20/11/2014 Questions to Full Council from Cllr Varinder Singh Bola

20 Nov

The below extract is taken from Redbridge Council’s approved minutes for 20th November 2014:

Councillor Singh Bola asked the Cabinet Member for Community Safety and Enforcement, Councillor Hatfull, I would like to ask the Cabinet Member for Community Safety and Enforcement, what is the progress of the spitting ban in regard to enforcement officer training and what are the next steps?

Councillor Hatfull replied that spitting was something he deplored and residents deplored and he was committed to stamping it out in our streets and highways in Redbridge. Councillor Hatfull knew the previous Administration thought this was a good idea and started work on this and he was committed to continue this work and went out to consultation with the public. The public consultation regarding the proposed ban on spitting had been completed, and the result was that 94% of those who responded and we had a high response rate, supported the ban on spitting in public places. It was one of our most popular consultation results ever. Now the process was a bit slower than Councillor Hatfull would like, having received such strong public support we now had to go via Cabinet to seek agreement to the Department for Communities and Local Government to introduce a by-law. It had to be agreed by Government Ministers. We were confident that they would agree this. It has happened elsewhere, but that could take a little while. Providing they approve the by-law this would mean spitting in public places would be a criminal offence and could be enforced by the Streetscene Enforcement Team and the Police and as soon as DCLG approved the by-law we would enforce it strongly. Our Streetscene Enforcement Officers were already versed in the requirements of the law and would start enforcing against those seen spitting, but we would be conducting an enforcement review to make sure they had the powers, the numbers and strengths to rigorously enforce this while understanding the deserving cases where perhaps enforcement was not warranted.

By way of a supplementary question Councillor Singh Bola asked was the Cabinet Member surprised to see opposition Members voicing misgivings about the spitting ban through the local press and whether he could inform us if these Members had discussed the matter with him directly or even bothered to explain the opposition at the appropriate Service Committees.

Councillor Hatfull replied that he would say that he was very surprised and actually he was really shocked to hear criticism in the press. When Councillor Hatfull spoke to the Recorder he said to them this had cross party support because he believed it did. As far as Councillor Hatfull was aware the previous Administration strongly supported it and introduced the idea. Their Members had campaigned for it so to then read in the paper that suddenly that some of the Members opposite were not supportive, had concerns and did not like the ban, was a major shock. Councillor Hatfull said that no Member opposite had spoken to him prior to going to the press to say that they had concerns and everyone he had spoken to said that this was the best idea ever, so he was very surprised with the divided messages coming from the other side, and Councillor Hatfull was committed to introduce it.

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