The Panel received a verbal update from Cllr Mark Blake, the Cabinet Member for Communities, Safety & Engagement on his portfolio and this was followed by a Q&A session. The following arose in discussion of this item:
a. The Panel sought further information around a proposed Black Lives Matter motion at an upcoming Council meeting. In response, the Cabinet Member advised that this was being progressed. The Panel also noted that the Mayor London had implemented an action plan to improve trust and confidence in policing and that the Council was supporting this where it could.
b. The Panel noted some concerns with a lack of joint working around unlicensed music events in and around Seven Sisters and Cllr Blake invited the Cabinet Member to attend a local community meeting on this. The Cabinet Member advised that a lot of work had been done across the borough on early interventions to unlicensed music events over recent months. In relation to Markfield Park, the Cabinet Member advised that robust proposals were being drawn up with the Friends group and police colleagues and that he was in the process of arranging a meeting to progress this. As part of a follow-up, Cllr Barbara Blake welcome progress on this issue but advised that, to date, she had found it a struggle to make any progress on the issue and to get to the point where something was being done about it.
c. The Panel also expressed concerns with delays in getting a statement out around antisemitism, in the wake of the high profile story around the Grime artist Wiley and advocated that there needed to be better communication between the administration and the community on this issue. In response, the Cabinet Member acknowledged these concerns and commented that he was keen to get a statement out as soon as possible, to the extent that he did so through the local Labour party website, as it was felt that this would be a quicker way of doing so. In response to a follow-up on this, the Panel suggested that the issue was one of political leadership rather than an issue with the communications team.
d. The Panel noted some concerns around the Council’s engagement with community groups in response to COVID-19 and urged the Cabinet Member to undertake early intervention and engagement with community groups and faith forums etcetera. In response, the Cabinet Member acknowledged these concerns and set out that he had sought to pilot a number of community conversations with community groups prior to lockdown. The Cabinet Member also advised that grant programme bid had also been made for £500k to support local voluntary and community sector organisations. The Chair requested that the Cabinet Member provide follow-up to the Panel in writing about what activities had taken place with around engaging with mosques, faith forums and other community groups. (Action: Cllr Mark Blake).
e. In response to a question around the Cabinet Member’s key local priorities, the Panel noted concerns around disproportionate policing methods for and an overreliance on Stop and Search powers. The Cabinet Member advocated a greater onus on community policing and the need for engagement with communities, as well as the need for educational opportunities and safe places to go for young people in the borough.
f. The Cabinet Member advised that he was looking to arrange a briefing session with Members and the Borough Commander.