Plymouth Council

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First Sikh Plymouth councillor resigns from Labour

Jenny Kumah

BBC South West politics reporter

Chaz Singh
BBC Sport

Plymouth's first Sikh city councillor has resigned from the Labour Party.

Chaz Singh said his membership was no longer compatible with his faith but he has not explained any further.

A South West Labour spokesman said the party had not been provided with any details to support his claim.

Plymouth's Labour MP, Luke Pollard, tweeted calling for the councillor, first elected in 2011, to resign and trigger a by-election in the Drake ward "because I have a long standing belief that when someone leaves or defects from the party they were elected to serve, they should put their decision to the people".

Mr Singh responded on Twitter that he would "carry on serving the people of Drake" as "independent, hard-working councillor".

Council to spend £200k on electric car charging points

BBC Radio Devon

Plymouth City Council is planning to spend £200,000 to introduce 100 new electric charging points for cars across the city.

There's currently a shortage of charging points across the South West.

The council said it hoped to install the new facilities at work places with fleet vehicles where staff could also charge up their own cars.

The authority said the aim was to improve air quality and help the council reach its target of becoming carbon neutral by 2030.

Electric car

Council completes 50 pledges 'for a better Plymouth'

Ed Oldfield

Local Democracy Reporting Service

Plymouth City Council is marking the completion of 50 of the 100 pledges made when Labour took control in 2018.

The promises cover all areas of the authority's work, from training staff in dementia awareness to delivering more affordable homes.

Plymouth City Council
Ed Oldfield

The Labour group gained a majority at the city elections in May 2018, when they stood on a manifesto of fulfilling a four-year programme of 100 pledges "for a better, greener and fairer Plymouth".

Council leader Tudor Evans described reaching the half way mark in just over a year as an "incredible achievement".

Pledges completed recently include:

No. 61 - Support the new South West Mutual regional savings and loan bank

No. 78 - Provide shelter and support for people fleeing terror, conflict and famine

No. 81 - Encourage more development of homes in the city centre

Fraud investigators save Plymouth council more than £1m

Ed Oldfield

Local Democracy Reporting Service

Fraud investigators saved Plymouth City Council more than £1m in the last financial year.

The small team dealt with 262 allegations, resulting in 15 prosecutions and 44 sanctions including formal cautions.

The work saved the council a total of more than £1.4m in the 12 months to the end of March, councillors were told in a report.

The team also visited 600 households to check claims for council tax support and single person’s discount.

They found 173 cases of incorrect claims and some have been referred on to other agencies.

The team is currently working on 141 live fraud cases with a waiting list of between 20 and 30 allegations which will all be investigated.

In a recent case, a woman was sentenced at Plymouth Magistrates' Court to a curfew for illegally claiming around £2,500 in council tax support after she failed to report changes in household income, which also resulted in a £10,000 overpayment of housing benefit.

In another case, a man applied to buy his social housing property with a £40,000 discount, but investigators discovered he had moved out and sub-let his home to a friend. The man admitted the offences and was given a community order at Plymouth Crown Court.

Council rap on debt collectors

Ed Oldfield

Local Democracy Reporting Service

Plymouth City Council was at fault for refusing to accept complaints about its debt collectors says an inspector's report.


The Local Government Ombudsman said the council was wrong because the enforcement agent was acting on its behalf.

A debtor, identified in a report as Miss X, complained that the bailiffs turned down a reasonable offer of repayment without giving a reason.

She also complained that the same bailiffs broke regulations by charging multiple enforcement fees.

The agent was used to collect the debt after magistrates issued a liability order for unpaid council tax.

The watchdog upheld two cases against the council, saying it was wrong to refer complaints about the agent’s behaviour back to the agent.

A Plymouth City Council spokesman said: “We accept the findings of the ombudsman in both cases and have already implemented all of the recommendations.”

Funding system 'costing NHS in Devon staff'

BBC Radio Devon

Devon is losing out on hundreds of NHS staff because the health secretary is misinformed about how the funding system works, according to the Labour leader of Plymouth City Council.

Tudor Evans said he had written to Matt Hancock asking him to look at the rules again.

Mr Evans said Devon was missing out on between £30m and £40m, and unitary authority area Plymouth on about £18m.

The Department of Health said most NHS staff were employed on national contracts, which meant they got the same basic pay no matter where they lived.

Hospital sign

Plymouth adopts 'food justice' plan to help the hungry

Ed Oldfield

Local Democracy Reporting Service

Councillors have given the go-ahead for a plan aimed at ending hunger in Plymouth.

They voted to adopt a "food justice" strategy for the city to tackle the problem.

The city council heard an increasing number of people in the city were seeking help to avoid going hungry and Plymouth Foodbank had reported rising demand, handing out 8,509 food parcels in the 12 months to March, including to families with children.

It said the number getting help had been rising steadily over the last four years and, in 2018, more than 26,000 meals were provided by the city's soup runs.

A motion setting out the first steps in an action plan was approved at a meeting of the full council on Monday.

It was put forward by Councillor Chris Penberthy, a member of the council's ruling Labour cabinet member who has responsibility for tackling poverty.

The Labour-run council voted to:

  • Commit to food justice in Plymouth by nominating a cabinet member with responsibility of delivering food justice
  • Request the leader to ask the government to put into law its commitment to the United Nations goal of ending hunger by 2030
  • Set up a select committee to investigate the extent and causes of hunger in Plymouth and
  • Make recommendations about what can be done to tackle it
  • Work with partners to develop and implement a Food Justice Action Plan to eliminate hunger in Plymouth

LGBT+ education backed by councillors in Plymouth

Ed Oldfield

Local Democracy Reporting Service

Children’s education in Plymouth should include awareness of LGBT+ relationships, councillors have declared.

The city council unanimously backed a proposal stating its support for children receiving “high quality, age-appropriate and rights-based relationships and sex education that is inclusive of LGBT+ relationships”.

LGBT+ stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender/Transsexual-plus, with the plus meaning inclusive of other groups.

Labour cabinet member Jon Taylor said the proposal had been brought forward following weeks of protests in Birmingham against LGBT education at a primary school and a recent hate-crime when two women were victims of a widely-publicised homophobic attack on a bus in London.

He also referred to recent comments from Devon-based MEP Ann Widdecombe, who triggered an outcry after saying she thought science might “produce an answer” to being gay.

Mr Taylor said: I don’t think we are going back to the bad old days, but I do think unless you stand up and be counted, there is a risk these horrific incidents could rise – that is why we have to push back.”

The motion, backed by Plymouth City Council at a meeting on Monday, said children should "have access to education about, and awareness of, the diverse world we and they inhabit" including the mix of family types common in modern Britain.

It added that children were entitled to relationships and sex education inclusive of LGBT+ relationships, and stated it was important for schools to have a "clear dialogue with parents about the necessity of inclusive education".