Council Minutes - 6 September 2014

Present:    Vicky Seddon (Chair), Alan Debenham, Peter Hirst, Stephen Carter, Stuart Weir, Phil Starr, James Grindrod, Jack Maizels, Avtar Singh, Finola Kelly, Mary Southcott, Danny Zinkus-Sutton, Owais Rajput

Apologies: Andrew Blick, Phillip Davis

In Attendance: Alexandra Runswick (Director), Simon Howard, Mohammed Saghir (observer) 


1          Apologies, Minutes and Matters Arising

V Seddon (VS) informed Council that in addition to the agenda Stuart Weir wanted to update Council on the Magna Carta narrative. The minutes from the last Council meeting were approved.

Matters arising

VS referred to her proposed changes for proxy votes. She also advised Council that following the MB elections Danny Zinkus Sutton (DZS) will be on the Rodell board and Andrew Blick will be on the MB.

There were no other matters arising.


2          Finance

A Runswick (AR) presented a revised budget to Council. The revision is the removal of Local Works income and expenditure from the budget. Steve Shaw and Dan Flanagan announced their resignation (their main funding expired in October).

Council approved the revised budget

AR then sought the approval by Council to use internet banking rather than telephone banking.

Council authorised the use of internet banking


3          Directors Report     

AR informed Council that UD over the summer has been using social media and the campaign tools on the website for general actions. In respect of the Scottish referendum UD has been asking members/supporters to report back on the campaigning as well as election leaflets.

UD used Lords Reform day (anniversary of the Royal Assent in 1911) on social media to promote Lords reform. On Buzzfeed we received 12,000 hits. A week ago the CWI report was launched. Other activities on social media included running a predict the turnout campaign for the PCC by-election. There was also a local groups meeting (thanks to VS and JG).

AR added that she, VS and DZS conducted interviews for the Finance post and have appointed Arti Vyas and she is recruiting for a coordinator for the Magna Carta project.

VS then suggested that Council discuss these and other matters pertinent to UD. This covered a constitution, PC elections, Scottish elections, local devolution. At the end of the discussion Council thanked AR for her report and noted that it had been a long summer.

SW then explained to Council the Magna Carta narrative he is writing. He is pulling UD’s strategy about constitutional reform together with help from Andrew Blick, Pete Mills and Andrew Bentham and is about half way through.

AR thanked SW.


4          Structure of Council

 AR spoke to her paper that she had written following discussion at the last Council meeting regarding the Council elections. VS then suggested Council discuss the issues raised followed by an indicative vote. She reminded Council that it has control over certain matters such as numbers but the AGM next year decides the constituencies whilst the constitution is silent on co-option.

The discussion that followed found Council members expressing diverse views regarding the election to, size, makeup, purpose of both Council and the Management board.

Following this discussion the indicative votes were as follows:


1       Reduce the size of Council

For 9

Against 2

Abstain 2


2       Abandon geographical constituencies but having reserved places for regions

          For 11

          Against 2


3       Abandon geographical constituencies but without reserved places for regions

          For 3

          Against 10


4       Allowing co-option to Council as per paper

          For 10

          Against 3


5       A paper proposing how

          For 13


6       To find a way of reducing meetings(Council plus Management Board)

          For 12

          Against 1



5          Lobbying Act – implications for UD campaigns

AR explained to Council how the newly published Regulations work and to make them aware that UD may have to register according to these.


6          Implications of Scottish referendum

 VS stated that UD had not taken a position, AR added that this agenda item was here for Council to discuss. DZ started the conversation being the only Council member from Scotland. This covered not just the impact on Scotland but the West Lothian question, devolution for English regions, greater powers for metropolitan areas and local activism. There was then general discussion.


7          Recall Bill

 AR explained the background to the Bill and that there was much media coverage but little understanding on how recall would work. 38 degrees alternate bill is based on the draft bill. AR thought it would be useful to add to the debate. She took Council through the paper and Council’s discussion then focussed on the threshold level for recall. Council decided that the proposed threshold level in the paper was too high. Council first voted 6 to 4 against a 10% threshold then 8 to 3 in favour of a 15% threshold.

Council accepts the paper subject to changing the threshold level to 15% but also subject to further discussions with staff on the tactical implications.


8          Rodell Properties

 Simon Howard (SH) briefed Council on the latest position regarding planning on both properties, the potential sale of 6-9 Cynthia Street, the redevelopment of 37 Grays Inn Road and tenants.


9          A.O.B & Close

 Proxy voting

 VS explained to Council that with the experience of the last AGM where the attendees voted differently from the proxy votes, she proposed that there should be an opportunity to discuss the motions on UD’s webpage and that there should be a reminder on the proxy form suggesting that proxy voters should look at the discussion beforehand. There was a consensus that this was a sensible idea. She would move such changes at the AGM.

Mohammed Saghir thanked Council for allowing him to sit in the meeting as an observer.

The meeting was closed and the date of the next meeting is 21st February 2015.