Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Sefton Council and credit crunch

There would have been nothing on the order paper 0n the economic crisis for the last Council Meeting if the Lib Dems had not put down a motion. We felt that doing nothing was not an option but were aware that the situation was moving so quickly that any specific proposals in a motion submitted in time to be accepted would be out of date by the time the Council met. After some discussion we decided to put in a ''holding motion' and move some relevant amendments on the night. Below you will find the motion with our amendments as printed in the minutes:


To consider the following Motion submitted by Councillor McGuire:

“That this Council records its concern:

That residents and businesses within Sefton (as well as nationally) are facing economic difficulties on a scale not seen in recent years, which seriously threaten their own financial well-being;

That families, pensioners and other residents face rising fuel and heating bills, soaring food prices, repossessions, credit difficulties and threats to their jobs, pensions, annuities, savings and investments;

That Sefton MBC’s current budget is threatened by hugely-rising energy costs and other pressures which threaten cutbacks to services and/or increases in charges.

This Council believes and welcomes the fact that the vast majority of people in the UK are working positively to try to minimise the damage and work towards restoration of a thriving economy.”
Minutes:
It was moved by Councillor McGuire, seconded by Councillor Tattersall:

“That this Council records its concern:

(1) that residents and businesses within Sefton (as well as nationally) are facing economic difficulties on a scale not seen in recent years, which seriously threaten their own financial wellbeing;

(2) that families, pensioners and other residents face rising fuel and heating bills, soaring food prices, repossessions, credit difficulties and threats to their jobs, pensions, annuities, savings and investments;

(3) that Sefton MBC's current budget is threatened by hugely rising energy costs and other pressures which threaten cutbacks to services and/or increases in charges;

(4) That Sefton MBC takes steps to ensure that all invoices from all small and medium sized enterprises (SME) are paid promptly within the agreed payment time period and that this is monitored to ensure that no SME suppliers suffer as a result of late payment in this difficult financial climate.

The Council believes and welcomes the fact that the vast majority of people in the U.K. are working positively to try to minimise the damage and work towards restoration of a thriving economy.”

(In accordance with Rule 15.7 of the Council and Committee Procedure Rules, the Council gave consent without discussion to the consideration of the additional wording set out in (4) above, which was not included in the Notice of Motion submitted to the Legal Director.)

It was then moved by Councillor Brodie - Browne and seconded by Councillor Robertson that the Motion be amended by the insertion of the following text before the final paragraph of the Motion:

That the Council is concerned that Mortgage Possession Claims have dramatically increased in the courts serving Sefton and whilst recognising that some measures have been announced:

requests that a report be submitted to the Cabinet on the ways that Sefton Council can assist our residents and
notes that other Councils in the region have amongst other measures; established formal forums of local mortgage lenders and the council to ensure that repossessions are kept to a minimum, expanded Equity Loan Schemes to enable loans to be offered to owners of long term empty properties so that the can be brought back into use, and launched publicity campaigns warning residents against selling their homes in panic to predatory private investors who may force them out

That the Council calls on the Government as a matter of urgency to:

allow councils to borrow against their assets to buy up unsold homes and land to replenish the social housing stock
give families facing repossession the right to sell part of their equity, and rent their home back
make the Council of Mortgage Lenders’ Code of Conduct legally binding so that repossession is a last resort

After debate thereon, the amendment was put to the vote and, on a show of hands, the Mayor declared that the amendment was carried unanimously.

Following further debate, the Substantive Motion was put to the vote and, on a show of hands, the Mayor declared that the Substantive Motion was carried unanimously; and it was

RESOLVED

That the following motion be approved and submitted to the Cabinet, in accordance with Rule 15.14 of the Council and Committee Procedure Rules for formal consideration of the financial implications, in advance of any budgetary commitment and prior to any action being taken to implement the decision:-

“That this Council records its concern:

(1) that residents and businesses within Sefton (as well as nationally) are facing economic difficulties on a scale not seen in recent years, which seriously threaten their own financial wellbeing;

(2) that families, pensioners and other residents face rising fuel and heating bills, soaring food prices, repossessions, credit difficulties and threats to their jobs, pensions, annuities, savings and investments;

(3) that Sefton MBC's current budget is threatened by hugely rising energy costs and other pressures which threaten cutbacks to services and/or increases in charges;

(4) That Sefton MBC takes steps to ensure that all invoices from all small and medium sized enterprises (SME) are paid promptly within the agreed payment time period and that this is monitored to ensure that no SME suppliers suffer as a result of late payment in this difficult financial climate.

That the Council is concerned that Mortgage Possession Claims have dramatically increased in the courts serving Sefton and whilst recognising that some measures have been announced:

requests that a report be submitted to the Cabinet on the ways that Sefton Council can assist our residents and
notes that other Councils in the region have amongst other measures; established formal forums of local mortgage lenders and the council to ensure that repossessions are kept to a minimum, expanded Equity Loan Schemes to enable loans to be offered to owners of long term empty properties so that the can be brought back into use, and launched publicity campaigns warning residents against selling their homes in panic to predatory private investors who may force them out

That the Council calls on the Government as a matter of urgency to:

allow councils to borrow against their assets to buy up unsold homes and land to replenish the social housing stock
give families facing repossession the right to sell part of their equity, and rent their home back
make the Council of Mortgage Lenders’ Code of Conduct legally binding so that repossession is a last resort

The Council believes and welcomes the fact that the vast majority of people in the U.K. are working positively to try to minimise the damage and work towards restoration of a thriving



A couple of matters arise from that;firstly it was not unanimous. The Tory leader having made a perfectly sensible speech and having read the motion noticed that my amendment asked for a report to cabinet then rather ostentatiously abstained! The rest of her group voted for the motion-you could have knocked us down with a feather, secondly there was rather a sad little contribution from Tom Glover which I guess even his friends would have wished he hadn't made. Luckily the Mayor charitably intervened. Tom was trying to give financial advice and go it all wrong. He was foolish to start handing out advice, sad that he got mixed up over the advice he was offering and plain out of touch. The burden of his advice was that people should switch to a 'repayment' only mortgage-we guess he meant 'interest only'. He missed the point that some people can not get any sort of mortgage at all in the present situation nor did he grasp that many lender are just not offering 'interest only' at present. Lloyds TsB announced today that they were withdrawing such products and if their take over of HBoS goes thro they will by far the biggest mortgage lender in the UK