Enfield’s council leader has accepted a ruling that she bullied a colleague – but then drew attention to the fact the investigation of the complaint cost the council £11,000.
Councillor Nesil Caliskan initially denied allegations that her decision to remove councillor Yasemin Brett from her cabinet post in November last year was “made in undue haste and in an inappropriate fashion”.
But after she had her appeal over-ruled, she told a full council meeting yesterday, that she "accepted" the ruling by the council's conduct committee that she bullied Ms Brett and breached the local authority’s code of conduct.
Ms Caliskan told yesterday's meeting: "The committee upheld the original decision – and while I do not agree with them, I accept the decision of the committee.
"Councillor Brett’s choice to submit this complaint and use a council process has cost the Labour council £11,000."
Deputy council leader Ian Barnes accused Ms Brett of misusing "a council process".
In a written statement, he said: "At a time when the council is experiencing severe budgetary cuts which have an impact on the services we provide to residents, I regret that a council process has, in my opinion, been misused in this way.
"Council resources should not be used for political matters. A review of external legal spending is underway."
Later in the meeting, Ms Brett gave a statement thanking the conduct committee for its verdict.
She said: "I am by no means been the only person experiencing difficulties. Bullying is a very serious matter – and mob bullying an even more serious one.
"As a victim, I am currently accused of having cost the taxpayers money from having brought this case to the council’s attention – even though the complaints were upheld.
"This was further, and public, victimisation, as an epitaph to 25 years of service here."
The conduct committee also told Ms Caliskan to write to Ms Brett apologising for her actions.
Campaigners are calling for all 10,000 homes planned for the Meridian Water development in Upper Edmonton to be owned by the council.
M4CH believes about 4,000 people are on Enfield's waiting list and said only 75 of the first phase of 725 homes will be council houses.
The borough council said it aims to meet the Mayor of London’s target of 50% affordable housing across the Meridian Water site.
But Labour councillor for Edmonton Green, Tolga Aramaz, said: “There has not been a viability assessment to see how we can get 100% council homes. The main drive is speed rather than focusing on the type of homes.”
A recent meeting about the site drew an audience of just under 100 people.
Rise in number of highest earners at Enfield Council
The number of top earners on Enfield Council’s staff has risen by 60% in a year, figures have shown.
Data from campaign group The TaxPayers’ Alliance show there were 16 council employees earning more than £100,000 in 2017-18 – up from 10 during the previous year.
Top earners include the chief executive, the executive director of finance, resources and customer services, and the executive director of health, housing and adult social care.
The identities of 11 of the top earners were not disclosed.
Neighbouring Haringey has seven employees earning more than £100,000 – down from eight during the previous financial year.
These include the chief executive, the director of public health and the director of housing and regeneration planning.
Three Enfield Council workers and four Haringey Council employees earn more than £150,000 – down from four and six respectively in 2016-17.
The Town Hall Rich List reveals Essex had the highest number of top earners in 2017-18, with 55 workers on salaries of more than £100,000.
In London, Hackney and Lambeth councils each paid 28 employees more than £100,000.
John O’Connell, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “The average council tax bill has gone up by more than £900 over the last 20 years and spending has gone through the roof."
“There are talented people in the public sector who are trying to deliver more for less, but the sheer scale of these packages raises serious questions about efficiency and priorities.”
But a spokesperson for Haringey Council pointed out that its pay bill for senior managers had fallen by £355,000 since 2016.
The spokesperson added: “In 2015, the bonus payment for senior managers was removed and since 2016 the pay award for this group has been paid at the same or at a lower rate as the rest of the workforce, which is nationally agreed."
Enfield Council has been accused of acting like a dictatorship over a decision to cut bin collections in the face of public opposition.
The council’s Conservative group leader Cllr Joanne Laban urged the Labour administration to “respect the will of the people” after two-thirds of those who were consulted said they wanted to keep weekly collections.
The consultation – which drew the biggest response in Enfield’s history – showed just 9% of more than 5,500 respondents backed the proposals favoured by council officers to move to fortnightly collections for refuse and recycling.
But senior councillors this week gave the green light to cutting bin rounds after a lengthy debate with council officers over why the changes had been recommended.
Cllr Laban said: “The Conservative Group is extremely disappointed that the Labour administration has recommended to change the wheeled bin service to fortnightly collection for refuse and dry recycling.
“There were many options to choose from in the consultation, but the administration has chosen the one that least reflected people’s views.
“The Labour administration in this regard is acting more like a dictatorship than a democratic institution.”
Labour councillors argue that failing to save money from waste collections would mean having to make cuts to areas such as adults’ and children’s social care, as local government continues to bear the brunt of austerity measures.
Enfield bin collection to go fortnightly despite opposition
Bin collections in Enfield look likely to be cut to once a fortnight – even though most residents who were consulted opposed the change.
Council officers have recommended changing the borough’s refuse and recycling collections to once every two weeks and introducing a £65-a-year charge for the fortnightly garden waste rounds.
The shake-up is the most drastic of the proposals made in a recent public consultation, which drew more than 5,500 responses – more than any other Enfield Council consultation.
It would make the biggest savings for the council – amounting to £7.5 million over five years – and would also see the roll-out of separate, weekly food waste collections, in line with the Mayor of London’s Environment Strategy.
The shake-up could boost the borough’s recycling rate to 49 per cent – up from 38% under the current scheme.
But it was the least popular of the eight options presented to members of the public – backed by just 9% of the consultation respondents.
Two-thirds of respondents (66%) wanted to keep the current weekly collections.
Despite this, the report states: “It can generally be said that there was no strong majority for any of the proposals, 66% of respondents preferred to retain the current collections with 46% strongly agreeing and 20% agreeing.”
Tory councillors called for weekly collections to stay during a debate at full council.
Cllr Lindsay Rawlings, Conservative member for Town ward, warned fortnightly collections could lead to a rise in fly-tipping and dirtier streets – particularly in the east of the borough.
But council leader Cllr Nesil Caliskan said failing to save money on bin collections would mean having to make cuts to essential services such as adult social care.
A series of gardens could help to protect nearly 400 properties from flooding and boost walking and cycling in Enfield.
Enfield Council is planning to create a series of ‘rain gardens’ in Haselbury that would link up Firs Farm and Pymmes Park wetlands.
The gardens help to store water and release it slowly into the surrounding area in a way that mimics the natural environment.
Bexley Gardens, Westerham Avenue and Park Lane are among the streets set to receive rain gardens, which can also increase biodiversity and improve air quality.
While the construction of a flood storage area at Firs Farm Wetlands has reduced the risk of flooding for more than 100 nearby properties, almost 400 homes and businesses could still be at risk.
The council says schemes such as rain gardens are the best way to tackle this problem, as climate change continues to make flooding more likely.
More than 3,000 residents were asked for their views on the proposals in a consultation launched in September – but the council only received 18 responses.
The replies were “mostly positive”, but four raised concerns over the scheme’s potential impact.
Enfield residents to have say on bin collection changes
Local Democracy Reporting Service
Bin collections in Enfield could be cut from once a week to once a fortnight under proposals put forward by the council.
The changes – which include charging a fee to collect garden waste – are set out in a council report containing seven options for overhauling the service that could save the council up to almost £3m a year.
If the council approves the recommendations in the report, a consultation will be held with the public on whether to alter collections or stick with the status quo.
The current arrangements see refuse and dry recycling collected once a week, while mixed food and garden waste are collected once a fortnight.
But the council is under pressure to save £18m by 2020 due to a funding squeeze by central government – and cutbacks to bin rounds could help to meet that target.