty and historic responsibility to speak out, and he did believe that the UK had international influence.  He welcomed the petition calling on all Councillors to stand in solidarity with the people of Palestine.  He referred to examples where individuals in Parliament and the press were seeking to demonise protestors for exercising their democratic rights, and to suggestions that politicians should be banned from engaging with certain groups involved in protests, which he emphasised was an extremely draconian move and would undermine the essence of our democracy. He stated that the ICJ has ordered the Israeli Government to take measures to prevent genocide and he believed that South Africa should be commended for bringing forward the case.  Councillor Parekh commented that, in the 1980s, the Council had taken a proud stand against South African apartheid, and collective acts of solidarity, boycotts and rallies and lobbying efforts were extremely important for helping to undo that apartheid regime.  He referred to the resolution passed by this Council in November to support a ceasefire and which also noted the recognition by various organisations, including Amnesty International, that the Israeli Government is enacting a system of apartheid, and he stated that Sheffield was a city of sanctuary and of peace.  He believed that the Council should use all available levers to act in solidarity with Palestine.

 

 

4.4.10

Councillor Peter Price stated that it was a sad subject for what could possibly be his final speech in the Chamber. He advised that he wished to apologise for recently sharing four tweets in support of Palestine which some people had interpreted as being antisemitic.  He commented that his actions had been prompted by continually viewing distressing TV footage of the humanitarian suffering in Palestine, examples of which he referenced, and his frustration at the UK Government’s response to them, which in his opinion was very low key, and as a result he had felt the need to assist efforts to raise the public’s awareness of the atrocities.  He commented that, in his view, the calls for a temporary ceasefire were not appropriate and it was necessary for a permanent ceasefire to be established immediately.  He referred to the leadership shown, historically, by this Council, particularly in relation to anti-apartheid and added that such statements and acts, when supported by those of other local authorities and organisations, do help to change minds.

 

 

4.4.11

Councillor Nabeela Mowlana stated that the images coming out of Gaza were horrific and she welcomed the action of South Africa in taking the matter to the ICJ, which had led to an interim ruling of genocide.  She referred to the report of Amnesty International published in 2022 condemning the Israeli Government for implementing a system of apartheid against Palestinians, and she added that behind every action of the Israeli Government stands the political, economic and military support of world leaders, including the US and UK.  She stated that Sheffield had a rich history in taking action against the tide, an example being in the early 1980s when Sheffield was the first city to pledge that it would cut all ties with apartheid South Africa, including divesting from companies that invested in that country.  She referred to the calls being made for peace in the region and stated that this should be a true and lasting peace, rooted in justice and liberation, which would include an end to the occupation, apartheid and killings in the West Bank, and Palestinians having the right to return to their homes.  She stated that the route to peace was by actively building for peace, not by condoning the current massacres.  She commented that the Palestinians did not want our sympathy, they wanted our solidarity, and added that it was the duty of all Councillors to do all they can to push the UK Government to recognise the rights of Palestinian people to live in freedom and security.  She concluded her comments by expressing her wish for the Council to welcome the petition and support the actions as far as possible.

 

 

4.4.12

Councillor Sophie Wilson stated that she wished to support the calls expressed earlier in the debate, for a vote to take place on the petition at this meeting.

 

 

4.4.13

Annie O’Gara, in exercising the petitioners’ right of reply, stated that the 7000+ people who had signed the petition expected a positive outcome at this meeting and she urged the Council to make a moral statement, as they had with Ukraine, because the situation was urgent, with the Palestinians facing an unprecedented existential crisis.  She referred to the images being seen via television and social media which were extremely distressing, and she contrasted the Council’s stance on the conflict in Ukraine with its stance on this latest conflict in Gaza.  She suggested that the Council’s response should be guided by international law and the human rights reports issued by organisations such as Amnesty International, and she added that the core demands of the petition were entirely in line with those principles and should be accepted in full at this meeting, and not be deferred to another meeting at a future date.  At a minimum, the Council should accept its core requests to welcome the ICJ order, accept the Amnesty International description of the state of Israel, and issue a statement of solidarity and unity. Ms O’Gara referred to the joint statement on Ukraine issued by the Leaders of the three groups in the Council administration, which included a promise that Sheffield would be a light in the darkness for Ukraine, and she asked how much darker did life have to get for Palestinians before the Council does the same for them, and she concluded her representations by stating that she did not accept the notion that the Council’s support for the petition would be ineffective and meaningless, but instead would be very powerful, as moral leadership was hugely powerful.

 

 

4.4.14

The Lord Mayor reported that, in relation to the action to be taken in response to the petition, the Council had two options available to it.  These were to take no further action, or to refer the petition to the Strategy and Resources Policy Committee for consideration having regard to the comments made by Members during the debate.  He referred to the fact that legal constraints prevented the Council from taking the action requested in the petition at this meeting, and that the legal advice that had been prepared on this had been provided, prior to the meeting, to the leaderships of the political groups on the Council and to the organisers of the petition.

 

 

4.4.15

Councillor Tom Hunt responded to issues raised during the debate and thanked everyone who had spoken for their contributions, commenting that there had been many heartfelt words and emotions expressed. He believed that the words that were used in the Council Chamber did matter and added that concerns about the situation had been voiced in the Chamber in recent months and would continue to be so.  He stated that there would be many people in the city who would be concerned about some of the language being used in recent weeks, many of whom will have relatives and friends in Israel and Palestine and who will be mourning the loss of loved ones from their communities.  He called for all hostages to be released as part of the efforts to achieve a ceasefire. Councillor Hunt stated that, in view of the legal constraints outlined by the Lord Mayor, the one positive course of action that could be proposed at this meeting was to refer the petition to the Strategy and Resources Policy Committee, and he added that a cross party working group would be set up to consider the actions requested in the petition.

 

 

4.4.16

Following a point of order raised by a Member of the Council, the General Counsel outlined the legal advice which he had issued prior to the meeting on the options available to the Council in relation to the petition following the debate, which was based on the Council’s constitution and the principles of local authority decision making.  The actions that the petition was asking the Council to take in relation to how the Authority delivers its functions, was a matter delegated by full Council to the Strategy and Resources Policy Committee and could only be taken by full Council where a prior decision had been made by the full Council to rescind the delegation.  A decision on how the Authority delivers its functions can only be taken after consideration of a report setting out the full implications and published five clear working days prior to the relevant meeting.

 

 

4.4.17

Councillor Shaffaq Mohammed seconded the proposal that had been moved by Councillor Hunt to refer the petition to the Strategy and Resources Policy Committee.

 

 

4.4.18

The Lord Mayor, after consulting with the General Counsel, ruled two alternative courses of action proposed by Councillor Alexi Dimond as not permissible, on the grounds they were not in accordance with the Council’s constitution.

 

 

4.4.19

The Lord Mayor suggested that a vote be held on the proposal, moved by Councillor Hunt and seconded by Councillor Mohammed, to refer the petition to the Strategy and Resources Policy Committee, and he obtained assurances from the leaders of the political groups on the Council that the actions requested by the petition will be considered by the Strategy and Resources Policy Committee as swiftly as possible.

 

 

4.4.20

Following further objections from several members of the Council seeking to have a vote to approve the action requested by the petition, the Lord Mayor adjourned the meeting to allow him to meet with the Leaders and Whips of the political groups on the Council.

 

 

4.4.21

On the resumption of the meeting, the Lord Mayor reported that the discussions held between the parties during the adjournment of the meeting had resulted in a proposal being identified that offered both a legal and swift way forward in relation to addressing the actions requested by the petition.  He invited the Leader of the Council (Councillor Tom Hunt) to outline the proposal.

 

 

4.4.22

Councillor Hunt stated that his proposal was that the petition be referred to the Strategy and Resources Policy Committee and he gave an assurance that the Committee would give proper consideration to each constituent part of the petition to assess what actions the Council would legally be able to take in support of the petition, and that a cross party working group of members of the Strategy and Resources Policy Committee would be convened to oversee that work.  Councillor Hunt gave an additional assurance to develop a cross-party statement of solidarity to be issued, if possible, before the start of the pre-election period on 26th March 2024.

 

 

4.4.23

Councillor Shaffaq Mohammed seconded the proposal.

 

 

4.4.24

The proposal was then put to the vote and was carried.  Accordingly, the resolution passed by the Council was as follows:-

 

 

4.4.25

RESOLVED: That this Council refers the petition to the Strategy and Resources Policy Committee for consideration of all aspects of the petition.

 

 

 

 

4.4.26

The votes on the motion were ordered to be recorded and were as follows:-

 

 

 

For the motion (64)

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The Lord Mayor (Councillor Colin Ross), the Deputy Lord Mayor (Councillor Jayne Dunn)  and Councillors Simon Clement-Jones, Richard Shaw, Sophie Thornton, Ian Horner, Kurtis Crossland, Ann Woolhouse, Denise Fox, Bryan Lodge, Karen McGowan, Talib Hussain, Mark Jones, Safiya Saeed, Tim Huggan, Minesh Parekh,Ruth Milsom, Mary Lea, Zahira Naz, Martin Smith, Robert Reiss, Craig Gamble Pugh, Alan Woodcock, Roger Davison, Barbara Masters, Shaffaq Mohammed, Fran Belbin, Abdul Khayum, Sue Alston, Andrew Sangar, Cliff Woodcraft, Ian Auckland, Mohammed Mahroof, Steve Ayris, Sioned-Mair Richards, Terry Fox,  Laura Moynahan, Tony Downing, Glynis Chapman, Gail Smith, Ibby Ullah, Nighat Basharat, Ben Miskell, Nabeela Mowlana, David Barker, Mike Drabble, Dianne Hurst, Peter Price, Garry Weatherall, Mike Chaplin, Tony Damms, Penny Baker, Will Sapwell, Richard Williams, Lewis Chinchen, Julie Grocutt, Janet Ridler, Laura McClean, Tom Hunt, Alan Hooper, Mike Levery, Ann Whitaker, Mick Rooney and Alison Norris.

 

 

 

 

 

Against the motion (13)

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Councillors Angela Argenzio, Brian Holmshaw, Maleiki Haybe, Douglas Johnson, Ruth Mersereau, Martin Phipps, Alexi Dimond, Marieanne Elliot, Paul Turpin, Christine Gilligan Kubo, Toby Mallinson, Henry Nottage and Sophie Wilson.

 

 

 

 

 

Abstained from voting on the motion (0)

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None.